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In Re J.s.





Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Joseph C. Mooney, Judge, presiding.


Respondent, adjudicated a delinquent minor following a hearing, was committed to the Department of Corrections, Juvenile Division. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 37, par. 705-2(1)(a)(5).

He appeals that finding and argues that (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion to quash his warrantless arrest and to suppress his oral and written statements because no probable cause to arrest him had been established by a tip from an anonymous informant whose reliability had not been sufficiently established, and (2) the trial court's denial of his motion to suppress his statement was contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence which showed that he was of Hispanic origin, only 14 years old, lacking comprehension of the English language and not capable of making a voluntary, intelligent and knowing waiver of his Miranda rights.

It is undisputed that respondent was taken into custody on January 21, 1982, by police officers who acted upon information supplied by an informant that respondent was involved with three other youths in the January 11, 1982, stabbing death of a man they sought to rob and that following his arrest he was taken to police headquarters where the police read him his Miranda rights in English; that he acknowledged that he understood them, and that later, the police and the respondent were joined by an assistant State's Attorney and a youth officer who again read him his constitutional rights in English, and that upon further questioning he responded in English stating that he understood all that was read to him and by him and willingly waived those rights by signing a waiver form.

Approximately 13 hours after his arrest, respondent signed a written statement in which he admitted his presence at the murder, but denied that it was he who had actually stabbed the victim.

He was then placed in the custody of the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center on January 22, 1982. The State's motion to permit his prosecution under the criminal laws was denied and he was tried as a juvenile.

At the hearing on respondent's motion to quash his arrest for lack of probable cause, Officer Mike Stepkowicz, who conducted the on-the-scene investigation of the murder, testified that the victim, prior to his death, had told his live-in girlfriend that "kids, four or five" had stabbed him.

Gang Crimes Officer Jack Konior testified that acting upon information from a "reliable" informant, he arrested respondent on suspicion of murder; that his informant who was previously known to him and was one who had supplied him with reliable information on past occasions and whom he had never known to tell him anything that was untrue, informed him that he had heard respondent "boasting" that while accompanied by three other subjects, he had stabbed a white man in Wicker Park. Konior further testified that he received this information personally from his informant and did not pay him anything for the information. Respondent waived cross-examination of Konior.

It was stipulated that (1) the respondent was arrested without an arrest or search warrant in a snack shop at 6:20 p.m. on January 21, 1982, while doing nothing unlawful or unusual, and (2) subsequent to the arrest, oral and written statements were elicited from respondent relative to the case.

The trial court denied the motion to quash the arrest, and ruled that, absent cross-examination by respondent on this issue, there was insufficient evidence to destroy probable cause; and that Officer Konior had properly used previous occasions where the informant had given accurate information to the police, as a basis for his conclusion that the informant's information in the instant case was reliable.

Respondent thereafter moved to suppress his statements made prior to, at the time of, or subsequent to his arrest, contending that he did not knowingly, intelligently, or voluntarily waive his Miranda rights because his limited comprehension of the English language prevented his understanding of what was said to him. Additionally he contended that these statements were made (1) outside the presence of his parents or his attorneys, (2) were physically coerced by the police, and (3) resulted from fatigue, hunger and thirst.

At the hearing on the motion to suppress, arresting officer Detective Michael Herigodt testified that respondent was taken to Area 5 Headquarters where he was placed alone in an interview room and handcuffed to the wall. He further testified that he advised him of his constitutional rights and read the Miranda warnings to him in English; that respondent replied in English, that he understood them and indicated a willingness to speak to him about the incident. Herigodt further testified that subsequent to his interview with respondent, the youth remained alone in this room until an assistant State's Attorney and youth officer arrived.

Assistant State's Attorney Jeff Warnick, Youth Officer Charles Dziak and Detective Herigodt, all testified that Warnick advised the respondent of his constitutional rights, in English, at approximately 2:30 a.m. on the 22nd of January, 1982; and that when asked, respondent again answered, in English, that he understood. Warnick and Dziak further testified that after respondent read his rights aloud and in English from a waiver of rights form, he gave them an oral statement. Dziak also testified that when he arrived for the 2:30 a.m. interview, he provided the respondent with food.

Warnick also testified that he believed Youth Officer Dziak attempted to contact respondent's parents at 1 or 2 a.m. that morning. However, Dziak admitted that he did not ask respondent if he wished a family member present with him at the interview and he did not contact respondent's parents prior to the interview.

Warnick and Dziak testified that they were present, together with Herigodt and a court reporter, at 5:10 a.m. on January 22, 1982, when Warnick again advised the respondent of his rights and that after respondent replied, in English, that he understood, respondent gave to the court reporter a written statement. They further testified they were both satisfied that the respondent knew and understood what he was doing; that neither respondent's written or oral statements were made as a result of any physical or mental coercion by those present, and that the respondent had not been handcuffed while making either of these statements. Warnick, Dziak and Herigodt all testified that respondent appeared to read the transcribed statement, then initialed each page before he finally put his signature to the entire statement. Warnick and Dziak also initialed the statement. The court reporter took a photograph of the respondent at the time he gave his statement, which was available to the trial court for use in its determination of respondent's physical condition when he signed his written statement.

On respondent's behalf, Dr. Alen Ravitz, a psychiatrist, testified that prior to the appearance of a translator on February 9, 1982, he had a clinical interview in English with the respondent, and concluded ...

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