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People v. Skozen





Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Robert C. Collins, Judge, presiding.


Defendant Robert Skozen was indicted by a grand jury and charged with two counts of murder and one count of armed robbery. After a bench trial, he was convicted of murder and sentenced to 25 years' imprisonment.

On the night of Friday, January 14, 1983, Detective Chris Grogman was assigned to investigate the discovery of human remains at 1437 West Dickens in Chicago. Grogman discovered an upper torso, cut at the navel, with the arms and head removed. The torso was clothed in a shirt and tie. Grogman noticed a hole in the chest area around the heart, and a medical examination performed later showed that the cause of death was a .38 caliber gunshot wound. Grogman also saw a business card in the shirt pocket. On its face was written: "I.M.A.C. Corporation, Gears, Splines, and Gear Racks, 431 West BlueRidge, Orange, California 92665, Area Code 714/974-8780, George Malloy." On the back, a telephone number was written. A check of the number disclosed that it was assigned to the Atlas Gear Company, which was owned by defendant.

Detective Thomas Sappanos, assigned to Area Six Violent Crimes, joined the investigation. Sappanos learned that a George Malloy had flown in from California on Tuesday, January 11, and had checked into the O'Hare Hilton. A check of the room showed no evidence that Malloy had slept there.

Further investigation revealed that a Reverend James Jackson of Christ Church, Des Plaines, a family friend, had been contacted by Mrs. Malloy's sister on Wednesday, January 12, about Malloy's disappearance. Jackson and a friend had visited the defendant at Atlas Gear on Thursday. Defendant told them that he had not seen Malloy recently but that he had done business with Malloy before. On Friday, Jackson filed a missing person's report, and it was later that day when the torso was found.

Early on Sunday morning, January 16, Sappanos called Malloy's wife in California. She informed him that Malloy had flown to Chicago on Tuesday and did not return on Wednesday as scheduled. He had arranged for defendant to pick him up from the airport. The sole purpose of Malloy's trip was to resolve the balance of money that he allegedly owed for some machinery ordered from defendant. Defendant and Malloy had been doing business since the previous October, and Malloy had sent defendant a check for $30,000. Malloy had not received his order, and defendant had demanded another $30,000.

Mrs. Malloy also told Sappanos that after her husband failed to call her upon arrival, as was his custom, she and her son tried to call Malloy at his hotel throughout the night. The next morning, she called defendant's factory. She spoke to someone named "Bob," presumably defendant, who told her that he had not seen Malloy and that he did not have an appointment with him. Bob also asked if Malloy had brought a check with him because an additional $30,000 was owed for certain machinery.

Based on this evidence, Sappanos filed a complaint for a search warrant on Sunday morning, January 16, 1983. The complaint sought permission to search the Atlas Gear Company and to seize, among other things, body parts of George Malloy and any property belonging to him, tools used for dismemberment, a .38-caliber firearm, and certain business records of Atlas.

Sappanos and Detective Tom Keane executed the warrant at Atlas Gear at about 8:30 a.m. Inside the building, they saw parallel drag marks on the floor that led to a storage room. There, Sappanos saw a mattress and box spring covered with blood and something that looked like hacking marks on the vinyl floor. Sappanos found a pair of shoes, red oxford loafers, and a .38-caliber shell casing. Blood and human tissue were found in a large industrial washroom. Sappanos called Mrs. Malloy again, and she described the shoes that her husband was wearing when she saw him last. Her description matched the shoes that Sappanos found.

In the meantime, Sergeant Francis O'Connor, who headed the investigation, tried to contact defendant to inform him of the search. When he was unable to do so, O'Connor called defendant's father and brother. At about 10 a.m., O'Connor renewed his attempts to locate defendant and sent two detectives to defendant's residence. The detectives entered the residence through the back door, saw defendant lying on a sofa watching television, and informed him that they wanted him to accompany them to the factory.

The testimony regarding this incident differs. Defendant testified, at the suppression hearing, that the police entered with guns drawn, told him that he was under arrest, handcuffed him, and forcibly took him to his factory. In contrast, Detective Robert Elmore, who was at the scene, testified that he did not place defendant under arrest, did not handcuff or search him, and that defendant accompanied them voluntarily. Elmore and his partner took defendant to Atlas Gear, where O'Connor asked the defendant to go with him to Area Six Headquarters.

They arrived at about 11 a.m. and proceeded to an interrogation room. Sergeant O'Connor advised defendant of his Miranda rights and questioned him for about 45 minutes. According to O'Connor, defendant voluntarily signed a consent to search form at about noon. The consent allowed the police to search his residence without a warrant. Officer Richard Cauble, however, testified that defendant signed the consent form at about 12:15 p.m.

In the meantime, defendant's brother called defense attorney Edward Genson. Genson called an associate, John DeLeon, and told him to see defendant at Area Six Headquarters. DeLeon arrived about noon and asked to see defendant at about 12:07 p.m. O'Connor, who was informed that DeLeon wanted to see defendant, told DeLeon that defendant had not requested an attorney and did not want one. O'Connor informed defendant of DeLeon's presence, but defendant responded, "I don't need a lawyer." DeLeon, however, insisted on seeing defendant, and O'Connor took DeLeon to see the defendant at about 12:35 p.m., some 28 minutes after DeLeon's initial request. Defendant told DeLeon that he did not need a lawyer, a statement that DeLeon denied.

DeLeon spoke with defendant alone for about five minutes and advised him of his rights. DeLeon then asked a police officer if defendant was free to go home. Sergeant O'Connor testified that defendant was free to leave; DeLeon contradicted that.

Defendant was formally arrested some time after 2:30 p.m. At about 3 p.m., the police requested that defendant remove his clothing for examination because it was splattered with blood. DeLeon advised defendant not to cooperate. Defendant, however, disregarded DeLeon's advice, voluntarily removed his clothing, and gave it to the police. The police photographed defendant and informed DeLeon that defendant was to be held overnight.

When DeLeon returned the next morning, he noticed that defendant was bruised. Defendant told him the following: He was handcuffed to a ring on the wall while he was being interrogated. After he refused to sign a statement, the police beat him on his hands, legs, and arms. The police also applied electric cattle prods to his genitals and beat him with blackjacks. The entire ordeal lasted seven or eight hours, and defendant was left handcuffed to the wall until morning.

DeLeon photographed defendant's injuries and asked that defendant be taken to the hospital. Defendant was admitted to Ravenswood Hospital and stayed four or five days. Medical personnel testified by stipulation that they noticed a large bruise on defendant's back, but there was no evidence to show what caused the bruise or when it began.

On Monday, January 17, 1983, a second search warrant was issued for Atlas Gear Company. The complaint was filed again by Detective Sappanos, who requested permission to seize digging tools, a section of flooring, and Atlas' financial records.

A month later, on February 17, 1983, some body parts were found in rural Michigan. Chief of Police Rick Winans of the Covert Township police department, Van Buren, Michigan, testified that he discovered the remains under some trash that had been dumped on his department's firing range. Winans and another officer discovered the lower half of a torso, a left hand, and a head, along with some machine gears. Among the trash was a Chicago Tribune newspaper with handwriting on it. The handwriting matched ...

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