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People v. Gore





Appeal from the Circuit Court of Peoria County; the Hon. Richard E. Eagleton, Judge, presiding.


Rehearing denied August 31, 1983.

Following a bench trial in the circuit court of Peoria County, the defendant, Cornell Gore, was found guilty but mentally ill of the offense of attempted indecent liberties with a child. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 8-4(a).) The defendant was sentenced to a term of four years of probation with the condition that he serve three months in the county jail. He was also ordered to submit to treatment at the Zeller Mental Health Center under a court-approved treatment program. The defendant was ordered to undergo whatever psychiatric treatment the probation department directed.

The facts are briefly summarized on appeal.

On October 19, 1981, the defendant went to the home of Nellie McCall in the Taft Homes, Peoria, Illinois. While there, he removed all his clothing with the intent to engage in sexual intercourse with McCall's six-year-old daughter, Sequana McCall. His attempt to carry out this activity was thwarted by Nellie and Michael Fortune. Subsequently, the defendant, still naked, left the scene.

Officer Raymond Frazelle of the Peoria police department received a dispatch on October 19, 1981, that a man was running nude in the Taft Homes area. As he was patrolling, Frazelle received a second dispatch that the man had been given some clothing. The man was described as wearing a blue shirt, orange pants, and had no shoes. The man was walking south on Adams Street.

The officer observed a man matching the description and walking south on Adams Street. He drove alongside the man, left his car and asked the man to come over to him. The man, identified as the defendant, walked over to Officer Frazelle at which time Frazelle asked the defendant, "What happened back there?" referring to the Taft Homes. The defendant responded, "I was messing with a six year old girl." Frazelle then placed the defendant under arrest, examined him for weapons, and handcuffed the defendant. The officer read the defendant his Miranda rights. The defendant said that he understood. Officer Crowell transported the defendant to the police station.

While he was in a holding cell at the Peoria police station, the defendant appeared to experience visual and auditory hallucinations for a short period of time. However, when this episode was over, he agreed to be interviewed by Officer Martha Minton. The defendant was advised of his Miranda rights for the second time. Debbie Price and Michael Korvanda, counselors with the Peoria Human Services Center, were present during the interview.

The defendant admitted that he tried to engage in sexual intercourse with Sequana McCall but claimed he received permission from Nellie McCall in "double talk." He told Minton that although he realized that what he did was not right and was a serious crime, he felt it was all right because he had permission from Nellie. The defendant mentioned "voodoo" and talked about his brother being involved in the incident.

Pursuant to the State's motion to have the defendant declared unfit to stand trial, the defendant was examined by Dr. Mortimer Beck. The parties stipulated to Dr. Beck's qualifications and his report, which found the defendant unfit to stand trial. The trial court declared the defendant unfit on October 26, 1981, and committed him to Zeller Mental Health Center.

On November 30, 1981, Dr. SoHee Lee of the Zeller Mental Health Center sent the court a letter regarding the defendant's condition. The doctor found that the defendant recovered from a short-time psychotic episode and that the defendant was fit to stand trial. The parties stipulated to this report on January 22, 1982, during a hearing on the fitness issue. Following the hearing, the trial court found the defendant fit to stand trial beyond a reasonable doubt.

The defendant's motion to suppress the statements he made to Officers Frazelle and Minton was denied following a hearing. The court found that the defendant had waived his rights. The cause proceeded to a bench trial and the defendant was found guilty but mentally ill.

In the defendant's first issue on appeal, he claims that the trial court erred when it denied his motion to suppress his statements to the police. He argues that the statement to Officer Frazelle, "I was messing with a six year old girl," was made pursuant to custodial interrogation which was not preceded by Miranda warnings. Therefore, the statement should have been suppressed.

• 1 Custodial interrogation means "questioning initiated by law enforcement officers after a person has been taken into custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom of action in any significant way." (Miranda v. Arizona (1966), 384 U.S. 436, 444, 16 L.Ed.2d 694, 706, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 1612.) A court must look to the circumstances surrounding the questioning and then objectively evaluate whether a reasonable, innocent person would have believed he was in custody. (People v. Savory (1982), 105 Ill. App.3d 1023, 435 N.E.2d 226.) Traditional investigatory functions of the police, such as general on-the-scene questioning in the fact-finding ...

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