People v. Ralon

Citation570 N.E.2d 742,211 Ill.App.3d 927,156 Ill.Dec. 266
Decision Date28 March 1991
Docket NumberNo. 1-87-1036,1-87-1036
Parties, 156 Ill.Dec. 266 The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Ramon RALON, Defendant-Appellant.
CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois

Randolph N. Stone, Public Defender of Cook County (Mark H. Kusatzky, Asst. Public Defender, of counsel), for defendant-appellant.

John J. O'Malley, State's Atty. of Cook County (Inge Fryklund, Jane E. Loeb and David Gaughan, Asst. State's Attys., of counsel), for plaintiff-appellee.

Justice COCCIA delivered the opinion of the court:

Defendant Ramon Ralon was charged with two counts of armed robbery and two counts (later nolle prossed) of armed violence arising out of an incident which occurred in the early morning of March 9, 1986, at a tavern located at 2246 South Kedzie, in Chicago. Luis Reyes, the bartender, testified that at about 1:00 a.m. he and two waitresses named Marylou Castro and Rosa Rodriquez were working when two armed men entered the bar. One had a shotgun and the other a pistol. The man with the shotgun opened the door and fired into the ceiling. Reyes could see the men were wearing black Ninja outfits which prevented him from seeing their faces. The robbers, speaking in Spanish, made everyone in the tavern get up by the bar. The man with the shotgun went behind the bar, asked Reyes for money, and placed the shotgun barrel against his head. The man with the pistol stayed by the front door. Reyes opened the cash register and the man took the money, about $500, and left, firing the shotgun again into the ceiling. Reyes described the man with the shotgun as "more or less" my height, which was five (5) foot, six (6) inches tall. The man with the pistol was shorter than the man with the shotgun. Reyes identified the shotgun, People's Exhibit No. 1, as the shotgun used by the robbers. He identified People's Exhibit No. 2, a Ninja suit, as looking like the Ninja suit worn by the robbers. Reyes could not identify defendant Ralon as one of the robbers.

Marylou Castro did not testify and was believed to be in Houston, Texas. Rosa Rodriguez testified to a sequence of events similar to Reyes' testimony. She described the men as both speaking Spanish and wearing black clothes. She identified the shotgun and the Ninja clothes. Rodriguez also did not identify defendant as one of the robbers; she said that all she could see was around the man's eyes.

Assistant State's Attorney Michael Gerber testified that on March 11, 1986, he took defendant's confession to the armed robbery. Gerber stated that he conversed in English with defendant and that defendant waived his Miranda rights. Gerber wrote down what defendant told him and defendant signed the written confession. Gerber also showed defendant a shotgun, which defendant identified as the gun used in the robbery.

In his confession defendant stated that on March 8, 1986, Pedro Lopez came to his house carrying a shotgun. They discussed robbing a tavern on Kedzie Avenue. Defendant and Lopez walked to and entered the tavern. According to defendant, Pedro fired three shots into the ceiling. Pedro then told everyone to put their wallets on the bar and the woman behind the bar to take the money out of the cash register. While Pedro held the shotgun defendant went to the cash register and took eleven one-dollar bills that were placed on the bar by the woman. Defendant and Pedro then left and went into the alley and split the money. Defendant stated that he had been treated fairly by the police and that no force or threats had been used against him.

Marcos Arc testified that he knew Pedro Lopez as "Chocolate" and that on March 8, 1986, Lopez came to his house on Troy and 23rd Street and borrowed a shotgun. Arc had bought the shotgun on the street about a week previously. The next day, Monday, March 9, Arc went to Lopez's house to get the shotgun back. He took it home and put it under the bed where it stayed until the police came to get it. Arc gave the police the shotgun. Arc then went with the police to look for defendant Ralon and was present when defendant was arrested. Arc accompanied defendant and the police to the station.

Officer Lonnie Segroves testified that he and fellow officers arrested Pedro Lopez. He also testified to obtaining a .12 gauge shotgun from Marcos Arc. Segroves and two other officers then arrested defendant and defendant made a statement to him. Segroves testified that he gave defendant Miranda warnings and defendant waived his rights. According to Segroves, defendant told him that he and "Chocolate" had robbed the tavern, and then he said "Pedro." Defendant also told Segroves that he had a black Ninja outfit at home, and later signed a consent form allowing a search for the outfit. Segroves, accompanied by Officers Parra and Pena, went to defendant's house and retrieved the Ninja suit. The parties stipulated that another police officer reported to the tavern at about 1:00 a.m. on March 9 and recovered two spent .12 gauge shotgun casings.

