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United States v. Demetracakis

July 10, 1964


Author: Knoch

Before DUFFY, SCHNACKENBERG, and KNOCH, Circuit Judges.

KNOCH, Circuit Judge.

Defendant-appellant, Norman Demetracakis, was tried by the United States District Court, jury having been waived, and found guilty of mail theft in violation of Title 18 U.S.C. ยง 1708. He was sentenced to serve five years on each of two counts, the sentences to run consecutively. He has appealed to this Court asserting that his conviction was based solely on an uncorroborated, involuntary confession, obtained from him while he was illegally confined, which was erroneously received in evidence.

The government contends that as defendant has raised these points for the first time on appeal, he is deemed to have waived them, absent patent error.

Defendant was represented at his trial by able and experienced Court-appointed counsel who, on offer in evidence of the several exhibits, including the allegedly stolen letters and their enclosures, together with defendant's written statement, made no specific objection to the statement, saying merely:

"* * * I would object for the record and waive any argument on my objection."

We cannot say that the errors of which defendant now complains were made the subject of appropriate objection at the trial, as required. United States v. Jones, 7 Cir., 1953, 204 F.2d 745, 748. United States v. Bender, 7 Cir., 1955, 218 F.2d 869, 874.

Nevertheless we have studied the record to ascertain whether, as defendant contends, patent error exists here.Rule 52(b), Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.

Defendant was employed as an orderly at the Wrightwood Home, 504 Wright-wood Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, where living quarters were provided for him. His hours were normally 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. He also maintained rooms at 7109 N. Clark Street, Chicago, Illinois.

On May 10, 1963, he worked from about 9 p.m. until about 8 or 9 a.m. the following morning, May 11, 1963, when he was arrested by Chicago Police officers and booked at about 10 or 10:45 a.m. on a state felony charge which was subsequently "no-billed" by the Cook County Grand Jury. During the day he remained at the police station where he was interrogated and exhibited in a line-up in connection with the state felony charge.

After defendant's arrest, Richard Murray, another orderly at the Home, on the direction of Elna Parks, the Home's Assistant Administrator, went to defendant's room to pack his personal possessions.

Mr. Murray testified that when he picked up a coat on defendant's bed, a letter fell out of it. This letter was the government's Exhibit 2. The parties stipulated that if called as a witness, the Secretary of the State of Illinois would testify that on May 9, 1963, he caused to be mailed postage paid, Exhibit 2, addressed to Basil Mihalopoulos, 528 W. Wrightwood Avenue, Chicago. Mr. Murray showed Exhibit 2 to Mrs. Parks who then returned with him and searched defendant's room, where she found two letters and a bank statement. One of these letters was the government's Exhibit 1.The parties also stipulated that if called as a witness, Mrs. Gertrude Coyle would testify that on April 23, 1963, she mailed, postage paid, Exhibit 1 addressed to Mrs. T. Sorcie, 1501 W. Fargo Avenue, Chicago. The parties further stipulated that the addressees of both exhibits would testify that they maintained letter boxes for receipt of mail at their respective addresses, that they examined these boxes the day after the aforesaid mailings, that the letters were not there and that they had not seen them.

Defendant had recently completed a three-year sentence for mail theft. He testified that he had been convicted of nine or ten previous mail theft offenses, spending about twenty-five years in various federal penal institutions.

About 12:45 p.m. on May 11, 1963, Postal Inspector Culkin, who had known defendant for about seven years, was assigned to the case. He visited the Home and received the documents found by Mrs. Parks. He also searched defendant's room at the Home. He then spoke to the defendant at the police station for a few minutes, told him of his Constitutional rights to refrain from speaking and to have counsel, and cautioned him that anything he did say might be used against him. Defendant denied stealing any mail, denied that there was any mail in his room at the Home or elsewhere, and gave permission to search his rooms on Clark Street. After making that search, Inspector Culkin returned to the police station, spoke to defendant for another three to five minutes, during which he told him that the letters had been found in his room, after which defendant made a statement, which was reduced to writing, government's Exhibit 6, in which are set out the location, the persons present, the warnings given defendant of his Constitutional rights, and in which defendant admits stealing four letters, ...

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