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People v. Bracy

OPINION FILED DECEMBER 29, 1986.

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

v.

TREMAINE BRACY ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Earl Strayhorn, Judge, presiding.

PRESIDING JUSTICE QUINLAN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

The defendants, Tremaine Bracy and Khalifa Hicks, were charged by indictment with the offenses of murder, armed robbery, home invasion, and residential burglary. A motion for severance was granted, and the defendants were tried separately. Defendant Bracy waived his right to a trial by jury, and, after a bench trial, was found guilty of the offenses charged and sentenced to serve concurrent terms of 40 years for murder, 30 years for armed robbery, 30 years for home invasion, and 15 years for residential burglary. Defendant Hicks was tried simultaneously by a jury and was also found guilty of the offenses charged. He was sentenced to serve concurrent terms of 40 years for murder, 15 years for home invasion, 10 years for armed robbery, and 10 years for residential burglary. Both defendants appealed their convictions. Their cases have been consolidated in this court for purposes of review.

The issues presented for review in this appeal are: (1) whether defendant Bracy's inculpatory statement should have been suppressed as the fruit of an illegal arrest; (2) whether the trial court erred in allowing the State to introduce into evidence the summarized notes of defendant Bracy's confession given to an assistant State's Attorney where the summary was prepared and questions were asked of the defendant after defendant had allegedly invoked his right to counsel; and (3) whether the State's improper comments during the closing rebuttal argument in the Hicks case prejudiced defendant Hicks' right to a fair trial. For the reasons stated below, we affirm the judgment of the trial court in both the Bracy case and in the Hicks case.

Initially, we address defendant Bracy's contention that his inculpatory statement should have been suppressed as the fruit of his illegal arrest. Prior to the commencement of the bench trial, defendant Bracy presented a motion to quash his arrest and suppress his oral statement. The evidence produced at that hearing established the following pertinent facts.

Detective McHugh of the Chicago police department testified that at 9 a.m. on January 2, 1984, he was assigned to investigate the homicide of John Branch. The victim, a blind man, had been stabbed to death in his home at 4425 West Jackson in Chicago at approximately 6 a.m. on January 2, 1984. As part of his investigation into the incident, Detective McHugh interviewed Rochelle Bracy, defendant Bracy's mother, at her home at 11 a.m. on January 3, 1984. Mrs. Bracy informed Detective McHugh that her son Tremaine Bracy, Harriet Scott, and Khalifa Hicks were at her home on January 2, 1984, until 5 a.m., when the three left together to take Harriet Scott home. Rochelle Bracy further told Detective McHugh that during the afternoon of January 2, 1984, Harriet Scott told her that defendant Hicks had killed a blind man on Jackson Street.

At approximately 2 p.m. on January 3, 1984, Detective McHugh interviewed Harriet Scott at police headquarters. Ms. Scott had been brought to the police station for further questioning by other officers assigned to the case. Harriet Scott told Detective McHugh that she, defendant Bracy, and defendant Hicks left the home of Rochelle Bracy at 5 a.m. on January 2, 1984, to go down the street to a vacant apartment. Once at the vacant apartment, defendant Bracy and Harriet Scott engaged in sexual intercourse in a rear room of the apartment while defendant Hicks stayed in the front room. During the time that Ms. Scott and defendant Bracy were in the rear room, they heard noises at the front door. Defendant Bracy got up and left the apartment with defendant Hicks. Several minutes later, defendant Bracy called out to Harriet Scott from the victim's apartment and requested that she bring him his jacket and gloves. Defendants Bracy and Hicks were in the victim's apartment, which was located immediately adjacent to the vacant apartment. Ms. Scott told Detective McHugh that when she entered the victim's apartment, she found him lying on the floor with his hands and feet tied. At that point the victim was still alive. Defendants Bracy and Hicks told Ms. Scott to take the victim's television to her apartment. She complied with their request, and, upon returning to the victim's apartment, she found the victim's stereo sitting near the front door. At defendant Bracy's request, Ms. Scott took the stereo to defendant Bracy's home and left it at the back door. While she was returning to the victim's apartment, she met defendants Bracy and Hicks in the alley and noticed that the two were carrying more of the victim's property. Ms. Scott told Detective McHugh that at approximately 1:30 p.m. on January 2, 1984, defendant Bracy came to her home where he changed his clothes. Ms. Scott said that Bracy told her that he had killed John Branch because he had previously had the defendants (Bracy and Hicks) "beaten up."

