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In Re T.s.





Appeal from the Circuit Court of McLean County; the Hon. William D. DeCardy, Judge, presiding.


A petition for adjudication of wardship was filed in the circuit court of McLean County alleging that minor respondent, T.S., had committed the offense of arson (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 20-1). Thereafter, respondent filed a motion to suppress statements he had made to a police officer during an interrogation. The motion was denied after a hearing. Following the subsequent adjudicatory and dispositional hearings, respondent was found to be delinquent, adjudicated a ward of the court, and placed on probation for a period of 18 months. Respondent now appeals the adjudication of delinquency. On appeal, respondent contends that the trial court's finding that respondent's warned written statement was given voluntarily is against the manifest weight of the evidence. For the reasons that follow, we reverse and remand.

On October 23, 1985, a petition for adjudication of wardship was filed in the circuit court of McLean County alleging that respondent had committed the offense of arson (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 20-1) by setting fire to a trailer owned by Mary Sigler. On December 2, 1985, respondent filed a motion to suppress statements he made to Detective Mark Bailey during an interrogation on October 14, 1985. The motion alleged that the statements were made under threat and duress and, therefore, were given involuntarily.

On December 9, 1985, a hearing was held on the motion to suppress. First to testify was the interrogator, Detective Mark Bailey, from the McLean County sheriff's department. On direct examination, Bailey testified that on October 14, 1985, he proceeded to respondent's residence. Bailey arrived at the residence at 10:30 a.m., and both respondent and his mother were home. Bailey had a discussion with respondent's mother and then "advised [respondent] that [he] talked to his mother and wanted to talk to [respondent] up at the Sheriff's office * * * [regarding a] fire that had happened a couple days before." Thereafter, Bailey transported respondent, unaccompanied by his mother, to the sheriff's station in his squad car. They arrived at the station at approximately 10:45 a.m. and proceeded to Bailey's office. Only Bailey and respondent were present in the office during the interrogation that followed.

Bailey further testified that he first informed respondent that he wanted to get some questions answered and that respondent "was not under arrest at this time, and that he was free to terminate the visit at any time." Bailey stated that he then told respondent "that certain pieces of evidence had been sent to the crime lab which would be able to match him to the fire." Respondent replied that "he wasn't involved" in the incident. Next, Bailey informed respondent "[t]hat a video tape had been made by a Department of Drug Enforcement [agent] and had [respondent] on video tape entering and exiting the trailer." Respondent replied that "it wasn't him." Bailey then informed respondent "that the tape itself, the video tape, did not show [respondent] starting the fire but it did show him entering the trailer and leaving and there must be some reason if [respondent] didn't start the fire why he was in the trailer." Respondent then stated that "he had gone into the trailer but he had just gone to look around; he didn't start the fire." Bailey testified that he and respondent then "talked for a few minutes and shortly thereafter [respondent] made the statement that he had in fact started the fire." It was approximately 11:20 a.m. at this time. Next, Bailey and respondent "went through step by step of how the fire was started, how [respondent] entered the trailer, what he did next [and], where the liquid that he used to start the fire was located." Bailey then asked respondent to draw a "map or a lay-out" of the trailer.

Bailey testified that he next asked respondent if he would "submit to a typed voluntary statement regarding the facts of the fire." Respondent "said that he would." At that point, Bailey gave respondent "what's known as page one of the statement form, asked him to read this as [Bailey] read it out loud, telling what [respondent's] rights were regarding the statement." Afterward, Bailey asked respondent if he understood everything and respondent stated that he did. Subsequent to this, the written statement was prepared, read and reviewed by respondent, and signed by Bailey, respondent, and Officer Bob Lilienthal, who acted as a witness. The written statement was completed at approximately 12:20 p.m. Afterward, Bailey took respondent to the county jail where he was photographed, fingerprinted, and thereafter released.

On cross-examination, Bailey admitted that he "had a video tape but nothing depicting what [he had] said." Bailey believed that respondent "may have" cried during the interview. Bailey acknowledged that he had a large key, but did not recall taking it out of his pocket and placing it on his desk. Further, Bailey denied telling respondent that he would put him in jail if he did not tell the truth. Bailey stated that he informed respondent "that if he did not cooperate [Bailey] would get ahold of the State's Attorney's office and give them the information regarding the evidence and the video tape and that they would have to make the determination at that time." Bailey admitted that he did not advise respondent of his Miranda rights until they started the written statement. Further, Bailey acknowledged that the respondent's written statement was "merely reiteration of [the] interview" that he had with respondent. Finally, on redirect Bailey testified that he informed respondent:

"[T]hat with his cooperation if [Bailey] got it at [that] time that [respondent] would not be arrested. He would just be taken up to the jail and booked and released. If that cooperation was not given regarding this, information would be forwarded to the State's Attorney."

Respondent testified that he was 15 years of age on October 14, 1985. Respondent further testified that during the interrogation, Bailey informed him that he had some evidence that respondent started the fire. Next, Bailey informed respondent, with a videotape in his possession, that "he had a video tape of [respondent] doing it and said he had witnesses that [saw respondent] go in the trailer." Respondent stated that Bailey then "took a big key out of his desk drawer and said he talked to the State's Attorney and he said if [he] didn't tell the truth that [Bailey] was going to lock [him] up and take [him] to jail." Respondent further stated that after denying involvement in the fire that Bailey "kept pressing" him, "saying that [respondent] did start the fire after every time [respondent] said [he] didn't." Respondent then admitted that he started the fire, so Bailey would "quit bothering [him] about it," and because he "didn't want to go to jail." Finally, when asked whether he believed he could leave Bailey's office at any time during the interrogation, he answered, "[n]o, not really."

At the conclusion of the suppression hearing, the trial court denied defendant's motion, stating:

"THE COURT: * * * I think the Court will resolve generally in favor of the State, but in taking that into account, necessarily in any police questioning there is necessarily something coercive which would impinge upon the mind of he who is being questioned. * * * [H]owever, neither the coercion or the coaxing would have given rise to the kinds of duress which would negate the voluntariness of the statement in question * * *."

At the January 14, 1986, adjudicatory hearing, evidence was presented that an unoccupied and unlocked mobile home owned by Mary Sigler was damaged by fire on October 4, 1985. Officer Bailey testified concerning the minor's written admission, and only the minor's written statement was introduced into evidence. Officer Bailey stated that the minor had not been given the Miranda warnings until immediately prior to taking the written statement.

Respondent, testifying on his own behalf, denied any involvement in the fire. Respondent further testified that on the evening of the fire, he was at the Whites' residence. When asked why he told Detective Bailey, during the interrogation, that he had started the fire, respondent stated "[b]ecause he said that if I didn't admit to it that the State's Attorney or the District, I'm not sure which, and that he had talked to Judge Witte and said I was going to jail." Respondent also called several witnesses, one of whom was Brian White. White testified that he and respondent were at White's mother's trailer the evening of the fire. In short, White stated that on that evening, respondent was never out of his sight from 8:30 p.m. to approximately 10 p.m., at which time he and respondent heard fire trucks come into the trailer park. White further stated that upon hearing the sirens, he and respondent went outside to see what was happening.

At the conclusion of the adjudicatory hearing, the trial court found that the allegations of the State's petition were proved beyond a reasonable doubt, found respondent to be a delinquent minor, and set the cause for disposition. Following the dispositional hearing, respondent was adjudicated a ward of the court ...

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