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People v. Wilson





Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. John J. Crowley, Judge, presiding.


Following a joint jury trial, defendant, Jackie Wilson, and his brother, Andrew Wilson, were convicted of two counts of armed robbery and two counts of murder. Defendant was sentenced to concurrent terms of 30 years on the armed robbery convictions and natural life imprisonment for the murders. *fn1 On appeal, he contends that (1) his post-arrest statement should have been suppressed as the involuntary product of mental and physical coercion by the police; (2) he was denied his sixth amendment right to a representative and impartial jury by (a) the State's use of its peremptory challenges to exclude blacks, and (b) the death-qualification of prospective jurors, which resulted in a conviction-prone jury; (3) the trial court erred (a) in refusing to ask on voir dire a supplemental question submitted by defense counsel; (b) denying his motion for a severance, and (c) admitting certain irrelevant and prejudicial evidence; (4) the evidence was insufficient to prove him accountable for the crimes beyond a reasonable doubt; (5) the prosecutor misstated the evidence in closing argument; and (6) mandatory imposition of a natural life sentence was unconstitutional.

The charges arose from the fatal shootings of Chicago police officers William Fahey and Richard O'Brien on February 9, 1982.

Prior to trial, defendant moved to suppress his post-arrest statement as having been the involuntary product of mental and physical coercion by the police. At the hearing thereon, Officers McGuire, Riordan, Nitsche and Kruppel all testified, in substance, that they took custody of defendant from the arresting officers at about 8:30 a.m. on February 14, 1982. He was then handcuffed, advised of his Miranda rights — which he indicated he understood — and transported in a squad car to Area 2 police headquarters (Area 2). Defendant never mentioned that he had an attorney or that he wished to speak to him nor did any of the transporting officers draw their weapons jab, slap, threaten or tell defendant that he had no rights. The only conversation they had with him during transit was to inform him, when he asked, where he was being taken. When they arrived at Area 2, at about 10 a.m., they transferred custody of him to Officers McKenna and O'Hara and did not see him thereafter.

Officers McKenna and O'Hara testified, essentially, that defendant was brought in to Area 2 at about 10 a.m., advised of his Miranda rights and placed in a second-floor office. When asked by McKenna whether he knew why he had been arrested, defendant responded, "because of the two cops who were killed," and, for the next 20 to 25 minutes, voluntarily answered their questions about the shootings. At about 2:45 p.m. he was taken to Area 1 to appear with Andrew in a lineup.

Assistant State's Attorney Lawrence Hyman then testified that he first saw defendant at about 10:30 a.m., and after advising him of his constitutional rights had a brief conversation with him. Defendant was provided with lunch, consisting of a sandwich, potato chips and a soft drink, after which he gave his written statement — at about 11:45 a.m. — in the presence of Officers McKenna and O'Hara and court reporter Michael Hartnett, who typed it, gave it to defendant to review and sign and then took a Polaroid photograph of him.

According to Hyman, defendant did not complaint of any mistreatment by the police nor was there anything about his appearance to suggest that he had been beaten. On cross-examination, Hyman stated that Officers O'Hara and McKenna were present at all times that he spoke with defendant; that he did not ask defendant if he had been beaten and that he knew defendant had an attorney prior to his arrest, but did not recall specifically asking if he wanted to speak to him. At about 5:30 p.m., Hyman also took a statement from defendant's brother, Andrew, who was being held in another office approximately 35 feet away.

Court reporter Michael Hartnett similarly testified that he did not notice any bruises, cuts or marks on defendant when the statement was made or when he took the photograph of him, nor did he hear defendant complain of physical abuse by the police. Hartnett was also present when Andrew made his statement to Hyman several hours later in an office 35 to 40 feet down the hall.

