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People v. Washington





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Winnebago County; the Hon. JOHN E. SYPE, Judge, presiding. MR. JUSTICE RECHENMACHER DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

The defendant, Walter Washington, Jr., was convicted by jury verdict of armed robbery and murder. He contends that (1) certain statements he made while in custody at Rockford Police Headquarters, after he had requested an attorney, should not have been admitted into evidence, (2) the trial court abused its discretion in denying defendant's motion to exclude at trial his record of a 1965 conviction for burglary, and (3) certain evidence was improperly obtained by the police in an automobile, and therefore should not have been admitted into evidence. (His third contention was raised in defendant's supplemental pro se brief filed by leave of court.)

On March 22, 1974, at about 8:50 p.m. Mrs. Kappa Sharp, a cashier at the Pacemaker Grocery Store in Rockford, was busy preparing for closing at 9 p.m. A man with a gun came up behind her and told her to open the cash register. She started to scream and he told her if she did he would kill her. She opened the register at his direction and he removed therefrom the five and ten dollar bills ($1270). She described the robber as a Negro who wore a plaid woman's cape with a hood, and a ski mask over his face; the weapon held by him was a silver revolver. Mrs. Sharp pressed a buzzer which caused the store owner, Mr. Zagnoni, and two stock boys, Henry Gregg, Jr., age 14, and Michael Cook, age 17, who were stacking milk cases in the back, to come to her. Mrs. Sharp told them of the robbery and the two boys ran out the front "OUT" door in pursuit. They then picked up a set of running footprints in the fresh-fallen snow and followed them a short distance to the vicinity of a garage. Henry was about 10 feet in front of Michael and about 25 feet from the corner of a garage when Michael saw the barrel of a gun from behind the corner of the garage. Michael's warning to Henry to "duck" came too late when the robber fired a shot, which struck Henry in the head, causing his death. The robber pointed the weapon at Michael but fled, jumping a fence into an adjacent alley. By that time police arrived on the scene and Police Officer Emigholtz followed a single set of tracks in the snow to another garage. After receiving reinforcements he entered and found defendant "crouching" in a corner with what turned out to be the murder weapon and with the robbery proceeds lying on the floor at the defendant's feet.

It was then about 9 p.m. Officer Emigholtz arrested the defendant and advised him of his "rights" (under Miranda v. Arizona (1966), 384 U.S. 436, 16 L.Ed.2d 694, 86 S.Ct. 1602). Defendant was "cuffed," led into a squad car where officer Murphy advised defendant of his rights; defendant stated he understood them. In response to a question he told Officer Murphy that he was with another person in a 1963 or 1964 white Mercury. At the police station Detective Cronk advised the defendant of his rights by handing him a rights' waiver form, which listed his rights in detail followed by a "waiver of rights." Defendant read the form aloud, said he understood his rights and signed the form using the name "William Brown," the name he had given the police. The defendant then made an oral statement in some detail in the presence of Detective Cronk and Officers Emigholtz and Murphy. The substance of the statement was that he saw a fellow named Jerry Wilson at the Bee Hive Club at about 7:30 p.m. and defendant had a couple of drinks there; they left together, got into Wilson's 1964 or 1965 white Mercury; Wilson then drove to Kishwaukee Street, drove down it, then turned left about a block, then turned right, and parked; Wilson got out of the car and told defendant he was going to see a friend; the defendant stayed in the car about 15 minutes and then got out and started walking down the street; Wilson then came up to him and handed him a gun and a large amount of money; the defendant then saw many police cars in the area and started to run through yards, jumped a fence, ran until he saw a garage was open, went inside and hid in a corner until the police arrived and took him into custody.

When Detective Salamone came into the interrogation room defendant was asked to repeat his statement. He did so but this time stated that after he got the gun and money Wilson ran into the garage with him, stayed awhile and then left. When Detective Palmeri came into the room the defendant repeated this statement.

Defendant was then photographed, given a neutron activation test and placed in a lineup. At about 1 a.m. he was brought back to the interrogation room. The officers talked to the defendant about the lineup and defendant's involvement in the crime, and defendant stated that he did not wish to talk to them anymore. He was then taken to the booking room and when asked if he wished to make a telephone call said he did not wish to do so. There was no further interrogation of the defendant until the following morning and, defendant not having indicated a desire to consult with a lawyer, there is no claim that the procedures followed to that point did not fully comply with the strictures of the Miranda opinion.

