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People v. Townes





Appeal from the Appellate Court for the Fourth District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Vermilion County, the Hon. Paul M. Wright, Judge, presiding.


Subsequent to a denial of defendant's pretrial motion to suppress an inculpatory statement he made to the police, a jury in the circuit court of Vermilion County found defendant, Ivory J. Townes, guilty of rape, deviate sexual assault and home invasion in violation of sections 11-1, 11-3 and 12-11 of the Criminal Code of 1961 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 38, pars. 11-1, 11-3, 12-11). Defendant received consecutive sentences of 30 years each on the rape and deviate sexual assault convictions, to run concurrently with a sentence of 10 years' imprisonment for home invasion. The appellate court reversed and remanded the cause for a new trial, holding that the statement made by the defendant to the police should have been suppressed because it was elicited subsequent to an illegal seizure. (94 Ill. App.3d 850.) We granted the State leave to appeal.

One issue is raised on appeal: Were defendant's fourth amendment rights violated when, on less than probable cause, he was subjected to a lengthy interrogation at the police station?

The complainant testified that, on January 16, 1980, she awoke at approximately 3 a.m. to find a man standing in her bedroom doorway. He was holding what appeared to be an iron bar and demanded money. After she complied with this demand, he forced her back into bed and committed the sexual acts previously stated. The complainant further testified that, while she was struggling with the man, she hit him on the head with the iron bar and bit his finger.

Soon after the occurrence, the victim was able to give the police only a vague description of her assailant. She indicated that he was a short black man with a thin build, a moustache, and an "Afro" hair style, and that his lips were "thick and full." Later, she was unable to identify the intruder from a series of photographs shown to her by the police. However, she did point out certain features in the photographs which resembled those of her assailant. On the basis of this information, and their knowledge of "local" people with criminal records, the police compiled a list of possible suspects.

Defendant's name was included on the list, and two Danville, Illinois, police officers visited his residence in Georgetown, Illinois, at approximately 9 a.m. on the day following the incident. One of the officers testified that the defendant was told they "wished to speak to him at the Danville Police Department." When defendant asked their reason, the officers informed him that they were investigating an entry into an apartment and an assault on a woman. The evidence further disclosed that defendant was given the choice of accompanying the officers in the police car or driving his own car to the station. Defendant chose to ride with the policemen, and they arrived at the station at 9:30 a.m.

Defendant was thereupon taken into an interview room where an officer read to him the Miranda warnings. He initialed a form indicating that he understood these rights. Subsequently, the police conducted a series of interviews with the defendant. He was read the Miranda warnings prior to each session.

During the initial interview, which began at 9:37 a.m. and lasted until 9:50 a.m., defendant provided an alibi with respect to his whereabouts at the time of the offense. When asked to explain the scratches on his neck, he indicated that he received them while playing with his niece. He also stated that he had a bump on his head because the hood of his car fell on him while he was changing the battery.

A second interview was conducted from 10:27 a.m. until approximately 10:45 a.m. Defendant was again asked to explain his wounds, and whether he would consent to a search of his home and car. Pursuant to his consent, an officer searched his car and discovered two iron bars. He noticed a red substance on one of them, which a laboratory test later revealed was human blood. During the third interview, which began at 11:30 a.m. and lasted about 15 minutes, defendant was asked to display his hands. An officer noticed a mark on his left middle finger, which defendant claimed was caused by a splinter.

At 1:10 p.m. a fourth interview began, during which defendant was informed that an iron bar with blood on it was found in his car. Defendant stated that he was using the bar to pry off a battery cable when the car hood fell on him. He was then asked if he would submit to a medical examination, and defendant indicated that he would. He was transported to a medical center at 2 p.m., where he was requested to give head and public hair samples, and fingernail scrapings. The examination revealed scratches and bruises around defendant's neck, a bump on his head, and a bruise on his left middle finger. Defendant was then returned to the police station at 4 p.m. and placed in a lineup. The victim was unable to identify him as her assailant.

A final interview was conducted from 6 p.m. until 10:10 p.m., during which defendant admitted that he was in the victim's apartment and that he had sexual relations with her. However, he maintained that the relations were consensual and that he did not rape her. He further claimed that the victim was not injured when he left her apartment and he thought that any injuries she received resulted from her bumping into something. At the conclusion of the interview, defendant was formally charged. The statements he made during the course of the fifth interview were introduced into evidence at trial by the State.

Defendant, relying on Dunaway v. New York (1979), 442 U.S. 200, 60 L.Ed.2d 824, 99 S.Ct. 2248, argues that he was illegally seized when, without probable cause, he was interrogated at the police station at various times for a period of more than 12 hours. Since his admissions, it is argued, were the product of an unlawful detention, they should have been suppressed pursuant to defendant's motion. We agree that the circumstances of Dunaway are apposite to our case.

In Dunaway, the petitioner was transported by the police to the station house, where he was placed in an interrogation room and questioned. The court found that petitioner's detention for custodial interrogation was similar to that which accompanies a traditional arrest. It therefore concluded that he was seized within the meaning of the fourth amendment. Since the seizure was based on less than probable cause, it was held illegal.

Similarly, in the instant case, the defendant's detention resembled a traditional arrest, and the circumstances indicate that a reasonable person would not have believed he was free to leave. As previously noted, defendant was not questioned briefly at his residence. Rather, he was subjected to five different interviews at the police station and remained there from 9:30 a.m. until 10:10 p.m. He was consistently read his Miranda rights, which could indicate to a reasonable person that he was in custody on suspicion of criminal activity. The police officers, pursuant to defendant's consent, searched his home and car and confronted him with the fruits of that search. They requested that he submit to a medical examination, and transported him to a local clinic for that purpose. Upon returning to the police station, defendant was placed in a lineup. Although the victim was unable to identify him as her assailant, the defendant was not released but rather was questioned further ...

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