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People v. Wilson





Appeal from the Circuit Court of Lake County; the Hon. Jack Hoogasian, Judge, presiding.


The defendant, Lorenzo Wilson, was charged by information with four counts of murder (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 38, pars. 9-1(a)(1) and (2)), two counts of attempted murder (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 38, par. 8-4(a)) and two counts of armed violence (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 38, par. 33A-1). Following a jury trial in the circuit court of Lake County, he was found not guilty of attempted murder but guilty of murder and voluntary manslaughter. He was sentenced to consecutive terms of natural life on the murder conviction and an extended term of 14 years for the voluntary manslaughter.

Defendant now appeals and raises numerous contentions before this court: (1) that the trial court erred in not suppressing his post-arrest statements; (2) that the court below abused its discretion in denying his request for a continuance of the trial date; (3) that it was reversible error for the State to impeach defendant with a statement upon which no determination of voluntariness had been made; (4) that it was an abuse of discretion for the trial court to find, prior to imposition of the sentence, that defendant went to the scene of the crime with the intent to commit a double murder; (5) that the lower court erred in failing to consider certain mitigating factors in imposing a sentence of natural life; and (6) that it was erroneous for the trial court to impose an extended-term sentence on the voluntary manslaughter conviction.

At the hearing on defendant's motion to suppress the State introduced the following evidence. Zion Police Sergeant Lester Guthrie testified that late on the evening of March 26, 1981, he received a dispatch to be on the lookout for the defendant, a Zion resident, who was wanted by the Waukegan police in connection with a homicide investigation. Guthrie and another police officer, Sylvester Hampton, drove to defendant's apartment and encountered him pulling into the parking lot. He was taken into custody, read his Miranda rights and transported to the Zion police station. No questioning occurred on the way to the station. Upon their arrival, Guthrie again read defendant his rights off a preprinted rights sheet. Defendant then signed the form indicating that he understood all of his rights.

Guthrie next asked him to read a waiver of rights form. He did so but stated that he did not wish to make any statements or answer any questions. Consequently, Guthrie wrote "refused" on the relevant portion of the form and all questioning ceased.

About 30 minutes later, Waukegan Detectives Story and Bullock arrived to take custody of defendant. Guthrie testified that up to that point the defendant had not asked to see an attorney or to make any telephone calls. Guthrie then advised Story and Bullock that defendant had been read his Miranda warnings. He also gave them a copy of the arrest form and the rights sheet marked "refused."

Waukegan Detective Jon Story testified that he and Detective Bullock arrived at the Zion police station at approximately 11:50 p.m. He stated that he received two copies of the preprinted rights sheet and a copy of the arrest report. He said shortly thereafter he and Bullock took custody of defendant and began the drive back to Waukegan. As they were riding, defendant asked him what he was specifically charged with. Story replied, "[O]ne count of murder and three counts of attempted murder," to which the defendant responded, "I thought they was [sic] all dead." Officer Bullock then asked defendant what had occurred at 332 South Avenue. In response, the defendant proceeded to give a lengthy statement incriminating himself in the offense. Once they arrived at the Waukegan police station, defendant was again shown a waiver of rights form. He looked at it for a few minutes but refused to sign anything.

Detective Bullock corroborated Story's testimony. Under cross-examination Bullock could not recall if Sergeant Guthrie told him directly that defendant had been advised of his rights, but he stated that as they were pulling out of the Zion police station, he turned to defendant and asked him if he had been advised of his rights, to which defendant responded that he had.

At the conclusion of the State's evidence, defense counsel requested that its motion to suppress be granted, arguing that the State failed to meet its burden in showing that defendant's statements were made voluntarily. After considering the arguments of counsel heard on January 20, 1982, the court allowed the motion and suppressed the statements.

On April 21, 1982, the State filed a motion for reconsideration of defendant's motion to suppress. On May 28 the court reversed its ruling.

Defense counsel subsequently requested that it be allowed to present its own evidence on the issue of voluntariness, and on the afternoon of May 28, 1982, the court heard the testimony of defendant, Lorenzo Wilson. Wilson corroborated the testimony of Officer Guthrie regarding his arrest on the night of March 26, 1981. He said, however, that during the ride to Waukegan with Detectives Bullock and Story he was never advised of his rights. He then testified that while in the squad car Bullock told him, "off the record," that he should get a "key to the city for what he did," that "those two were assholes" and that he would try to help him if he could. Defendant said Bullock did not specify how he would help him, but stated, "[J]ust tell me what else went on and this won't go on the record or anything. I just want to know for my own personal [use]." The defendant then made several incriminating statements. Later, at the Waukegan police station, Bullock asked him to repeat his statements into a tape recorder, but the defendant refused to say anything more. Defendant said that Bullock then handed him a rights waiver sheet which he only glanced at and which he refused to sign. Under cross-examination, he acknowledged that when he received his Miranda warnings from the Zion police he understood both his right to an attorney and his right to remain silent. He also admitted that he was never threatened or physically abused by any of the police officers.

The court reaffirmed its earlier ruling that defendant's statements were voluntary and admissible. The case was then continued to June 1, 1982, for trial.

On June 1, 1982, defense counsel moved for a continuation of the trial date on grounds that she had been caught by surprise when the court reversed its ruling on the admissibility of defendant's statements only four days before trial. In denying her motion, the court reminded her that she had known since April 21 that the ruling might be reversed, that she had also known she was to be ready for trial on June 1, and that she had had considerable time to prepare her client's insanity defense, a defense which would not be substantially affected by the ruling. Accordingly, after two days of jury selection, the trial commenced on June 3, 1982.

The following evidence was adduced at trial. Two Waukegan police officers testified that on the evening of March 26, 1981, they arrived at a boarding house located at 332 South Avenue in response to a dispatch order. They discovered Arthur Lee Robinson, mortally wounded and unarmed, lying on the front porch. A short time later they found the body of Willie Earl Jones lying on the floor inside a bedroom with his hands and feet bound together with ropes. A rag was stuffed in his mouth and another rag was tied around his neck. Both victims died of bullet wounds.

Mary Armstrong testified that she arrived at the boarding house at approximately 8 p.m. and found defendant talking and shooting up drugs with Robin Hill, Bobby Tate and Willie Earl Jones. About 45 minutes later, as they were sitting in the bedroom, the defendant pulled a gun, held it on Armstrong, Hill and Jones and told Tate to get a rope and tie them up. She said that the defendant then went into the bathroom with Tate to do more drugs and a few minutes later returned and put gags in their mouths. Tate left and did not return. She stated that they were tied up for about an hour and a half while defendant waited and looked out the window. At around 9 p.m. she heard someone at the front door. She related that the defendant ran out into the hallway towards the door and a short time later she heard two or three shots. The defendant then returned to the bedroom, shot at Hill, but missed and went back out to the hallway. Armstrong then heard two or three more shots. Defendant again reappeared and shot at her but missed. She observed that he put two more bullets in his gun, walked over to Willie Earl Jones lying tied up on the bed, and shot him twice at close range. Hill and Armstrong managed to get loose and ran out of the house.

Addison Taylor testified that on the night in question, he and Arthur Lee Robinson stopped by 332 South Avenue around 9:30 p.m. According to the witness, neither of them was armed. He testified that Robinson rang the doorbell. The defendant opened the door and said, "Arthur Lee Robinson, come here motherfucker." Taylor stated that as Robinson moved away from the door, he saw the defendant point a gun at him. Taylor fell to the floor and heard two or three shots. He then looked up to see Robinson lying on the porch and the defendant standing over him with a revolver. He next saw defendant go inside the house, heard another shot, a ...

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