Original article no longer available
By Diane Markel, STAFF WRITER
Published: Wednesday, May 28, 2003
DIXON – Eric Rayfield is eligible for the death penalty.
Lee County Circuit Court Judge Tomas Magdich ruled Tuesday afternoon that the state established the eligibility for the death penalty.
Rayfield, now 31, was an inmate at Dixon Correctional Center when he killed another inmate, Carlos Colon, on Oct. 9, 1997. A bench trial was conducted before Magdich beginning July 30, 2002, and concluding Aug. 6, 2002.
The written verdict came toward the end of January of this year. Magdich found Rayfield guilty but mentally ill. Guilty but mentally ill is not the same as not guilty by reason of insanity.
In his decision, Magdich wrote that Rayfield lured Colon into a cell with a promise of cigarettes, had him look out the window and strangled him to death. Rayfield then cleaned up Colon’s body and placed him in his bunk bed.
Tuesday was the eligibility phase in determining whether Rayfield would get the death penalty. The next phase will be the actual sentencing.
Tuesday the state was represented by Lee County State’s Attorney Linda Giesen and Richard Schwind, chief of the Criminal Prosecutions and Trials Assistance Bureau, state of Illinois, office of the attorney general, Chicago.
Giesen presented several items of evidence of aggravating circumstances, including Colon’s death certificate indicating he was an inmate at the prison and had been strangled. She also presented a certified record of conviction for Rayfield from LaSalle County for first-degree murder and home invasion on Jan. 5, 1989. Rayfield entered a plea of guilty for that murder and was sentenced to natural life in prison.
Giesen also presented a copy of Rayfield’s birth certificate, which showed that he was 18 years old or older at the time of the Colon murder.
Schwind said he believes the evidence shows that the state proved at least two elements necessary for eligibility for the death penalty.
Rayfield was at least 18 years of age at the time of the murder, and the person murdered was a prisoner and on prison grounds at the time of the murder.
Rayfield also was convicted of killing two people. He was convicted of killing Colon. And Rayfield had a conviction of first-degree murder in LaSalle County, Schwind said.
The court then heard testimony relating to the sentencing hearing that will be conducted June 17. Defense attorney Pat Ward of Dixon called defense witness psychiatrist Kishore Thampy.
In testimony lasting more than two hours, Thampy reviewed some of Rayfield’s psychiatric treatment records made while Rayfield was at DCC. The records began in early 1997. Included in the testimony were the various diagnoses and the medication prescribed.
Thampy said he would have given Rayfield a different diagnosis, and would not have decreased anti-psychotic medication while increasing anti-depression medication. The anti-depression medication has the effect in some people of aggravating psychosis and irritation, he said.
Rayfield is in the custody of the Department of Corrections on the LaSalle County murder.