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People v. Baine





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Madison County; the Hon. WILLIAM E. JOHNSON, Judge, presiding.


Defendant, James A. Baine, was charged by informations with three separate burglaries. Upon the hearing of a motion to suppress, the trial court suppressed a confession given by defendant. The State now appeals, contending that the trial court erroneously relied on an offer of leniency by a police officer as the single dispositive factor requiring suppression. We agree and therefore reverse the order of the circuit court.

The aforesaid informations were filed on January 23, 1979. Defendant was arraigned on February 2, 1979, and pleaded not guilty to all three charges. It was determined at the arraignment that the defendant was 21 years of age, had a 10th-grade education, and read and understood the English language. A preliminary hearing was held the same day. On March 9, 1979, defendant filed a motion to suppress a statement given the police on numerous grounds, among them that a promise of leniency was an inducement for the confession. A hearing was held on the motion on May 15, 1979.

The State's only witness at the hearing was Officer Charles Myers, the arresting officer and a member of the Hartford Police Department at the time of the arrest. Officer Myers testified that on January 21, 1979, defendant was arrested in Hartford, Illinois, pursuant to a warrant for driving a motor vehicle with a revoked license. The officer testified that defendant had been arrested numerous times by members of the Hartford Police Department, was personally known to him, and the two had conversed approximately 50 times in the past.

Defendant was taken to the police station, booked, placed in a jail cell and advised of his Miranda rights. At the time of this arrest Officer Myers was investigating the instant burglaries, and since defendant had reportedly been observed in the area of one of them, defendant was requested to take a polygraph examination. Defendant had agreed to take one some two to three weeks prior to this, but for numerous reasons the test never occurred. In response to the present request, the defendant declined to take the examination.

Defendant was retained in custody that night. While in jail, he was fed at regular intervals, permitted to use the telephone, did not appear to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and was taken to the hospital upon request in order to obtain medication for a sinus condition. At no time, however, did he ever request to see an attorney.

The following day Officer Myers renewed his request that defendant take a polygraph examination. Defendant declined, but asked to see his girl friend, which was allowed. After the visit, defendant agreed to take the test. Officer Myers told defendant that if he passed the polygraph, no further investigation of his connection with the burglaries would be pursued.

Officer Myers transported the defendant to Fairview Heights where he was again advised of his rights and where the test was administered for one to two hours. During their return to the Hartford Police Department, defendant asked Officer Myers the results of the polygraph, and was told that he had "flunked." They returned between 4:30 and 5:30 p.m., at which time defendant was served supper. Defendant threw the meal in the toilet and was very upset, according to Officer Myers. He then told the officer that he would be willing to pay for the items taken in the burglaries, but was informed this would be impossible because he was on parole. Defendant then asked about the possible prison sentences he could get, and Officer Myers reviewed a chart showing sentencing alternatives for burglary and explained them to defendant. Officer Myers then testified that he told defendant, "I would talk with the State's Attorney; and, you know, tell him to recommend the lowest; but I also advised him that we were not the State's Attorneys office; what they did was entirely up to them."

Upon receiving a call, Officer Myers left the station. In the interim, defendant received another visit from his girl friend. When Myers returned to the station, defendant asked to speak with him and was taken into an office. After being advised of his Miranda rights, defendant gave a statement at 8:10 p.m., in which he confessed to the perpetration of the burglaries. The statement was given orally and recorded on tape, and transcribed the next morning. The statement, which contained a waiver of rights, was eight pages in length and defendant spent approximately 10 minutes reading it before signing the bottom of each page.

Defendant called Assistant State's Attorney Steven Mudge as a witness at the suppression hearing, but following a discussion off the record, the parties stipulated that on January 23, 1979, Officer Myers went to the prosecutor's office and told him a statement had been taken. Moreover, Officer Myers informed him that he had promised defendant a recommendation for the minimum sentence on the charges. The prosecutor replied that the matter would be taken care of.

Following the hearing and argument by counsel, the trial court ruled as follows:

"THE COURT: ALL right. * * * [T]he Court has heard the evidence and examined and reviewed People's Exhibit 1, and, first, finds and feels that although the matters contained in the statement, itself, would only be considered peripherally to this matter, the court feels that statement that was made by the Defendant in this case was a statement that the Court feels was made in truth; and that the Defendant's statement was a true statement.

The issue here is whether it was voluntarily made under the laws and the cases and the — and as such whether or not it should be admitted. The Court finds that the matters — has reviewed the matters submitted by the State, reviewed the matters and the Memorandum of Law submitted by the Defendant and finds that the case of People versus Ruegger 32 Ill. App.3d 765, seems to pretty well lay out what the law is or what the Court is required to do in this case; and that is that the Motion to Suppress should be allowed and is allowed; because of the fact, as I quote from that case, no, this isn't the quote yet.

The matter of the testimony and the polygraph examination isn't significant as far as I am concerned, the significance would be in the matter of implying to the Defendant that there would be a suggestion of leniency. My own personal feeling prior to this case would be that as long as the Defendant knew and was advised that he knew of his rights, could have his attorney there, didn't have to make a statement, would be sufficient; and I feel that I stand corrected by the Appellate Court; and that's why I am ordering, as I see, directed to order by the Appellate Court that the Motion be suppressed because ...

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