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People v. Williams

OCTOBER 30, 1970.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

RUBEN WILLIAMS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. L. SHELDON BROWN, Judge, presiding.

MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE BURMAN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

The defendant, Ruben Williams, was indicted and convicted of the murder of Robert Fleming on October 15, 1967. The defendant was sentenced to serve a minimum of thirty-five and a maximum of fifty years in the Illinois State Penitentiary.

On appeal, the defendant contends (1) that the trial court erred in admitting each of five statements elicited from the defendant in violation of Miranda v. Arizona (1966), 384 U.S. 436, (2) that the admissible evidence does not prove that the defendant was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, (3) that the prosecutor's statement of personal opinion in the closing argument constitutes reversible error, and (4) that the sentence imposed was grossly excessive.

We first consider the admissibility of two oral statements made by the defendant to Kenneth Fowler, an Indiana State Trooper. On October 15, 1967, Fowler investigated a traffic accident on the Indiana Tollway in which the defendant was involved. At the time of the accident the defendant was driving the automobile of the deceased, Robert Fleming. As a routine part of the investigation Trooper Fowler asked the defendant for identification. The defendant, who did not present a driver's license, gave Fowler a registration card bearing the name of Robert Fleming. After further questioning the defendant gave Fowler a credit card which also bore the name of Robert Fleming. Fowler then took the defendant to a police station for a breathalizer test. At the station Fowler read the following warning and waiver to the defendant.

WARNING AND WAIVER

Warning as to Rights

Before we ask you any questions, it is our duty as police officers to advise you of your rights and to warn you of the consequences of waiving your rights.

You have the absolute right to remain silent.

Anything you say to us can be used against you in court.

You have the right to talk to an attorney before answering any questions and to have an attorney present with you during questioning.

You have this same right to the advice and presence of an attorney whether you can afford to hire one or not. We have no way of furnishing you with an attorney, but one will be appointed for you, if you wish, if and when you go to court.

If you decide to answer questions now without an attorney present, you will still have the right to stop answering at any time. You also have the right to stop answering at any time until you talk to an attorney.

Waiver

I have read the above statement of my rights, and it has been read to me. I understand what my rights are. I wish to make a voluntary statement, and I do not want an attorney. No force, threats or promises of any kind or nature have been used by anyone in any way to influence me to waive my rights. I am signing this statement after ...


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