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12/07/87 In Re J.H.

December 7, 1987


Before leaving the station at 7 p.m., Ms. Humphrey spoke to someone several times about taking defendant home. Initially, she was told that he could not go because he had to wait for the arrival of an assistant State's Attorney. Later, she was told he could not leave because he had to be in court the next day to give the statement he had given the authorities, but he would be home "tomorrow." Ms. Humphrey did not call an attorney since she "didn't need a lawyer, it wasn't nothing he [defendant] had done."


Plaintiff-Appellant, v.

J.H., a Minor, Defendant-Appellee)

518 N.E.2d 249, 164 Ill. App. 3d 718, 115 Ill. Dec. 724 1987.IL.1798

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Sophia H. Hall, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE BUCKLEY delivered the opinion of the court. O'CONNOR, J., concurs. JUSTICE CAMPBELL, Dissenting.


The State appeals from an order of the circuit court of Cook County dismissing the grand jury indictment against defendant on the ground it was obtained as a result of prosecutorial misconduct. For the following reasons, we reverse.

The record reveals that on August 18, 1984, at approximately 3 a.m., defendant J.H., age 15, was at the Roosevelt Road subway station on 1200 South State Street in Chicago, Illinois. Defendant had just come from a party at an establishment called the "Candy Store" at 13th and Michigan. Several of defendant's friends, Louis Marshall, Gerard Cooper, Vincent Stepter, Brian Hoard, and three individuals known as Milfred, Ant, and Curry were also at the station when a southbound train arrived. Three people, one of whom was Frederick Harris, stepped off the train and were heading toward the stairway when Gerard Cooper approached Harris. The two shook hands, spoke a few words, and then Cooper yelled, "[We] got us some." Cooper proceeded to strike Harris in the head, and after doing so, he, defendant, and several of the other youths began chasing Harris and his two companions. Harris' friends ran up the stairs in the station, but Harris continued running down the platform with Cooper and defendant in pursuit.

When Harris reached the end of the platform and attempted to climb onto the tracks, Cooper hit Harris in the head again and kicked him in the back. Consequently, Harris fell on the third rail of the tracks, where he was electrocuted and subsequently run over by an oncoming train. Shortly thereafter, the police arrived and a murder investigation ensued.

The following facts were disclosed at the hearing on defendant's motion to dismiss the indictment. On two separate occasions on August 19, the day after the incident, police officers went to the apartment of defendant's mother, Barbara Humphrey. Ms. Humphrey testified that on their first visit, the officers, whose names she did not know, told her they wanted to question defendant about some "video games" and she informed them that he did not reside with her. When different officers, whom Ms. Humphrey could only describe as white males in plain clothes, appeared later that evening, she repeated that defendant no longer lived with her, but lived with his sister and legal guardian, Torra Humphrey. Ms. Humphrey further testified that the officers assured her, "It was nothing . . . to get alarmed about, they just wanted to ask him a few questions." Then, the officers performed a consensual search of her apartment.

During this second visit, the police officers encountered Gad Israel, defendant's father, who testified that the officers told him they wanted defendant "for something that happened downtown." They also told Israel that "[they] wanted him [defendant] to be a witness about something," but did not mention what that "something" was. Israel also could only describe these officers as white males in plain clothes.

The following morning, defendant, his mother, and his father went to police headquarters at 51st Street and Wentworth Avenue. According to Israel, after telling one of the officers that he had to go to work, he was told that he could "go ahead on," because they would be at the station all day. The officer also told Israel that the police wanted to question defendant as a "witness" regarding "an incident at the el." Israel left the station at around noon and went to work.

Ms. Humphrey stated that she remained at the station, and at about 1:30 p.m., she, along with defendant, had a conversation with a policeman, a youth officer, and an assistant State's Attorney whose names she could not remember. They told her that they only wanted to talk to defendant as a witness to a murder at the subway, and that afterward, he could go home. Ms. Humphrey stated that defendant was not under arrest at that time, and that she told the three men "it would be okay" for her son to testify before the grand jury.