Defendant testified that following his arrest at about 8:30 a.m., in which approximately 20 officers participated, he was handcuffed, placed in a squad car with four officers and driven to the police station. Without advising him of his rights, they immediately began to question him about the shootings and told him that he was "going to say something." When he denied any knowledge thereof, the officer beside him "elbowed" him in the chest five or six times and the officer in the front seat turned and slapped him in the face several times. Upon arriving at Area 2, he was placed in a second-floor room with about 12 plainclothed policemen and Officers McKenna and O'Hara, who ordered him to sit and told him that because it looked as if he were just a victim of circumstances he should "come straight." He requested to speak to his attorney, whose business card he was carrying, but they told him he "didn't need any [expletive deleted] lawyer." When he refused to talk to them because he was afraid, they hit him with a telephone book and threatened that they would continue to do so as long as he lied. They also struck him with a dictionary, poked him in the chest and kicked him. After a few hours, McKenna advised him, for the first time, of his constitutional rights and, again, questioned him about the shootings. Approximately 16 officers were present in the room at this time, and because he heard his brother hollering and furniture being kicked, he agreed to answer their questions, believing that if he refused, he "would be next." They asked him about persons named "Kojak" and "Dee," and when he denied knowing them, they dragged him to another room where "Dee" (Derrick Martin) was being held, then returned him to the office and began beating him again. O'Hara twisted his fingers, stepped on his hands, kicked him in the groin and shoved a cocked revolver in his mouth, asking if that made him nervous, but McKenna warned O'Hara and the other policeman "not to damage the face." They then told him what they wanted him to say to the assistant State's Attorney and threatened that if he did not comply, they would ask the attorney to leave and "start all over again." Presuming that they meant they would resume beating him, he agreed and gave a statement, which he later signed, although he added that his handwritten initials appeared different on each page because his fingers were swollen and he was nervous when he signed it. The police refused to allow him to see Andrew unless he agreed to talk his brother into giving a statement. When he next saw Andrew at the criminal courts building on February 15 he (Andrew) was wearing a big patch over his eye and said he had been beaten, and that although the police took him to the hospital, once there they forced him to refuse any treatment.

On cross-examination, defendant acknowledged that he knew, despite not being advised, what his constitutional rights were and stated that he had attained a 12th grade education. At the time of his statement only the assistant State's Attorney, court reporter Hartnett and Officer McKenna were in the room; the other officers who were present during and had participated in the earlier beatings had "disappeared." When he told Assistant State's Attorney Hyman that he would not sign the typed statement without his attorney present, Hyman left the room, "supposedly" to call the attorney; but while Hyman was gone, O'Hara forced him to sign it without reading it, threatening to break his fingers if he refused and later ordered him to smile for the photograph taken by Hartnett. Defendant reiterated his contention that the statement was unwillingly given as a result of the repeated threats and beatings by the police.

Defense counsel requested, and it was agreed, that where relevant, evidence presented at the hearing on Andrew's motion to suppress be considered for purposes of defendant's motion as well. At that hearing Assistant State's Attorney Hyman, Michael Hartnett, Officers McKenna and O'Hara and several arresting officers testified, essentially, that Andrew was arrested, advised of his rights and brought to Area 2 at about 5:15 a.m. on February 14, 1982 — several hours before defendant's arrest — and almost immediately gave an oral statement in which he admitted shooting the two officers. He was taken to Area 1 at about 4 p.m. to appear in a lineup and then returned to Area 2, at about 5:30 p.m. whereupon he gave a written statement detailing the circumstances of the shooting. Although Andrew incurred an injury above his right eye in a scuffle incident to his arrest, no one ever threatened, beat, burned or electrically shocked him, nor did any of the witnesses see or hear him being beaten or screaming for mercy and help.

Derrick Martin, an acquaintance of defendant and Andrew who was also brought in to Area 2 for questioning on the morning of February 15, testified that he did not hear or see Andrew being beaten, nor was he personally abused by the police while in their custody. On cross-examination, Martin stated that no cases or charges were pending against him and acknowledged that for purposes of protection, he had been living in a hotel and had received about $2,000 from the State's Attorney's office for living expenses.

Andrew Wilson, however, testified that the police began beating him as soon as he arrived at Area 2 and that he was continually threatened, beaten, kicked, electrically shocked and, finally, handcuffed over a hot radiator throughout which he screamed and pleaded for mercy. Eventually, he submitted to their demands and gave them the statement they wanted. Later that night, two police officers took him to the hospital, but when the doctor left the room, they threatened him and ordered him to refuse medical attention. He obeyed and was thereafter discharged without receiving treatment.

Doris Miller, a neighbor of Andrew and defendant, testified that while in custody at Area 2 — having been arrested as an accomplice to these murders — she heard Andrew screaming for mercy and also saw him, as she passed the room in which he was being held, naked from the waist up and handcuffed to a windowsill.

Dr. Geoffrey Korn testified that he was on duty in the emergency room the night Andrew was brought in, and that a visual examination of him disclosed multiple bruises and abrasions — though most were superficial — and a burn on his thigh. He did not treat Andrew, however, because the officers accompanying him had their weapons drawn. He explained that to them and left the treating room; when he returned, Andrew refused treatment, despite having earlier signed a consent form therefor, and was discharged.

Patricia Reynolds, an emergency room nurse, testified that she saw a laceration and blood on Andrew's forehead, scratches on his chest and a burn on his thigh. She heard one of the officers who brought him in say, "If this guy knew what was good for him, he'd refuse treatment." When she asked Andrew if he wished to be treated, he shook his head, indicating no, but when the officers looked away, he nodded his head, indicating that he did and then ...

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