Defendant Ralon testified that he was 19 years of age and that he never learned to read or write. Defendant denied robbing the tavern. He described his arrest and being taken to the police station, where he saw "Chocolate" and Marcos Arc. Defendant denied that he had been read his rights. He described being in a room with four police officers, none of whom were female, and described being intimidated and struck with a telephone book by one of the officers, whom he said was Spanish with black hair and a black mustache. Defendant admitted having previously described the officer as being white with dark blond hair. Thereafter, defendant described signing two writings which he did not read, one to get the Ninja suit. Defendant testified that he signed another paper without knowing what it said because he was afraid of the police. Defendant denied that he had been given his Miranda rights by State's Attorney Gerber. Defendant acknowledged that he had known "Chocolate" (Pedro Lopez) for about a half year. Defendant stated that he did not know if he had voluntarily signed a statement. Defendant ultimately denied telling Officer Segroves, Detective Leuser, or Assistant State's Attorney Gerber that he had robbed the tavern.

After the trial court denied a motion for directed verdict on the armed robbery counts, Officer Maureen Doyle testified in rebuttal that she had been present at the police station with defendant the entire time following his arrival while under arrest on March 11. Doyle denied seeing any coercion or hitting involving defendant. She was present until the State's Attorney arrived that evening to interview defendant. The evidence then closed and an instruction conference was held, followed by arguments of counsel and jury instructions.

Defendant first challenges the trial court's ruling at a fitness restoration hearing, held October 16, 1986, that defendant was fit to stand trial even though he had stopped taking his medication and despite having been reported "fit with medication." Defendant believes that the court should have had a bona fide doubt as to fitness and referred defendant for additional treatment.

On April 22, 1986, defendant was examined and found not fit (not mentally competent) to stand trial by Dr. Kaplan. However, the recommendation was that defendant would be fit within one year. On June 13, 1986, the court found defendant not fit to stand trial. Defendant was placed in the custody of the Illinois Department of Mental Health and Development Disabilities which, on July 2, 1986, reported to the court that defendant could be restored to fitness and included a treatment plan, as required by Illinois law. (See Ill.Rev.Stat.1985, ch. 38, par. 104-17). On September 23, 1986, the Department of Mental Health filed a progress report, as required by law (Ill.Stat.1985, ch. 38, par. 104-18). The report concluded that defendant "had been restored to fitness and is able to understand the nature of the charges against him and cooperate in his defense." However, the report also listed four medications defendant had been taking.

On October 7, 1986, a report from the Cook County Psychiatric Institute was prepared, recommending that defendant be found fit to stand trial. On October 16, 1986, a restoration hearing was held before Michael P. Toomin, Cook County Circuit Court Judge. Dr. Matthew Marcus testified, as did defendant.

Dr. Marcus testified that he evaluated defendant and examined several prior reports on defendant prepared earlier at the Elgin Mental Health Center or the Psychiatric Institute. Dr. Marcus was of the opinion that defendant was fit to stand trial "with medication." He described four types of medication that defendant was taking. He described defendant as being consistently aware of the charges against him. Defendant was capable of assisting in his defense by cooperating with his attorney. Defendant was aware of the roles of the various court personnel and their function. Dr. Marcus described the side effects from the psychotropic medication defendant was taking as: drooling of saliva, muscular rigidity, and a slowing down of body functions. Higher doses, near the toxic range (which defendant was not receiving), could cause involuntary shakes and movements or blurred vision. Headaches were not a prominent symptom of the psychotropic medication being taken by defendant, although headaches could result from any medication, including nonpsychotropic varieties. Dr. Marcus agreed that it was possible that defendant's anti-depressant drugs could cause headaches.

Dr. Marcus testified that defendant suffered from a serious mental illness, specifically, schizoaffective disorder. He was aware that defendant had been hospitalized for about three months in 1984 at the Psychiatric Institute and had been released with medication. He was unaware of a six month course of psychiatric treatment and hospitalization when defe...

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