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People v. Clay





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. PAUL A. O'MALLEY, Judge, presiding.


Defendant, Edwin Clay, was convicted by a jury of burglary and possession of burglary tools (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 38, pars. 19-1 and 19-2) and sentenced to an extended term of 14 years in the penitentiary. On appeal he contends that the court erred in denying his motion to suppress and that he was denied his constitutional right to a speedy trial.

Defendant filed a motion to suppress the statement which he gave police following his arrest alleging that the statement was involuntary because it was obtained as a result of physical coercion. Prior to the hearing defendant was unable to specify the officers involved in the alleged beating, but defense counsel informed the court that they were among those named on defendant's statement and any others who might have been in the room where the alleged beating took place.

Three police officers testified that they were in the room when defendant made his statement. Investigator Thomas Rennie testified that he was present at 24th Street and the Dan Ryan Expressway at 5:05 a.m. on July 16, 1978, when defendant and two others were arrested. He placed defendant into an unmarked squad car and observed that he had a black eye. He advised defendant of his constitutional rights, and defendant indicated that he understood.

The officer next spoke with defendant in a second-floor interview room at the Area 6 police station where defendant was handcuffed to a ring in the wall. Rennie left the room to get typing paper and conferred outside the door with Investigators Moran and Biebel. He reentered the room a few minutes later with Moran, uncuffed the defendant and informed him again of his constitutional rights. Defendant indicated that he understood these rights and then waived them. Biebel entered the room a few minutes later.

Rennie then typed up the statement given by defendant through a question-and-answer format. He stated that the interview lasted about 20 minutes and that three officers were present. When the statement was completed, defendant looked at it, initialed and signed it. He stated that he did not promise anything to the defendant, did not threaten or beat him and did not see anyone else beat him. He did not believe that anyone entered the room in the short time that he left to get the paper, and defendant declined his offer of medical attention.

Rennie also identified a picture of defendant which he thought was taken after the interview and accurately depicted defendant's appearance at that time. He noted there was a small red mark on defendant's arm, but he did not recall whether defendant had that mark when he entered the room.

Investigator Moran stated that he was also assigned to investigate an alleged burglary involving the defendant. He noticed defendant's black eye when defendant arrived at the station. He entered the interview room about 6:15 a.m. where defendant was handcuffed to a ring in the wall. He stated that he was in the room for about 20 minutes and that he, Rennie and Biebel were the only ones who entered the room during that time. He also denied beating or threatening the defendant, and did not see anyone else do so. Moran further stated that the photo of defendant was taken before he entered the lockup, and that it was an accurate portrayal of the way he looked after the interview.

Investigator Biebel stated that he had a conversation with Officer Rennie outside the second-floor interview room and entered the room about 5 minutes later. Rennie was conversing with the defendant and both were seated at a table. This interview lasted about 20 minutes, after which defendant read and signed the statement. He also denied threatening or beating defendant and did not see anyone else engaged in these activities. He noticed that defendant had a black eye when he first saw him at the scene of the arrest, and that the picture of defendant taken after the interview accurately depicted defendant's condition at that time.

Defendant testified that he was arrested while riding in a car on the Dan Ryan Expressway; he did not converse with any of the officers at the scene. He was then transported to the police station in a police vehicle and arrived there about 6 a.m. He was taken to a small room by two officers and his hands were cuffed behind his back. When they entered the room, the officer who was walking ahead of him threw down a card and said, "Here's your rights." He then turned around and hit defendant in the eye. More blows followed, but defendant did not know who hit him. He stated that at one point there were four to six officers in the room and that he knocked over a chair which broke beneath him. He also stated that he was kicked while he was on the floor and was eventually examined by a paramedic when he was processed at the Cook County jail.

On cross-examination, he stated that he believed that Officer Nickeas was the one who struck him in the eye, but that he did not know who was behind him. He said that the other blows came from all directions and that he was kicked numerous times in the stomach, back and chest. He was also pulled up from the floor by his neck and Nickeas choked him so that he had trouble breathing. This beating lasted about 30 minutes, after which one of the officers told him that a statement was going to be prepared and that he was going to sign it. He did not recall who made this statement, but that Rennie was the only person in the room when the statement was being typed; defendant remained handcuffed with his hands behind his back.

Defendant further stated that he signed the statement in accordance with the instructions given by the officer but he did not read it beforehand. His photo was taken thereafter. He did not recall telling Rennie that: "I walked into the basement and hit my eye on the wire. I saw stars and thought I knocked my eye out," nor did he tell police there was something hanging from the ceiling "like a rod." He did not seek medical attention until he was processed at the jail and told the paramedic that the police had beaten him. He was examined by a doctor the following day.

The paramedic, who examined defendant at the jail 36 hours later, also testified for the defense. He stated that defendant had a black eye, bruises on his arm and a red mark on his chest. He gave defendant a cold pack for his eye and completed a routine report of the examination. He admitted on cross-examination that he had no independent recollection of his examination of defendant and was relying on his report. The report showed that defendant had a black eye and two bruises about the size of a quarter on his right arm around the elbow, but there were no entries indicating injuries to defendant's stomach, chest or back. He viewed the photo of defendant which showed the area of the arm where he observed the bruises. He stated that on the photo there appeared to be a scratch on defendant's arm where he observed the bruises.

Officer Moran testified in rebuttal that he observed defendant enter the interview room about 5:45 a.m. He remained outside the interview room and did not leave the area until he entered the room himself. During this period he did not ...

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