Detective McHugh further testified that Ms. Scott consented to a search of her apartment. During the search, Detective McHugh and the other police officers recovered defendant Bracy's clothes, as well as some of the proceeds of the robbery. The police also recovered a guitar case in the alley in back of Rochelle Bracy's home that was subsequently identified as belonging to John Branch.

Several police officers testified that during the course of their investigation into the death of John Branch, they learned that the defendants had tried to rob the victim on a prior occasion. It was also revealed that the defendants believed that in response to their attempt to rob him, the victim had the defendants "beaten up." Although none of the individuals who were interviewed by the police were actual witnesses to the killing of John Branch, nearly everyone to whom the police had spoken believed that the defendants were involved in the murder.

Defendant Bracy was arrested without a warrant by the Chicago police at approximately 12:55 p.m. on January 2, 1984. The record reveals that the defendant was given his Miranda warnings on at least three separate occasions before he was questioned. At approximately 4:30 p.m. on January 3, 1984, Detective McHugh had a conversation with defendant Bracy in which he told the defendant that Harriet Scott was cooperating with the police. Detective McHugh then left the defendant alone and went to talk to Richard Fields, Rochelle Bracy's live-in boyfriend.

Mr. Fields informed Detective McHugh that during the predawn hours of January 2, 1984, defendants Bracy and Hicks were at the apartment Mr. Fields shared with Rochelle Bracy. He said that defendant Hicks had a gun and that defendant Hicks told Mr. Fields that "he wanted to rob someone." Mr. Fields told Detective McHugh that Harriet Scott and defendants Bracy and Hicks left the apartment at approximately 5:30 a.m. Mr. Fields stated that sometime later that morning on January 2, 1984, Ms. Scott and defendants Bracy and Hicks returned to Rochelle Bracy's apartment, and that at that time they had a stereo and a guitar case in their possession.

Detective McHugh testified that after interviewing Mr. Fields he returned to the interrogation room where defendant Bracy was being held. At approximately 7 p.m. on January 3, 1984, defendant Bracy asked if he could use the bathroom in the police station. On his way out of the interrogation room, defendant Bracy saw Harriet Scott, who was also at the police station. He further observed the proceeds of the robbery, as well as his clothes which were recovered from Harriet Scott's apartment, lying on a desk. Upon returning to the interrogation room, Detective McHugh showed defendant Bracy a group of photographs and informed him that Harriet Scott had viewed the same group of photographs and identified defendant Hicks. He also testified that defendant Bracy identified Hicks from the photographs. Detective McHugh then read defendant Bracy his Miranda rights and asked if the defendant would talk to him. The defendant asked Detective McHugh to leave him alone for a few minutes because he needed time to think. Detective McHugh complied with defendant Bracy's request and sometime shortly thereafter the defendant voluntarily knocked on the door and Detective McHugh reentered the interrogation room and again read the defendant his rights. Defendant Bracy told Detective McHugh that he understood his rights. It was during this subsequent questioning that the defendant gave his oral statement.

Detective McHugh also testified that defendant Bracy was not interrogated by any police officers from the time the defendant arrived at the police station at approximately 1 p.m. on January 2, 1984, until he gave his statement at about 7 p.m. on January 3, 1984.

At the conclusion of the arguments on the motion to suppress, the trial court ruled that there was no probable cause to arrest defendant Bracy and, therefore, the arrest was illegal. However, the court found that the defendant's oral statement given to Detective McHugh was admissible because there was sufficient attenuation between the illegal arrest and the defendant's oral statement to remove the taint of the illegal arrest and to allow the statement to be admitted into evidence at the defendant's trial. In its ruling the court relied upon the fact that the time between the arrest and the defendant's inculpatory statement was more than 24 hours, that the police misconduct was not deliberate or flagrant, nor was it engaged in for the purpose of obtaining the defendant's statement. On appeal, as stated previously, defendant Bracy argues that the trial court's ruling was erroneous.

• 1 When a confession is obtained from a defendant through custodial interrogation after an illegal arrest, that confession must be suppressed unless the State can establish that intervening events have broken the causal connection between the illegal arrest and the confession so that the confession is sufficiently an independent act of free will. (Taylor v. Alabama (1982), 457 U.S. 687, 690, 73 L.Ed.2d 314, 319, 102 S.Ct. 2664, 2667; Brown v. Illinois (1975), 422 U.S. 590, 602, 45 L.Ed.2d 416, 426, 95 S.Ct. 2254, 2261.) The United States Supreme Court in Brown v. ...


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