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07/21/88 the People of the State of v. Mark Christomos

July 21, 1988





527 N.E.2d 41, 172 Ill. App. 3d 585, 122 Ill. Dec. 669 1988.IL.1131

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Lake County; the Hon. William D. Block, Judge, presiding.


PRESIDING JUSTICE LINDBERG delivered the opinion of the court. WOODWARD and UNVERZAGT, JJ., concur.


The State, which filed a certificate of impairment, appeals from an order of the circuit court of Lake County that suppressed defendant's statements and quashed his arrest for his wife's murder. On appeal, the State contends that the defendant, Mark Christomos, was not in custody when he requested a lawyer and his statements were voluntary in nature. We affirm.

The following pertinent facts were adduced at the suppression hearings. Sergeant Holderbaum testified for the State that the North Chicago police department dispatched him to investigate a personal injury accident near the Ron Ric Motel in the early morning of October 26, 1986. Holderbaum observed defendant walking through a parking lot with his head bleeding. According to Holderbaum, he stopped defendant and offered to assist him. Holderbaum questioned defendant regarding the cause of his injuries and learned that defendant had fought with his wife. Defendant indicated that his wife was hurt.

Holderbaum and defendant found defendant's wife, the victim, in the driveway of the motel bleeding from her ear with blood under her head. Defendant held his wife and stated that he and his wife were jumped by two men. Holderbaum telephoned a rescue squad and technician. When the paramedics arrived, defendant became very upset and interfered with the paramedics until the police restrained him.

Officer Newby, who later arrived at the scene, transported defendant handcuffed in a police car to a hospital for treatment of his nose. Meanwhile, his wife was in critical condition in another hospital. Newby testified that, because defendant was upset to the point of being unruly, Newby handcuffed defendant. Newby considered defendant a victim of a crime, not a suspect, and therefore did not arrest defendant.

Once at the hospital, Newby uncuffed defendant, but defendant remained unruly, screamed about his wife, and asked, "[Where's] my lawyer?" Dr. O'Leary testified that the defendant repeatedly screamed questions regarding his wife's condition. Defendant was intoxicated and suffered from a nasal fracture and lacerations. Dr. O'Leary also heard defendant yelling from a back room of the hospital, while he was awaiting treatment, that he wanted a lawyer, his rights, and the opportunity to use the telephone.

According to Dr. O'Leary, when defendant became overly disruptive, he ordered defendant to be restrained in a gurney. The police did not question defendant while he was restrained. However, a police officer requested permission to wait at the hospital until defendant was medically cleared in order to obtain a statement.

Newby testified that after defendant received medical attention, defendant calmed down and requested information on his wife's condition. Newby told defendant that he would have to go to the police station where the authorities would be able to answer his questions. Newby, however, admitted at the hearing that another officer may have told him to bring defendant to the station for questions. Newby denied transporting defendant to the station in handcuffs. The parties entered a stipulation which revealed that Detective Fermaint spoke with Newby while at the hospital and instructed him to bring defendant to the police station for a statement. Fermaint considered defendant a murder suspect and wanted to talk to him.

Defendant's father, Nicholas Christomos, testified for the defense that he received two telephone calls from defendant in the early morning of October 26, 1986. Defendant's father initially learned that two men attacked defendant and his wife and that the wife was hospitalized in critical condition. Defendant indicated on the telephone that he was at the police station, and the police wanted him to issue a statement before they would allow him to visit his wife. Defendant was slurring his words and incoherent.

Approximately 15 minutes later, defendant telephoned his father a second time indicating that he wanted to be with his wife, but he could not go to the hospital because the police wanted a statement. Defendant's father asked him if the police had arrested him. Defendant asked police if he was under arrest, and the officers responded ...

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