Clifford Clark, defendant's counselor from the Unified Delinquency Intervention Services for the Juvenile Court, testified that he went to the police station in the early afternoon on August 20, at the request of defendant's mother. A police officer told Clark that defendant was there "only for some questioning." At 3 p.m., Clark spoke to defendant in the presence of a female youth officer and two detectives, and then he spoke to defendant alone. After their conversation, Clark waited an hour until he spoke to a "sheriff" about defendant's release, but according to Clark, the sheriff "kept putting . . . [him] off." Prior to Clark's leaving the station at 4 or 4:30 p.m., the same officer told him that defendant would be released "as soon as they finished processing." Clark could not recall the name of the officer to whom he had spoken.

The following afternoon, August 21, Clark went to the criminal courts building at 26th and California. When he arrived, he saw the defendant alone in a hallway outside the grand jury room, not handcuffed, and acting "as if he'd been playing basketball." Clark stated that while at the courthouse, he was approached by two people. The first individual, whom Clark had never seen before, inquired as to Clark's relationship with defendant. The second unidentified person told Clark that defendant was at the courthouse for questioning and stated that "somebody" would take defendant home.

Torra Humphrey, defendant's sister and legal guardian, testified that she too went to the criminal courts building on August 21 at 9:30 a.m. Upon her arrival, she observed defendant with another young boy in the snack shop accompanied by a person whom she believed to be a police officer. She could not recall if the man was black or white. The man told her that defendant had to make a statement and afterward would be ready to go home. The four then left the snack shop and went upstairs to the grand jury room.

Torra further testified that at 2 p.m., she, defendant, and Clark had a Discussion with an assistant State's Attorney during which the attorney told defendant "to tell him his story" and he would help him. The attorney also told him that after defendant told his story, he could leave. Torra left the courthouse at approximately 2:30 p.m. to go to work.

James Epstein, assistant public defender and counsel for Gerard Cooper, testified on behalf of the State that he interviewed defendant at 11 a.m. on August 21 for about 10 to 15 minutes. Clark and Assistant Public Defender Tim Ackerman were also present. Epstein introduced himself to defendant and Clark, showed them his identification card, and told them he was Gerard Cooper's attorney. Defendant told Epstein that he did not have a lawyer, that he was merely a witness, and that he would be going home after testifying before the grand jury. Defendant proceeded to describe the events of August 18 at the subway station. He never mentioned that he participated in the chase and stated that he tried to help the victim off of the tracks.

Assistant State's Attorney John Romano testified that he received a call on August 21, 1984, concerning the Harris murder, and reported to the courthouse at 26th and California. When he arrived, he discussed the case for 30 to 45 minutes with two detectives and read the police reports. He learned that Gerard Cooper was in custody and the only individual charged in the case. Romano proceeded to interview five witnesses, including defendant.

Prior to interviewing defendant, the detectives informed Romano that defendant had been on the "el" platform at the time of the murder. Defendant had told police and another assistant State's Attorney the previous day that he was present when the incident occurred, but for the most part, he observed it from a bench. Defendant did not mention that he chased the victim.

Romano testified that he spoke to defendant at approximately 1 p.m. with two detectives present. After asking some preliminary questions, Romano gave defendant Miranda warnings as to his rights, which defendant waived. According to Romano, defendant told basically the same story as he had told the police and the other assistant State's Attorney. Romano then told defendant that the other witnesses had related a different story than what defendant had described, and admonished him to tell the truth before testifying in front of the grand jury. As a result, defendant gave a different version of what happened on August 18, which was substantially the same as his testimony before the grand jury.

Defendant testified before the grand jury at 2 p.m. that same afternoon. Prior to being sworn in, Romano represented the purpose of the proceeding to the grand jury as a "John Doe" for information only investigation into the murder of Frederick Harris. He asked the jury "to pay close attention to the ...

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