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People v. Thomas





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. RICHARD J. PETRARCA, Judge, presiding.


Rehearing denied April 20, 1981.

Following a jury trial, defendant was convicted of the murder of Gina Somodi (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 38, pars. 9-1 and 9-1(a)(2)) and sentenced to a term of 25 to 50 years. On appeal, he presents these issues for review that: (1) his arrest, statements and use of evidence derived from these statements deprived him of constitutional due process; (2) the juvenile court committed reversible error and deprived him of due process in transferring his case to criminal court; and (3) whether by excluding his statements and evidence derived therefrom, he was proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. We affirm. The pertinent facts follow.

At the transfer hearing held pursuant to the Juvenile Court Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 37, par. 702-7(3)), Officer Dennis Banahan related that he conversed with Louis Clark in his investigation of the homicide of Gina Somodi. He stated that Clark told him that he went to defendant's home around 6 p.m. on March 6, 1974. Defendant went to the basement and returned with a .38-caliber revolver. They stayed in the kitchen for a few minutes and then went to James Houston's home where defendant attempted to buy some bullets for the revolver. Banahan indicated that Clark further stated that they then went to a house of a friend where they played some records and left, walking back towards their neighborhood at 92nd and Woodlawn.

Clark heard defendant make a racial remark as a white male and a white female passed them on the street. The white male stopped and stated, "What is your problem?" The white female victim, Gina Somodi, pulled on her friend's arm and they continued walking. Clark related to Banahan that defendant pulled the revolver from his waistband and said, "You had better freeze by the time I count to five." Gina and her friend did not turn around and continued to walk. Defendant fired once, whereupon Clark began running. Defendant fired again and caught up with Clark at 93rd Street, telling him, "I hit the girl."

The trial court denied defense's motion for a directed finding against the transfer and defendant called probation officer John Martin.

Martin enumerated the facilities and programs available to the juvenile court in the treatment and rehabilitation of a minor. He indicated that his "gut feeling" was that defendant would not need to be incarcerated beyond his minority; however, he would have to consider the report from the juvenile clinical services.

Reference to the social investigation report indicated that defendant was in the eighth grade at the time of the hearing. Martin stated that a teacher had confiscated a knife from defendant when he was in the fourth or fifth grade, which he carried because he had been subject to racial attacks going to and from school.

The State also inquired about a statement defendant made in school, "I will get a gun and shoot you." Martin indicated that a teacher overheard this remark and further he did not think this statement was directed to any teacher.

Sister Mary Everett Taksas testified that she was defendant's eighth grade teacher and had been his sixth grade teacher and seventh grade math teacher. She stated that she found defendant to be a cooperative boy, but a follower who needed self-assurance constantly. She did not consider him a troublemaker and had never known him to be in trouble with the police. She related that she sometimes walked the students two blocks to make sure the white boys would not harass them.

Defendant's father, Samuel Thomas, indicated he was divorced from defendant's mother and defendant had been living with him since the previous May. He described defendant as a follower and further stated that he had no problems with him.

Defendant's mother testified that she had remarried and perhaps defendant resented her remarriage. She considered him obedient, creative and adventurous.

The case was continued to allow for a clinical examination of defendant. Following the clinical, Martin was recalled as a witness and expressed his opinion that defendant did not need to be incarcerated and further that the psychiatrist was not recommending incarceration. He stated that until the instant offense, it appeared that defendant was an obedient and well-adjusted boy.

In ordering the case to be transferred from juvenile court to criminal court, the court found that the murder was committed in an aggressive and premeditated manner; defendant was over the age of 13; the facilities available to the criminal court were the same as the facilities available to juvenile court and further that the best interests of the minor and security of the public required that defendant remain incarcerated beyond his minority.

Prior to trial, defendant filed a motion to quash his arrest and suppress all oral statements and physical evidence. At the hearing, defendant testified that at the time of his arrest at about 3 a.m. on the morning of March 7, 1974, he was 13 years old. He stated that the police officers did not have a ...

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