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People v. Alexander

MAY 27, 1968.




Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, Criminal Division; the Hon. JOHN C. FITZGERALD, Judge, presiding. Judgment reversed.


Two indictments for robbery were returned against defendant. He was found guilty in a bench trial and sentenced to the Illinois State Penitentiary for a term of not less than one year, nor more than five years on each indictment, to be served concurrently and not consecutively. Prior to the trial of this cause, he moved to suppress his confession which he claimed was obtained only after he was savagely beaten by the police. The motion to suppress was denied and defendant appeals claiming this was error and that he was not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

On December 17, 1965, the Victory Food Mart at 5907 S. State Street, in Chicago, was robbed by two black men. On December 31, 1965, a tavern at 5722 S. State Street, in Chicago, was robbed and a patron was shot as he tried to flee from the premises. According to the testimony of the police, one George Reynolds and Fred Alexander, the appellant here, were arrested at about 2:00 p.m., on January 1, 1966. Reynolds and Alexander were taken to the Area 1 Robbery headquarters where they were handcuffed to chairs on opposite sides of a large open office and questioned about the two robberies. Alexander was advised that he did not have to make a statement but he was not advised of his right to counsel.

Officer Spangelo, who questioned Alexander, denied that any force, threat, coercion, or violence of any nature was used, nor were any promises made. Spangelo also denied that his partner, officer Hein, used any force such as striking Alexander in the face or kicking him in the groin. The officer testified that at no time did he see defendant's face bleeding, nor was the defendant ever taken down into the basement of the police station. Spangelo acknowledged that the Task Force has lockers in the basement, but otherwise could not describe the basement.

Officer Hein also testified that no force was used against the defendant by either himself or his partner, Spangelo. He also denied that Alexander was ever taken down into the basement.

The allegedly involuntary confession was obtained from Alexander about 3:00 or 3:30 p.m., according to officers Spangelo and Hein. The arrest slip, however, shows the time of the arrest at 5:15 p.m. Spangelo claimed this was when the slip was made out, not when the arrest was made. Both officers believed the defendant was transported from the station at seven or eight o'clock that evening.

Officer Saxon was on duty on January 1, 1966, from four o'clock in the afternoon until twelve midnight. He recalled picking up some prisoners at the Area 1 police station and transporting them down to the central police station at 11th and State streets. Officer Saxon did not remember defendant Alexander, nor did he remember whether or not Alexander had any blood on his face. The only thing the officer remembered is that one of the prisoners complained about his arm and although there were doctors at the central police station, the officer stopped at Provident Hospital. The officer testified that generally if a prisoner complains of being sick, ill, or hurt, he is taken to a hospital. If not, the lockup keeper will not accept the prisoners and the officers would have to take them back to a hospital.

Officer Smith was working the squadrol with officer Saxon on New Year's Day, 1966. He remembered Alexander and having transported him to Provident Hospital. He did not notice anything unusual about Alexander at that time and recalled that Alexander had banged against the window to get his attention and asked to be taken to a hospital because his arm was hurting. Alexander was handcuffed and taken into the hospital. About ten minutes elapsed before he emerged, but officer Smith did not recall seeing any bandages on his head, nor did he know what medical attention was given to Alexander at the hospital.

The testimony of the four officers was all of the evidence produced by the State with respect to the motion to suppress the confession. Defendant introduced the testimony of a co-defendant, George Reynolds, the record librarian from Provident Hospital, the doctor who treated Alexander at Provident Hospital, the Inmate's Record from Cook County Jail and his own testimony. Reynolds testified that he thought he was arrested at about one o'clock and taken to the police station around one-thirty. He was kept in a detention room for about four or five hours and at about eight or nine o'clock in the evening, officer Spangelo took him down to the basement, handcuffed him behind his back and asked him if he had anything to do with the robbery. When Reynolds said no, the officer beat him. At about eleven o'clock he was transported from the station with Fred Alexander. His description of Alexander was that his nose looked like it was broken and his lip was puffed. Reynolds could not remember whether it was Alexander's right or left eye, but there was a scar over the eye and both his eye and mouth were bleeding. After stopping at Provident Hospital, Alexander returned to the squadrol with a patch over the eye.

The record librarian of Provident Hospital produced a "Report Of Emergency Case" which showed that Fred Alexander was brought into the hospital at 10:55 p.m., on January 1, 1966. The hospital report showed "laceration forearm" and "laceration of temple (Pt is a prisoner)." The report was signed by Dr. Nazon.

Dr. Nazon remembered seeing Alexander on the evening of January 1, 1966, in the Provident Hospital emergency room. He did not remember the officer who brought Alexander in, but he did remember that policemen brought him into the hospital. The doctor recalled that the statement "laceration forearm" was incorrect and should have read "laceration forehead." He cleaned and sutured the wound on the forehead, but could not remember whether it was the right or left side. This was the only injury Dr. Nazon remembered. On the doctor's report it stated "Treatment: C & S plus T T." The doctor explained that this meant clinic, suture and toxoid.

When Alexander was admitted to Cook County Jail, an "Inmate's Record" was prepared. On the second page of the Inmate's Record there is a physical chart on which the intake clerk drew a circle on the skeletal figure on the chart and wrote "cut on left cheek." A second circle was drawn around the right eye and he wrote "hemorrhage in the rt. eye — bad."

Alexander took the stand on his own behalf and testified that he was arrested at about five o'clock in the evening on January 1, 1966. He was taken to the police station about five-thirty and handcuffed to a chair. He denied being advised of his rights and said that he was asked a few questions and then left alone for about three hours. At about eight-thirty or nine o'clock he was taken downstairs to the basement of the police station. Officer Spangelo and two other officers started asking him questions about the robberies. When he said he did not know anything, they hit him in the nose and he fell to the ground. He could see blood gushing out of his nose. As he tried to get back up one of the officers kicked him and they continued to ask him questions and beat him. Alexander thought he passed out for a little while, but when he came to, the questions began all over again. He did not know how much time had passed while the beating was going on. He was hit several times by the officers with a police stick and with their fists. His eye was hit so hard that he could not see clearly for a couple of weeks.

Alexander further testified that after they hit him for a while they took him over to a water fountain and held his head down in a sink half full of water. This was repeated three or four times. At this ...

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