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09/14/88 the People of the State of v. James A. Littleton

September 14, 1988





529 N.E.2d 700, 175 Ill. App. 3d 105, 124 Ill. Dec. 719 1988.IL.1376

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Thomas R. Fitzgerald, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE RIZZI delivered the opinion of the court. McNAMARA and FREEMAN, JJ., concur.


Defendant, James Littleton, was convicted of murder and armed robbery and sentenced to concurrent terms of 28 years for murder and 15 years for armed robbery. On appeal, defendant argues that (1) the trial court erred in denying defendant's pretrial motion to suppress his statements and (2) his detention for over 30 hours without a judicial finding of probable cause was unconstitutional and violated his fourth amendment rights. We affirm.

On July 29, 1983, Officer Mark Vail responded to a call of a battery in progress in the 4400 block of Lexington. When Vail arrived, he noticed a long wooden board approximately four feet long and blood on the pavement. Vail also found Claude Rager crouched against a building and bleeding at the top of his head and the side of his face. An ambulance arrived and took Rager to the hospital. Rager died approximately 14 days later, his death resulting from brain swelling and brain death caused by "blunt trauma to the head."

At trial, the State's evidence established that three persons witnessed defendant beat and rob Rager. All three eyewitnesses testified that they saw a "stranger" walking down the street. They then saw defendant and some of defendant's friends surround the man and kick him to the ground. Defendant was seen hitting the man with a "big board" in the head. Defendant and his friends then went through Rager's pockets and defendant took a ring off of Rager's hand. All three witnesses identified defendant in open court as the individual who hit Rager over the head with the board.

Detective Johnson also testified for the State. Johnson testified that he and his partner, Detective Glenn Godbold, arrested defendant on July 30, 1983. When Johnson conducted a protective search of defendant, he recovered two rings and approximately $300 from defendant's sock. Johnson testified that defendant was advised of his Miranda rights twice prior to any questioning. In an oral statement, defendant denied any involvement in the robbery and beating of Rager.

On July 31, 1983, defendant informed Johnson that he wanted to tell Johnson "exactly what happened." Defendant was again advised of his Miranda rights. Defendant then stated that after one of his friends grabbed Rager, defendant hit Rager with a "2 by 4." Rager fell to the ground and defendant and his friends went through Rager's pockets. Defendant's share of the take amounted to approximately $300 and two rings.

On July 31, defendant also spoke with Assistant State's Attorney Thomas Gibbons. Defendant related the same account of the incident to Gibbons as was told to Johnson. Defendant further told Gibbons that he was willing to give his statement in the presence of a court reporter. Defendant was read his Miranda rights once again and he gave a statement that was reduced to writing. Defendant reviewed the written statement, made several changes and additions and ultimately signed it.

Prior to trial, defendant made a motion to suppress this statement. In his offer of proof, defendant testified that he did not receive any food or drink from the time of his arrest to the time that he signed the typewritten statement. Defendant stated that he was handcuffed in the initial interview and that Godbold threatened him with physical harm. Defendant stated that he was threatened with physical harm repeatedly and that the assistant State's Attorney did not read defendant his rights. Defendant testified that he requested a lawyer but his request was denied and that the written statement was left with him for over four hours before he signed it.

The State's evidence established that defendant was arrested at 6 a.m. on July 30, 1983. He was taken to the police station and interviewed approximately seven times. Prior to each of those statements, defendant was read his Miranda rights. During the initial interview, defendant was not handcuffed nor was he threatened. At approximately 12 p.m. on July 30, defendant was placed in the lock-up facility at the police station. The officer in charge of the lockup testified that if a person in the lockup were to request food, he would be fed and that all persons in the lockup are fed once every eight hours.

Following defendant's admission to the lockup, he was allowed to make a phone call. All persons in the lockup were ...

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