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People v. Roundtree





Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Richard L. Samuels, Judge, presiding.


Defendant Willie Roundtree was charged by indictment with possession of a controlled substance containing cocaine with intent to deliver. He waived a jury trial. The court found him guilty and sentenced him to nine years and a fine of $305,970. The court also denied defendant's petition to return his cash bond deposit, which was assigned to his attorney in payment for professional services.

The issues raised on appeal are: (1) whether defendant's oral statement made while under arrest, in custody and without a Miranda warning was properly admitted into evidence; (2) whether the statutory provision requiring that a drug offender pay a fine at least equivalent to the street value of the substance found is a constitutional exercise of the legislature's right to set penalties; (3) whether the statutory fine was properly imposed; (4) whether application of defendant's bond deposit toward payment of the fine was mandated by statute and took precedence over the assignment of the deposit to defense attorney for payment of legal fees; and (5) whether the trial court erred in refusing to permit defendant to use a post-Miranda written statement which he made to the police.

On December 31, 1982, at about 7:50 a.m., State trooper R.A. Martinez testified that he was in a marked squad car that was parked on the right shoulder of the southbound lanes of Interstate Highway 94, monitoring traffic. He heard the screeching of brakes, then noticed that his squad car had been hit from the rear by a white 1971 Cadillac. He radioed his station of the incident and that he was exiting his vehicle. As he walked toward the Cadillac, he heard a gunshot and saw a hole in the windshield. Trooper Martinez saw two men struggling in the front seat. The passenger in the rear seat unlocked the passenger door; Trooper Martinez opened the door and trained his weapon on the men in the front seat, who were struggling over a gun. When the two continued their battle despite the officer's command to drop the weapon, Trooper Martinez returned to his squad car and radioed for assistance.

Trooper Martinez had his weapon in hand and trained on the driver and passenger until assistance arrived. Two off-duty officers from other jurisdictions saw Trooper Martinez as they passed and came to his aid. The driver and passenger then stopped their struggle for the gun.

Defendant was "taken into custody" by the two off-duty officers. Parker, the front seat passenger, followed Trooper Martinez' order to put the weapon on the dashboard and exit as the trooper's gun was still trained on him. The defendant and Parker were placed on the ground, patted down for weapons, and placed into handcuffs. The officers also arrested Cynthia Johnson, the woman who was in the back seat of the car.

After recovering and unloading the gun, Trooper Martinez searched the front and rear passenger areas and found an aluminum suitcase on the rear seat. Trooper Martinez testified that after discovering the suitcase, "I asked, in general, to the three defendants, who owned the suitcase." Defendant Roundtree objected because no proper foundation was laid: he was in custody and no Miranda warnings were given. The court overruled the objection on the grounds that it was asked as part of an investigatory stage rather than a custodial stage. Trooper Martinez testified that defendant said, "It's mine." Again a defense objection was overruled. An examination of the contents of the case revealed laundry plus a scale, weighing tray, silver spoon and a plastic bag of a white, powdery substance, later identified as cocaine.

There was no evidence that a Miranda warning was given at the scene of the collision. The vehicle was impounded, and $2,167 was taken from defendant Roundtree and inventoried. The three defendants were taken to the Calumet City police department.

Trooper Martinez then warned defendant of his constitutional rights at the police station where a written statement was taken from defendant. The court sustained the State's relevancy objection when defendant sought to introduce the statement and cross-examine Trooper Martinez regarding the contents of the statement. Defendant's offer of proof was also denied.

Trooper Martinez also testified that after the collision and after the gunshot, he was not just arresting these people for some traffic violation. He asserted that shooting from inside the Cadillac was also a violation of the law.

Defendant, Parker and Johnson were charged in a single indictment with possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. The trial court acquitted Parker and Johnson, but found defendant guilty as charged.


In Miranda v. Arizona (1966), 384 U.S. 436, 16 L.Ed.2d 694, 86 S.Ct. 1602, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the criminal defendant's privilege against compulsory self-incrimination could be properly protected only if he were warned of the privilege before being subjected to custodial interrogation. Miranda requires that:

"He must be warned prior to any questioning that he has the right to remain silent, that anything he says can be used against him in a court of law, that he has the right to the presence of an attorney, and that if he cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed for him prior to any questioning if ...

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