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People v. Townsend

JULY 26, 1972.




APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. JAMES D. CROSSON, Judge, presiding.


Defendant, M.C. Townsend, was charged with the crimes of rape and murder. After a jury trial, he was convicted of both offenses and was sentenced to serve concurrent terms of 50 to 100 years for murder and 4 to 20 years for rape. Defendant appeals his convictions and presents the following issues for our review:

(1) Whether an oral statement of the defendant admitting the rape and murder was properly received in evidence;

(2) Whether the trial court made adequate findings of fact and conclusions of law in denying defendant's motion to suppress his confession; and

(3) Whether the defendant was proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The evidence in this case indicates that on the morning of June 21, 1967, the deceased Elvira Golarza was walking down Franklin Boulevard in Chicago on her way to work. A witness, Mrs. Mary Armstrong, who resided at 3211 W. Franklin Blvd., testified that sometime between 6:45 and 7:00 on the morning in question she looked out from her window and saw the defendant approach Mrs. Golarza, who did not stop but just kept on walking. Defendant walked along with Mrs. Golarza. Mrs. Armstrong was able to identify the defendant as he had been a neighbor of hers.

Robert Watson who lived at 3249 W. Franklin Blvd., testified that at approximately 7:00 on the morning in question, he heard what sounded like a beachball bouncing in his breezeway and after it became very loud he went outside to investigate and discovered Mrs. Golarza lying in the breezeway. He summoned the police. When the police arrived at approximately 7:00 A.M., they found the victim unconscious, beaten about the head and upper torso with her breasts mutilated. They transported Mrs. Golarza to the hospital where she died the next day of her injuries.

The officers investigating the case on June 21, 1967, were told that defendant had just been seen on Franklin Blvd. When a police officer approached defendant and asked him for identification, defendant started to reach into his pocket as if to get the identification, but then bolted and ran. The officer lost the defendant.

On June 23, 1967, Detective Griffin, a Chicago policeman, was investigating the case when he learned that the defendant might be found at 2322 W. Roosevelt Rd. Detective Griffin obtained a warrant for the arrest of defendant and proceeded to the Roosevelt Road address along with another officer. The officers entered the apartment at 2322 W. Roosevelt Rd. and found the defendant who made a quick move toward a window, but was apprehended.

Defendant was transported to Area 4 Detective Headquarters, and on route, defendant was advised of his constitutional rights. He stated that he understood them. At Detective Headquarters, the constitutional warnings were again repeated, and defendant again indicated that he understood those rights. Defendant then volunteered that the victim had voluntarily had intercourse with him, but that when he had finished the act of intercourse, he noticed a young man standing over them. Defendant stated that he then got up and left. The police later picked up a young man whom defendant identified as the one standing over the victim and himself. When the defendant was informed that this individual had a valid alibi, the defendant confessed to the murder and rape of Mrs. Golarza.

Defendant's initial contention on appeal is that the State violated his Fifth Amendment rights by improperly introducing into evidence his confession of the rape and murder of Elvira Golarza, in contradiction of the United States Supreme Court decision in Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436. Defendant maintains that he was improperly interrogated after he had indicated his refusal to answer any questions and that his confession should therefore not have been admitted into evidence at trial. Defendant contends that the testimony of a police officer at trial in response to an inquiry as to what defendant said after he was read his rights demonstrated a refusal to answer any further questions. The record does not support this contention. The officer stated:

"When Detective Griffin was through he asked Mr. Townsend if he knew what he had talked about and if he understood what he had said, and he said yes he understood and that he had nothing to say."

The officer went on to say, however, that these were not the exact words of defendant and indicated that in fact the defendant stated something to the effect that "* * * he didn't know anything about it", rather than that he had nothing to say. The record reveals that with no further questioning, defendant offered to tell the officers what happened. At this point defendant was again advised of his constitutional rights, and after acknowledging his understanding of those rights, he proceeded to give the officer a statement implicating a young man. When that story turned out to be false and defendant was confronted with that fact, he then volunteered to "get it off his chest", and proceeded to give a detailed description of his commission of the crimes in question.

• 1, 2 Miranda does not prohibit the use of volunteered and unprompted statements of an accused. The United States ...

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