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People v. Baxtrom





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of St. Clair County; the Hon. PATRICK J. FLEMING, Judge, presiding.


Defendant Peter Baxtrom appeals from a judgment of the circuit court of St. Clair County entered on a jury verdict finding him guilty of murder. He was sentenced to a period of 14 to 20 years' imprisonment. On appeal he contends that (1) the juvenile court abused its discretion in certifying him to be tried as an adult; and (2) the trial court erred in not suppressing his written statement because it was involuntarily given. We affirm the judgment of the circuit court.

On October 3, 1977, defendant was charged in a delinquency petition with the murder of Anthony M. Lee on September 20, 1977, during the commission of a forcible felony, armed robbery. At defendant's adjudicatory hearing on October 19, 1977, the State filed a motion for leave to prosecute under the criminal law. During the hearing on that motion, the State called Officer Willie Rich, a juvenile officer of the East St. Louis police department. Based on his review of the police report, including a statement by the defendant, and his conversations with one of the investigating detectives, Officer Rich testified as to the background and circumstances of the homicide.

Officer Rich testified that the defendant and his stepbrother, Jerome Hawkins, were walking down State Street in East St. Louis after midnight on September 30, 1977. Defendant had a .38 caliber revolver in his pocket and allegedly fired several shots at a passing car driven by a man who defendant said had previously robbed him and his stepbrother. At the intersection of 20th and State Streets, they came to an outdoor car wash and observed the victim, Anthony Lee. The two decided to rob him, so Jerome went to the back of the car where Mr. Lee was standing and told him to hand over his wallet. Jerome was in possession of a sawed-off .410 gauge shotgun. Defendant was at the front of the car with the revolver in his hand. During the robbery, the shotgun discharged at point-blank range, the victim fell, and Jerome and defendant ran from the scene.

Officer Rich testified that on the day of the shooting, defendant was still a juvenile, being within one month of his 17th birthday. The officer also testified as to the defendant's past contacts with the police and the disposition of those cases. On June 17, 1974, defendant was arrested for burglary and placed on supervision for six months by the court. On January 8, 1975, he was arrested for fighting but released to his mother. Defendant was also arrested for taking money from another juvenile on June 10, 1975, but his mother agreed to reimburse the victim. On October 8, 1975, he was arrested for aggravated battery, but the case was dismissed by the court. Eight days later he was arrested as a burglary suspect but released to his parents pending further investigation. Defendant was also accused of rape on April 29, 1977, but the mother of the victim declined to prosecute. Officer Rich also testified that defendant had dropped out of school on November 11, 1976, and had been absent more days than he had been present during the previous school year.

The motion to transfer was then argued, and the court entered an order that it had "no objection to the trial of this minor as an adult * * *." The court entered a second order dated October 24, 1977, and filed October 26, 1977, which read as follows:

"This cause coming on for certification to prosecute minor as an adult under Section 702-7. Sworn testimony taken, witness presented, this Court does find that the factual evidence presented does indicate that sufficient evidence would be available upon which a Grand Jury would be expected to return an indictment; that it appears to this Court that the offense as charged was committed in an aggressive and premeditated manner; that it is of significant importance to this Court that the minor is within thirty (30) days of attaining age seventeen (17); that while the previous criminal history of this minor does not indicate commission of crimes in violence, said history is sufficient to be of importance in the issue of whether this minor should be tried as an adult; that there are no facilities particularly available to the Juvenile Court for treatment and rehabilitation of this minor and that this Court feels that for the security of the public and for the betterment of this minor, that it may be necessary to continue custody of this minor beyond the period of his minority. For the above reasons and causes, this Court does allow the motion presented under Chapter 37, 702-7, and enters no objection to the prosecution of Peter Darrell Baxtron as an adult. Upon the issuance of criminal adult pleadings, petition filed herein shall be dismissed."

Defendant and Jerome Hawkins were indicted for murder on November 17, 1977, and a motion to sever the cases was granted. On January 24, 1978, defendant filed a motion to suppress his confession. The hearing on the motion was held on February 10, 1978, during which Detectives Richard Stone and Isadore Chambers of the East St. Louis police department testified that defendant became a suspect in the murder through a statement given by Hawkins implicating him. Detective Stone stated that he and Detective Chambers went to defendant's home on Sunday, October 2, 1977, and asked a young lady who answered the door to speak with defendant's father. Mr. Baxtrom was not home. However, defendant came out on the porch and was arrested, read his Miranda rights and told he could be certified and tried as an adult. Detective Stone told the young lady, defendant's sister, that defendant was being taken to the police station and that the father should call there when he returned. This was approximately 3:15 p.m.

Upon arriving at the police station, the officers attempted to contact a juvenile officer, but learned there was none on duty on Sunday afternoon. Detective Chambers again advised defendant of his Miranda rights and read to him the waiver of rights form used by the East St. Louis police department, explaining each right individually. Defendant was then asked to read it and initial each right being waived and sign the form at the bottom, all of which he did. The detectives testified that he appeared to understand what he was doing.

At that time interrogation began with Detective Stone informing the defendant that Jerome Hawkins had given a statement. Defendant then gave a statement which he signed at 4:40 p.m. Defendant's parents never called or appeared at the station, and Detective Stone stated that defendant never asked to speak to his parents or an attorney and declined an offer to make a telephone call. The defendant did not present any evidence, but counsel argued that the police had made inadequate efforts to contact a juvenile officer and defendant's parents. The motion to suppress was denied, and defendant was tried, convicted and sentenced as aforesaid.

Appellant first contends that the juvenile court abused its discretion in certifying him as an adult because the requisite statutory findings were not supported by the evidence. The statute permitting juveniles to be prosecuted as adults, section 2-7 of the Juvenile Court Act, provides:

"(3) If a petition alleges commission by a minor 13 years of age or over of an act which constitutes a crime under the laws of this State, and, on motion of the State's Attorney, a Juvenile Judge, designated by the Chief Judge of the Circuit to hear and determine such motions, after investigation and hearing but before commencement of the adjudicatory hearing, finds that it is not in the best interests of the minor or of the public to proceed under this Act, the court may enter an order permitting prosecution under the criminal laws.

(a) In making its determination on a motion to permit prosecution under the criminal laws, the court shall consider among other matters: (1) whether there is sufficient evidence upon which a grand jury may be expected to return an indictment; (2) whether there is evidence that the alleged offense was committed in an aggressive and premeditated manner; (3) the age of the minor; (4) the previous history of the minor; (5) whether there are facilities particularly available to the Juvenile Court for the treatment and rehabilitation of the minor; and (6) whether the best interest of the minor and the security of the public may require that the minor continue in custody or under supervision for a period extending beyond his minority." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 37, par. 702-7(3).)

Appellant agrees that there was sufficient evidence to support an indictment, and admits that his age of 16 years, 11 months, probably does not militate against his certification, but contends that there was insufficient evidence to support the other factors. His argument is that "[a] review of the instant record demonstrates that despite the trial court's findings, which merely restated the statutory criteria for transfer, ...

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