At about 9:30 a.m. on March 23 Detective Bland and Officer Fagin brought the defendant from his cell to an office in the Detective Bureau for resumption of interrogation. Officer Fagin advised the defendant of his rights again. The defendant said he understood them, was willing to talk, and to sign the rights' waiver form which he did. Shortly after the officers began to speak with the defendant he stated he wanted a public defender. Detective Bland told him "they could not give it to him, that it would be determined by the court whether he could have a public defender." He told defendant the name of the public defender — Craig Peterson — and gave him the telephone book. The defendant looked up the number, dialed, but received no answer. Officer Fagin asked him if he still wanted to talk to the officers about the case, not having talked to an attorney, and the defendant said "Yes," that he wanted to get the truth out but first wanted to talk to his mother. He dialed a number but the line was busy. He then dialed again and had a conversation which the officer later learned was with his "girl friend," Delores Fair.

The officers later learned that the latter conversation was tape recorded. When they learned about it they took the defendant to the radio room where they had the tape recording played twice for the defendant. (The transcript of the hearing on defendant's motion to suppress shows that that conversation began at 9:44 a.m. and recites: "The tape recorded conversation was then played for the court but because of the unintelligible nature of a lot of it, was not recorded or transcribed." At the conclusion of that hearing the trial court suppressed those tape recordings, and on motion in limine, by defendant's counsel, Mr. Peterson, the trial court barred at trial any testimony or any reference in any manner to that telephone conversation with Ms. Fair.)

The officers then took the defendant back to the office and questioned him until about 1:10 p.m. The defendant tried again to reach the public defender by telephone but received no answer. Defendant was then returned to his cell. (None of the statements made by the defendant during the period from 9:30 a.m. to 1:10 p.m. were introduced at trial.) There was no evidence of further questioning of the defendant during the ensuing period until about 5:30 p.m.

At about 5:30 p.m. on March 23 defendant wanted to talk to "some detective." Detectives Cronk and Gessner responded and brought the defendant to the office. Detective Gessner warned defendant of his rights by reading the rights' waiver form to him. The defendant responded that he understood his rights, having been advised before. Detective Gessner then had him sign the rights' waiver form. Defendant told them that he didn't wish to make a statement, and that he did want to speak to a priest and a psychiatrist. Detective Gessner told defendant that they could probably get a priest for him that evening but he would not be able to have a psychiatrist until he got to the county jail. The defendant was then allowed to call his mother and spoke to her. After this telephone conversation Detective Gessner asked the defendant how he felt and defendant replied that he "felt real bad about the dead boy, his family, and also his own family." In response to further questions by Detective Gessner defendant answered that he was alone when he left Freeport and so remained "all night long." When asked whose car he had the night of the robbery he replied that he wanted to talk but wanted more time to think about it. The defendant was then returned to his cell.

At about 8 p.m. Detectives Gessner and Cronk brought the defendant from his cell in order that he could talk to Father Wentig, the police chaplain. After that private conversation which lasted about 45 minutes the officers spoke again with the defendant for about 5 or 10 minutes. They asked him if it was necessary to advise him of his rights. The defendant said he understood them. He then told them, in response to Detective Gessner's question, that he had been involved in one other robbery and volunteered that he "got nothing out of" the first robbery, that that was the reason he "pulled the second one," and that he wanted to tell the officers about it because he did not want an innocent person going to jail. To another question about the other robbery, defendant finally responded that he had better talk to an attorney. Detective Cronk "looked up" Mr. Peterson's residence telephone number, the call was placed and defendant conversed with him. No subsequent statements of defendant were offered in evidence by the State.

The defendant contends that all statements made by him after he requested an attorney about 9:30 a.m. on March 23 should have been suppressed, and that the admission into evidence of those statements violated his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination under the doctrine of the Miranda decision. We agree.

The procedures to be followed if the person in custody asks to consult with a lawyer are detailed in the Miranda opinion as follows:

"If the individual states that he wants an attorney, the interrogation must cease until an attorney is present. * * *

* * * If authorities conclude that they will not provide counsel during a reasonable period of time in which investigation in the field is carried out, they may refrain from doing so without violating the person's Fifth Amendment privilege so long as they do not ...

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