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In Re S.l.c.

OPINION FILED AUGUST 24, 1979.

IN RE S.L.C., A MINOR. — (THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,

v.

S.L.C., RESPONDENT-APPELLANT.)



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. JOHN P. McGURY, Judge, presiding.

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

Based upon a finding by the juvenile court that he had committed voluntary manslaughter, respondent was adjudicated a delinquent and committed to the Department of Corrections. The sole issue presented for review is whether the prosecutor's cross-examination of respondent improperly elicited evidence of his pretrial silence.

It appears that on a March evening, respondent and two companions confronted McKinley Madison and his brother Lee in the stairwell of an apartment building. At the adjudicatory hearing, Lee testified that respondent told McKinley, "I could go ahead and beat you up"; whereupon, he (McKinley) pushed respondent against a wall. The two companions then took hold of McKinley and, while restraining him, they urged respondent to use his knife. Lee then observed respondent stab McKinley, who later died as the result of two knife wounds in the chest.

Shortly after the occurrence, two Chicago police officers arrived at respondent's home and read him the Miranda warnings. One of those officers testified that after stating that he understood his rights, respondent admitted stabbing McKinley.

Respondent testified that after they met in the stairwell, McKinley threw him down the stairs and struck him — following which McKinley lunged at him and, in doing so, impaled himself on a knife which respondent had been holding in his hand. During the course of cross-examination, the following colloquy occurred:

"Q. Sammy, did you tell the police what happened?

A: No.

Q: Did you tell the police anything?

DEFENSE COUNSEL: I'm going to object and [sic] comment on the Constitutional Rights.

PROSECUTOR: It's perfectly acceptable cross examination, your Honor, for impeachment purposes.

THE COURT: The last answer may stand.

PROSECUTOR: The next question is: Did he tell the police — Strike that. I will rephrase the next question.

Q: Did you say or ever tell the police at any time what happened that night ...


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