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People v. Savory





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Peoria County; the Hon. STEPHEN COVEY, Judge, presiding.


After a jury trial in the circuit court of Peoria County, Johnny Lee Savory was found guilty of the murders of Connie Cooper and James Robinson, Jr. He was sentenced to concurrent terms of imprisonment of 50 to 100 years for each offense. On this appeal the defendant argues the court erred in denying his motion to suppress his confession because, first, there is no showing that he knowingly and voluntarily waived his constitutional rights; second, his right to refrain from responding to further questioning after he had indicated such an intention was not scrupulously observed; and third, his confession was not voluntary, considering the evidence as a whole. Defendant also contends the sentences imposed were excessive.

The defendant, Johnny Lee Savory, was 14 years old at the time these charges were brought. After a hearing it was decided the defendant should be prosecuted as an adult. The evidence at trial centered around the defendant's confession. The events and circumstances which preceded his oral confession and which were presented at the hearing on the defendant's motion to suppress his confession need to be summarized.

The bodies of the two victims were discovered on January 18, 1977, by the victims' stepfather, William Douglas, in the bedroom of their residence. Both had sustained multiple stab wounds. The police were notified, and this set into motion a large scale investigation. Many witnesses and suspects were interviewed and several were given lie detector tests.

Johnny Lee Savory, the 14-year-old defendant, was questioned by police officers beginning at 3:30 p.m. on January 25, 1977, in regard to the deaths of Connie Cooper and James Robinson. This interrogation began at the Late Afternoon School where the defendant was a student. At the outset of the interrogation, the defendant stated he did not want to talk. However, the police convinced him to talk. The defendant was not given any Miranda warnings at that time. At that time, the defendant gave police an account of his activities of the day prior to the murders.

The defendant related that on the day prior to the murders, he met James Robinson, Jr., at the Late Afternoon School at approximately 3:30. The pair left together at 6:30 p.m. and arrived at the Robinson residence at 7. Savory stated that Robinson took the keys from the mailbox and opened the front door to the house where they prepared some food. Savory told the police that he had taken hot dogs out of the refrigerator and some corn and prepared it in a skillet. After finishing their meal, the pair placed the television on the floor and practiced Kung Fu. At approximately 8 p.m., the pair went to the residence of a Miss Jones, who lent defendant $4. Defendant gave half the money to Robinson and they went to a restaurant and ate. After chasing home a young man who had called them a dirty name, the two returned to the Robinson residence. The pair again practiced Kung Fu, and at 11 p.m., defendant walked home. Defendant further told the police that he called Robinson on the phone that night and spoke until about 1:30 or 2 in the morning. The defendant said that Robinson asked defendant to return at 8, although the defendant did not do so.

At about 4 p.m., the officers asked the defendant to return with them to the police station and defendant agreed to do so. On the way to the station, defendant suggested they stop at his father's house so he could show them a knife that was similar to one owned by the victim, James Robinson, and the officers did so. Defendant went into the house alone and returned without the knife saying that his father had the knife with him and was receiving medical attention at St. Mark's.

At 5 p.m., defendant was brought into an interrogation room at the police station and repeated his previous story before four officers. This session lasted about one-half hour. Later that evening, the defendant was again interrogated, this time with specific emphasis concerning certain factual discrepancies between some of the known facts and defendant's earlier statement. Specifically, defendant had stated that he was very close friends with Robinson and had in fact known both him and Cooper for many years. This, however, conflicted with other information known by the police. There also were discrepancies concerning who prepared the food that defendant and Robinson ate at the Robinson residence as well as the fact that the police had information defendant had not spoken to Robinson on the phone late in the evening prior to the murders. This session lasted one-half hour to 45 minutes.

Although he had made no incriminatory statements up to this point in time, defendant was taken to a polygraph examiner at 10 p.m. The defendant was accompanied by two police officers and his probation officer. The defendant was alone with the polygraph examiner for about an hour — until 11 p.m. At the end of the polygraph examination, the results of which were made known to Officer Cannon, the defendant was placed under arrest and read his Miranda rights. The defendant, in response, stated that he did not want to talk. At about 11 p.m., defendant was returned to the police station and later taken to the detention home for the night.

The following morning, January 26, 1977, defendant was reinterrogated. The reinterrogation began at approximately 10:30 a.m. at the police station with Percy Baker and Y.T. Savory, defendant's father, present. Officer Haynes, who did not testify at the suppression hearing, read defendant his Miranda rights. During the ensuing interrogation, defendant was confronted with several discrepancies at which time defendant would change his story. However, defendant still denied committing the murders. This session ended around noon, whereupon defendant was fed.

At 12:30 p.m. defendant was again interrogated in a short session. At that time, defendant stated he would tell everything to Officer Brown. Officer Brown then began a session with the defendant that lasted until 5 p.m. Although defendant gave a detailed statement of his activities, he still made no incriminatory statements. At the close of this session, defendant was forced to change clothes.

At approximately 6 p.m. defendant again took a polygraph examination. This session, with just the defendant and the examiner present, lasted about an hour and a half. At the end of the examination, Officer Brown entered the examination room and the defendant then made incriminating statements. Defendant indicated to Officer Brown the location of some of the stab wounds. Defendant told Brown that he and Robinson were practicing Kung Fu and that Robinson wanted defendant to use the knife. Defendant stated that he accidentally stuck Robinson. Defendant said his mind went blank, and when Cooper came into the room, she came at him and he cut her.

Defendant then returned to the police station where he denied any involvement to Percy Baker, his probation officer. Officer Brown told the defendant that this was "backtracking" and began to question defendant for details of the murders.

Defendant filed a written motion to suppress the confession which was denied after a full hearing. The confession and earlier statements were heard as evidence at trial.

The rest of the State's evidence consisted primarily of a discussion of various pieces of physical evidence that was obtained at the Robinson-Cooper residence. The physical evidence related the nature of the victims' wounds, the physical setup of their home and did tend to show defendant had at some ...

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