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The People v. Jackson





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. DANIEL A. ROBERTS, Judge, presiding.

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE SOLFISBURG DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT: Defendant Robert Jackson was convicted of murder along with DeSoto Allen in a joint trial in 1956, and on appeal by Jackson alone this court remanded the cause to the circuit court of Cook County on the issue of the "voluntariness" of the confession. (31 Ill.2d 408.) The circuit court, after a hearing on the issue, held that the confession was voluntary and that the conviction be permitted to stand. Defendant has appealed to this court, contending that the confession was involuntary, and that there were reversible errors in admitting a certain record of the county jail, and in admitting the testimony, from the original trial of this cause, of a police officer since deceased.

From the voluminous record relating to the confession, it appears that defendant, age 23, was first arrested on February 29, 1956, for the murder of Isaac Berger during the course of a robbery of Berger's store. He was released three days later by the court, on March 2. Defendant was re-arrested at 10:30 P.M. on March 15, 1956, in the home of his mother and in the presence of his sisters, Eloise Johnson and Mary Hodge, by Officers Charles, Herring and Trout, while Officers Engelsman and Coffey were stationed outside in the rear. Defendant was handcuffed and taken to the Fillmore Police Station, and, according to the testimony of Officers Herring, Engelsman and Trout, the Supervisor of the Homicide Bureau at Police Headquarters at 11th and State, defendant was questioned by them and by Officer Charles in the detectives' interrogation room on the first floor of the Fillmore Station.

At first defendant denied any participation in the crime; and after being questioned for approximately ten minutes, he was confronted with the prisoner DeSoto Allen, who had apparently implicated him, according to the police reports. Defendant then admitted his part in the crime, and implicated a Don Wilson, from whom he claimed he had rented the gun.

Defendant denied he made any admission of his own participation, and said he was questioned only about a gun he had. He testified that he had been taken down to the basement of the police station, which he described, that a bag was put over his head, and that he was struck behind the ear and beaten in the stomach by several officers. He also said that he thought he asked Officer Herring to make a phone call — that was the only officer or person he asked — and the officer didn't say anything. About half an hour after defendant had arrived at the station, he and police officers went to Wilson's house on Kedzie Avenue, at defendant's direction. Wilson was not at home, but his wife told them he was at work. Defendant and Officers Herring and Charles waited at the Wilson home for about an hour; while some of the other officers went to get Wilson and proceeded with the investigation of the gun.

Apparently during this interval, at about 12:30 A.M., about two hours after defendant was arrested, according to the testimony of his two sisters, they went to the station and asked if Robert Jackson was there. They were told, "No." Then they left the station.

About 1:00 A.M. on March 16, Officers Herring and Charles returned to the station with defendant and Wilson. At approximately the same time, according to the testimony of the victim's stepson, the police telephoned and asked him to come down to the station because two persons had confessed to the murder of Isaac Berger. At about 1:30 or 1:45 A.M., while waiting in the station for Assistant State's Attorney Whalen to arrive, the stepson observed for some fifteen minutes the two persons sitting at the opposite end of the room, about 25 feet away. They were laughing and joking. He observed nothing unusual about their faces or any exposed portions of their bodies. They were later identified to him as defendant and DeSoto Allen. Defendant testified that while waiting for the Assistant State's Attorney to arrive, he had been beaten again.

At approximately 2:00 A.M. Assistant State's Attorney Whalen and a stenotypist arrived to take a statement from defendant and DeSoto Allen. It was taken in the captain's office, and present in the room were defendant, Allen, Whalen, the stenotypist, police officers Charles, Halley and Herring, and the victim's stepson.

Whalen propounded the questions and defendant and DeSoto Allen answered. The statement took about twenty minutes, and was taken down by the stenotypist, who later testified that the typed statement corresponded to his stenotyped notes, and was in the same condition as it was in 1956 when he completed it, except for being more frayed and including trial exhibit markings.

Whalen testified that he had an independent recollection of the event, had observed defendant during the twenty minutes when he questioned him, and noticed nothing unusual about defendant's hands or face. Furthermore, no one in the presence of the Assistant State's Attorney abused defendant; nor did defendant complain to him of any such abuse. The court reporter who took the statement also testified that there was nothing unusual about defendant's appearance, as did the victim's stepson. DeSoto Allen said he saw blood on defendant's wrists and on his clothes, but mentioned it to no one at the time. He also stated that he saw no one strike or mistreat defendant at any time. Defendant said he answered the assistant State's Attorney's questions because they had beaten him, but he did not complain to the assistant State's Attorney because he was not asked about any complaints.

At the conclusion of the questioning Whalen asked defendant and Allen if they would be willing to sign the statement when it was typed up, and they said they would. However, when defendant was taken to Whalen's office later that morning, at about 10:30 A.M., defendant refused to sign the statement.

Defendant's mother testified that when she went to the station at about 10:00 or 11:00 A.M. on March 16, the morning after the arrest, she was not allowed to see her son, and didn't know whether he was there or not. She also testified that when the police took her son to the police station, she called her own mother and they got in touch with lawyer Schultze.

At about 2:00 P.M. that same day, March 16, defendant was taken to the county jail, where he was processed. Defendant said he never mentioned any of his beatings to the doctor who examined him at the jail, but complained that his wrists were sore from the handcuffs.

The receiving clerk at the jail brought defendant's inmate record, and stated that he did not know for a fact the processing procedures in 1956, but that defendant's inmate card was the same as those which he presently handles in his work. That card recited certain personal history of defendant, the cause for his commitment, his picture, fingerprints, and the section filled out by the examining doctor. Mrs. Dicks, an employee of the jail since 1955, identified the card as an original record, taken from the old files of the county jail, and testified that such examinations were standard procedure and doctors were required to include such information, but she could not identify the particular doctor's signature. The medical notations indicated that defendant's condition was good, and showed on the printed figure of the human form some old scars on the elbows.

All of the police officers who had been with defendant at any time from his arrest until he was taken to the county jail the following afternoon, testified at this hearing, with the exception of Officers Charles and Halley, who, as stipulated, were dead. The testimony of Officer Charles was read at this hearing. Defendant was his prisoner and was with him continuously from his arrest until after his statement was taken by the assistant State's Attorney. Officer Charles described the arrest, the questioning in the detectives' room, the trip to the Wilson home and defendant's statement to the assistant State's Attorney, ...

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