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People v. Warner

OPINION FILED JUNE 26, 1986.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

CHARLES WARNER, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Thomas A. JUSTICE MCMORROW DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied August 19, 1986.

Following a jury trial, defendant, Charles Warner, was convicted of murder and sentenced to 200 to 500 years' imprisonment. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 38, pars. 9-1(a)(1), 1005-8-1(b)(1), 1005-8-1(c)(1).) On appeal, defendant argues that the trial court committed reversible error in its denial of defendant's motion to suppress an oral inculpatory statement he made to Chicago authorities during custodial interrogation. Defendant claims that his waiver of counsel during questioning initiated in Chicago by Chicago authorities was invalid as a matter of law because it violated his right to remain silent and to speak to an attorney. Defendant's claim is based on the ground that he had requested counsel during prior custodial interrogation in Florida by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Defendant's return to Illinois from Florida resulted from his voluntary, consensual waiver of his right to an extradition hearing in Florida following consultation with counsel in Florida. Defendant also contends that the trial court's sentence amounted to an abuse of discretion.

For the reasons set forth more fully below, we conclude that the defendant's waiver of his right to counsel in Chicago was not involuntary per se; that his interrogation by Chicago authorities did not violate his right to counsel; that any assumed error in the admission of the inculpatory statement made by defendant during his interrogation in Chicago was harmless; and that the trial court's sentence did not constitute an abuse of discretion.

BACKGROUND

Defendant was prosecuted for the July 1977 murder of Christanna White in Chicago. White's body was found in defendant's apartment in the city of Chicago when an officer of the Chicago police department investigated the apartment because of odors that were emanating from the residence. Defendant did not dispute at trial that he had killed White. Instead he argued that his conduct amounted either to self-defense or voluntary manslaughter.

Evidence produced at trial established that on the evening of July 8, 1977, defendant and White were seen together at a cocktail lounge located across the street from defendant's apartment. Defendant and White were served quite a bit of liquor and, after three hours, left the lounge together.

White's body was subsequently discovered in defendant's apartment on July 11 by an officer of the Chicago police department. She was unclothed, lying face up on a mattress, and was surrounded by considerable blood. Eleven stab wounds had been inflicted to her chest and abdominal regions. Her body had been mutilated and dismembered. There was no visible sign of a struggle in the apartment. After the officers removed her body from the apartment, they found a knife under the mattress on which White's body was lying. The knife found under the mattress had been given to defendant by his employer for use in the performance of his janitorial duties, and was usually stored on a shelf in the employer's shipping and receiving department.

On the morning of July 15, 1977, defendant visited his place of employment to obtain his pay check and return a loan which he had received from his immediate supervisor, Wyatt Akin. During a brief conversation, Akin pointed to a newspaper article which reported White's death and asked defendant if he had done "this," to which defendant replied, "Yes, I did." When Akin expressed disbelief, defendant told Akins that he and White had both been drunk, that she was to engage in sexual acts with defendant for money, and after a disagreement, she tried to take some money from him and had threatened to kill him if he did not comply with her demand for more money than originally agreed. Defendant stated that he had taken a knife away from her and killed her. Defendant agreed with Akin that he should surrender himself to the police. After defendant left the premises, Akin noticed that the knife which had been used by the defendant in connection with his janitorial duties was missing.

Defendant did not surrender to police, but instead went to Miami, Florida, where he obtained employment. He was subsequently located there in 1982 by officers of the Chicago police department, who notified the FBI that defendant was in Miami and informed the Miami police department of the existence of a Chicago warrant for defendant's arrest in connection with the White homicide.

On July 14, 1982, special agents of the Miami office of the FBI arrested defendant at his place of employment in Miami, where he had been working for four years. Defendant was advised of his Miranda rights and taken to the FBI's Miami office for processing. Defendant then told the agents "that he wished to speak to a lawyer prior to answering any questions" and the agents immediately refrained from asking any questions. No formal interview of defendant was ever conducted by the FBI agents. Defendant was turned over to the Florida authorities, who detained him in a Florida prison. The FBI agents did not notify the Chicago police department of defendant's arrest. One of the agents did prepare a 302 report (an interview form used by the FBI to summarize its contact with individuals) which he sent to the Chicago office of the FBI, but did not disseminate this report, the contents of which are not of record, to any other individual or agency.

Subsequent events which transpired in Miami following defendant's arrest by the FBI in July 1982 and preceding his return to Chicago in October 1982 are not set forth in the record in detail. The record does disclose, however, according to defendant's motion to suppress his confession, "[t]hat he was arrested in Florida on the warrant issued in the within cause and thereafter, after appointment of counsel, waived extradition."

On October 22, 1982, Detectives Liberty and Jonda of the Chicago police department flew to Miami to return the defendant to Illinois. At the Dade County Correctional Facility in Miami, the Chicago officers received transmittal papers from jail officials. These documents did not include any report prepared by the FBI. Defendant was handcuffed and given his Miranda rights. He did not indicate that he wished to consult with an attorney. The trial court found, following the suppression hearing, that no interrogation of defendant occurred during the flight from Miami to Chicago. This factual determination is not disputed by defendant in this appeal.

After the flight from Miami to Chicago, defendant was transported to a police station where he was placed in an interrogation room. That evening, Barry Pechter, an assistant State's Attorney of Cook County, came to the room to speak with defendant. Pechter was aware that defendant had been brought back from Florida, but did not know which agency had effectuated the arrest and had not spoken to the FBI or any Florida authorities before speaking to defendant. In the presence of Chicago police officers, Pechter introduced himself to defendant and advised him that although he was an attorney, he was not defendant's attorney, but rather was an assistant State's Attorney working with the police in their investigation of the stabbing of White. Pechter advised defendant of his Miranda rights. After each right was communicated, defendant acknowledged that he understood the right. Defendant then agreed to speak with Pechter.

Defendant told Pechter that he and White had returned to his apartment after meeting at a cocktail lounge. After drinking liquor in his apartment, White agree to have sexual relations with defendant in exchange for defendant's paying her $30. Subsequently White demanded more money; when defendant refused, White picked up a $20 bill that was on a coffee table and inserted it into her body. She refused to return the money, threatening him with "gang violence." Defendant became angry, took a knife on the coffee table, and stabbed White once in the chest. Thinking ...


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