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People v. Krueger

OPINION FILED OCTOBER 17, 1980.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, APPELLEE,

v.

MICHAEL KRUEGER, APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Appellate Court for the Second District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Winnebago County, the Hon. John E. Sype, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE MORAN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Following a jury trial in the circuit court of Winnebago County, defendant, Michael Krueger, was convicted of murder and sentenced to 20 to 50 years in the penitentiary. The appellate court affirmed (74 Ill. App.3d 881), and we granted defendant leave to appeal.

Defendant contends that the police violated his Miranda rights by continuing to interrogate him after he requested counsel.

Prior to his trial for the murder of James Finnegan, defendant moved to suppress certain inculpatory statements made to three Rockford police officers soon after his arrest. A hearing was held on defendant's motion, during which it was revealed that defendant was arrested on the evening of November 4, 1976, pursuant to a sworn statement which defendant's girlfriend, Sharon Sularz, had given to the Rockford police. Her statement recited the details surrounding an incident in which defendant caused Finnegan's death by stabbing him several times with a knife while the two were struggling in a car during the early morning hours of August 28, 1976. Prior to being questioned by Detective Donnelli, Detective Otwell and Sergeant Galvanoni, defendant was given the full Miranda warnings. Defendant stated that he understood his rights and, at 8:20 p.m., signed a written waiver-of-rights form.

Defendant first answered questions about several burglaries, unrelated to the stabbing incident, and stated that he had been involved in nothing else. After being questioned about the stabbing, however, defendant signed a statement implicating himself in Finnegan's death. All three officers testified that defendant made no request relating to his Miranda rights during this time period. On cross-examination, however, each officer testified that defendant did make a response when they started to question him about the stabbing. According to Detective Donnelli, defendant said, "Wait a minute. Maybe I ought to have an attorney. You guys are trying to pin a murder rap on me, give me 20 to 40 years." Detective Otwell testified that defendant raised partially up out of his chair and said, "Hey, you're trying to pin a murder on me. Maybe I need a lawyer." Lastly, according to Sergeant Galvanoni, defendant said, "Just a minute. That's a 20 to 40 years sentence. Maybe I ought to talk to an attorney. You're trying to pin a murder rap on me." Detective Otwell replied to defendant that the news media, not the police, had said it was murder; that only two people knew what had happened and one of them was dead. When defendant asked the officers how they knew the stabbing was not done in self-defense, the officers said they did not know and that was why they wanted to talk to him about it. Shortly thereafter, defendant gave a written statement admitting that he had stabbed Finnegan and describing the circumstances surrounding the incident.

According to defendant's testimony, at the time the officers asked him about the stabbing incident, he indicated to them that he thought he should have an attorney. On cross-examination, he admitted that the officers' account of the conversation was accurate. The cross-examination continued as follows.

"Q. Why did you continue talking to them after you say you said, `I think I should have an attorney'?

A. Have you ever been interrogated by three Rockford Police Detectives?

Q. No, I haven't, but I want to know why you continued talking to them.

A. Because I believed it was self-defense. I still do. They wanted a statement of what happened to clear it up. I wanted to get it off my chest, so I gave them a statement.

Q. But you know you had a right to have an attorney there if you wanted one, didn't you?

A. Yes, I did.

Q. You ever insist on having an ...


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