Judge: Grandmother was insane

  • Written by Dermot Connolly

An Oak Lawn woman charged with first-degree murder has been found not guilty by reason of insanity in the killing of her 6-month-old granddaughter in 2013.

The facts of the gruesome case were not in dispute. But after presiding over a two-day bench trial in Bridgeview, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Collen Hyland on May 23 remanded Alfreda Giedrojc, 66, to the Illinois Department of Human Services. She said her attorney, assistant public defender David Dunne, had proved with “clear and convincing evidence” that she was “not criminally responsible” for the infant’s death.”

“I do find that the defendant did suffer from a mental illness and did lack the ability to appreciate the criminality of her conduct,” said Hyland.

Giedrojc has been in Cook County Jail since Oct. 6, 2013, the day her 6-month-old granddaughter, Vivian Summers, her daughter Amy’s child, died in her home in the 6600 block of West 91st Street.

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“There is no question nor does anyone dispute that on that Sunday morning, she killed her infant granddaughter during the 10- or 15-minute period that she was left alone with her, for the first time in the baby’s life,” said Hyland.

“It is clear that the baby suffered a horrific, brutal death at the hands of her grandmother,” said the judge.

According to testimony, Joel Summers, the baby’s father, dropped Vivian off at her grandparents’ home before helping Giedrojc’s son, Lester, with a home-improvement project at his house across the street. With the baby asleep on the couch, Giedrojc’s husband, Boleslaw, then left her alone for 10 minutes and went across the street too. During that short timeframe, Giedrojc struck the baby several times with a sledgehammer she had hidden in her bedroom closet and used a kitchen knife to slit her throat.

Joel Summers and Lester Giedrojc sat together during the trial and left without comment after Hyland explained her decision.

In explaining her findings, Hyland cited the testimony of the two doctors who testified as expert witnesses. Forensic psychiatrist Mathew Markos the director of Forensic Clinical Services for Cook County Circuit Court, testified about a mental health report that he completed on Giedrojc after interviewing her and reviewing reports submitted by several other psychiatrists who treated her since 2011.

Dr. Christofer Cooper, a Cook County psychologist who interviewed Giedrojc, also testified. Both men said that in their professional opinions she was not sane when she committed the crime.

The doctors said family members reported first noticing her sinking into depression in 2011. She became withdrawn and was first hospitalized in the psychiatric ward of Advocate Christ Medical Center in February 2012 following a serious suicide attempt. Markos said she drank a bottle of “Polish moonshine” and was found unconscious in her house with a blood-alcohol content of .356. Over the following year, she was treated for major depression with psychosis by several psychiatrists and spent time in Lakeshore Hospital’s psychiatric ward.

Family members told the doctors that she experienced delusional fears that she would be arrested for not paying her mother’s medical bills in Poland. She has been a legal United States resident since immigrating in the 1980s but quit her job at Walmart due to irrational fears of being arrested as an illegal alien. She eventually stopped taking care of herself and spent her time watching TV. Markos said she probably was not prescribed enough medication to treat her symptoms.

Assistant State’s Attorney Michael Deno had argued that she was not legally insane because some of her actions indicated that she knew what she did was wrong. These included getting the sledgehammer from the garage the night before and waiting until everyone left before committing the crime.

But the doctors noted that she had hidden other tools around the house as well, including a wrench and axe, and did not know she would be left alone.

Hyland said she agreed with Cooper’s belief that, “The factors of insanity outweigh the others in my clinical analysis.”

The judge ordered that Giedrojc, who only interacted with a Polish translator throughout the court proceedings, be held in “a secure facility,” for the next 30 days. This will give doctors time to compile a report on her treatment needs. The attorneys agreed to return to Hyland’s courtroom in July, after the report is submitted, when she will determine where she will be sent on a long-term basis.

“Where she goes and how long she is there will be up to the doctors. It will be a secure setting, At least she will get treatment and won’t be warehoused,” said Dunne. Due to her age and poor health, he said she likely will never be released.

“This is just a tragic case for the family. Nobody won. This doesn’t bring the baby back, and now they have lost their mother, too. She is just a shell of herself,” said Dunne.