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People v. Peterson

OPINION FILED JULY 21, 1977.

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

v.

CHARLES W. PETERSON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of McHenry County; the Hon. JAMES H. COONEY, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE BOYLE DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

On April 4, 1975, a probation revocation hearing was held for Charles W. Peterson, defendant-appellant (hereinafter defendant). The defendant was on probation from a 1972 burglary conviction. The findings of the hearing were that the defendant had violated his probation by leaving Illinois without court permission and by committing the criminal offenses of burglary, theft and unlawful possession of a hypodermic syringe.

The trial court made its findings based upon the following facts:

On May 30, 1973, the defendant was stopped by a member of the Crystal Lake Police Department for a traffic violation. While the defendant was talking to the officer, his passenger, a 16-year-old boy, began shouting obscenities at the officer. The officer asked the passenger to step out of the car. The passenger did so, but continued to be abusive towards the officer. After determining the passenger was under age, the officer arrested him for curfew violation and placed him in the squad car. Returning to the defendant's car, the officer asked permission to search the front seat of it. The defendant consented.

The search revealed a hypodermic syringe hidden under the passenger side of the front seat. When the officer questioned the defendant about the syringe, he denied any knowledge of it and has continued to do so.

After ticketing the defendant for a traffic violation, the officer let the defendant go. No action concerning the syringe was taken at that time. However, on June 11, 1973, a warrant was issued for the defendant's arrest, charging him with the unlawful possession of a hypodermic syringe.

On cross-examination at the probation revocation hearing, the officer testified he requested permission to search the front seat of the car in an effort to find evidence to explain the "radical" behavior of the passenger.

At approximately 12:10 a.m. on June 22, 1973, the defendant was arrested on the above warrant. The arresting officers took the defendant into custody and transported him to the Crystal Lake Police Department. There he was given his Miranda warnings and was questioned by two officers in an interrogation room. After one or two preliminary questions about the syringe, the officers began questioning the defendant about the June 10, 1973, burglary and theft from a Crystal Lake gasoline station.

This line of questioning was prompted by a tip that one of the officers had received from an unnamed informant. The informant said that the defendant and two others had committed the burglary and theft. The two accomplices were known to the informant as Mike and Eddie.

Initially, the defendant denied any participation in the crime. He claimed he had been in Chicago with his girlfriend on the night in question. When asked who his girlfriend was, the defendant refused to answer, saying he did not want to get her involved. The officers, having found the girlfriend's name and address in the defendant's wallet, indicated their intention to have the Chicago police call on the girl to check out the alibi. It was at this time that the defendant confessed to the crime and named Eddie Crittendon as one of his accomplices.

The confession and the testimony of Crittendon were admitted at the revocation hearing over the objections of the defendant. The defendant based his objections on the fact that the confession had previously been suppressed from being used at trial and his contention that the testimony of Crittendon was therefore the "fruit of the poisonous tree." The confession was originally suppressed on the grounds that it was obtained through the use of psychological coercion.

After considering the evidence presented, the trial court revoked the defendant's probation and sentenced him to a term of three to nine years in prison.

It is from the revocation of his probation that the defendant appeals.

First, the defendant contends that the trial court was in error when it allowed his previously suppressed confession to be admitted as evidence ...


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