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People v. White

OPINION FILED SEPTEMBER 26, 1975.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, APPELLEE,

v.

EUTES WHITE, APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Appellate Court for the Fifth District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Clair County; the Hon. Harold O. Farmer, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE SCHAEFER DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

The defendant, Eutes White, was found guilty of murder, in the circuit court of St. Clair County, by a jury which, acting under the authority of the statute then in effect, recommended the death penalty. He was sentenced by the judge to imprisonment for a term of not less than 199 nor more than 200 years. On appeal, the Appellate Court, Fifth District, rejected several of the grounds upon which the defendant attacked the judgment, but found that there was "no evidence in the record to indicate that the defendant was or was not given the required Miranda warnings prior to any questioning." The case was therefore remanded to the trial court for "a new full and complete hearing on the admissibility of the defendant's confession." 10 Ill. App.3d 914 (1973).

Upon remand, a hearing was conducted. The trial court found that the confession was properly received in evidence, and entered a new judgment of conviction and a new indeterminate sentence in accordance with the Unified Code of Corrections. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 38, par. 1001-1-1 et seq.) The defendant again appealed. On this appeal a majority of the appellate court held that the trial court did not err in finding that the defendant's oral and written statements were voluntary. (22 Ill. App.3d 180 (1974).) One judge dissented, pointing out that the "record discloses that the defendant is a borderline retardate with an I.Q. of 76" who initially asked for an attorney but then "signed a confession after 3 days of questioning by the police." It was the opinion of the dissenting judge that the confession should have been excluded under Miranda v. Arizona (1966), 384 U.S. 436, 16 L.Ed.2d 694, 86 S.Ct. 1602. We allowed leave to appeal. The only issue before us is the admissibility of the confession.

The defendant was arrested on the morning of May 24, 1969, for an unrelated offense. What then occurred is described in the testimony of Captain Johnson of the East St. Louis police force:

"State's Attorney: Q: To the best of your recollection what were the events that transpired at the time that you met Mr. White on that day?

A: It was brief. I advised him of his rights; I asked him if he would care to talk about whatever the offense was at that time, and he said he didn't want to talk about it; he would rather see a lawyer.

Q: Was he given an opportunity at that time to make a telephone call?

A: Yes — I am not sure — although he was taken from the office there; he was in my office where he could have made a phone call.

Q: He understood then at that point he didn't have to say anything to anybody?

A: That is right.

Q: What was done with him after he said that he didn't wish to make any statement?

A: To my recollection he was placed back in the cell block.

A: Also he was asked if he understood it.

Q: To your knowledge did he express his understanding of that statement?

A: Yes, he said that he would rather see a lawyer.

Q: Do you know of your own knowledge whether he ever talked to a lawyer after that point?

A: No, I don't."

The significant portions of Captain Johnson's testimony on cross-examination are as follows:

"Q: So that you initially talked to him and gave him his rights, and gave him his rights [sic], and he said I don't choose to make a statement at this time; I would rather have a lawyer?

A: That is right.

Q: Then did you turn the matter over to detective Stannis [sic]?

A: That is right.

Q: Are you quite certain he said that he wanted a lawyer or he didn't want to make a statement?

A: Yes, that is what he said; I didn't talk to him long.

Q: Well, is it your testimony he was refused an opportunity to call someone of his choosing or to have ...


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