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11/21/88 the People of the State of v. Lloyd Perkins

November 21, 1988





531 N.E.2d 141, 176 Ill. App. 3d 443, 126 Ill. Dec. 8 1988.IL.1686

Appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Clair County; the Hon. Richard A. Hudlin IV, Judge, presiding.


PRESIDING JUSTICE HARRISON delivered the opinion of the court. CALVO and WELCH, JJ., concur.


On March 31, 1986, the defendant, Lloyd Perkins, was charged by criminal complaint with murder in violation of section 9-1(a)(1) of the Criminal Code of 1961 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 9-1(a)(1)). The State issued a warrant for the defendant's arrest the next day. On June 19, 1986, a grand jury in St. Clair County handed up an indictment of the defendant for murder. On April 8, 1987, the circuit court of St. Clair County granted the defendant's motion to suppress statements made to an undercover police officer and to an informant. The State appeals. We affirm.

On November 8, 1984, Richard Stephenson was shot and killed in Fairview Heights, Illinois. The homicide remained unsolved as of the beginning of 1986. In March of 1986, Agent Kenneth Korunka of the Department of Criminal Investigation in Litchfield, Illinois, contacted the Fairview Heights police department. Korunka advised that Donald Charlton, an inmate at the Graham Correctional Facility in Hillsboro, Illinois, serving a six-year prison sentence for burglary, had information concerning a homicide in the Metro East area that had occurred about two years earlier.

Charlton subsequently told Korunka in an interview that while imprisoned at Graham, he had known the defendant and that the defendant had told him that he had murdered someone in East St. Louis. Charlton relayed the information to the police because he believed that "[people] should not kill people." He was not compensated in any way for his cooperation with the police. The facts Charlton related closely coincided with what the officers already knew of the unsolved murder. Korunka and Fairview Heights police officer Stephen Walters, assigned to the case from the detective unit, believed that only the perpetrator would know the facts of the murder in the detail that Charlton related.

On March 30, 1986, the officers were notified that the defendant was incarcerated in the Montgomery County jail awaiting trial for an unrelated charge of aggravated battery. Walters and his supervisors conferred and decided for various reasons that placing an eavesdropping device in the cell with the defendant would be impractical. The police then decided to elicit the information from the defendant through a ruse involving the placement of an undercover agent, posing as an escaped convict, with the defendant in the cellblock.

On March 31, 1986, Walters, Charlton, and the undercover officer, John Parisi, a narcotics agent for the Metropolitan Enforcement Group of Southwestern Illinois, met at the Fairview Heights police department. Walters told both Parisi and Charlton to refrain from questioning the defendant directly about the murder but to report anything the defendant stated concerning it. The group decided that Parisi and Charlton would inform the defendant that they had escaped from a work-release program at the Graham Correctional Center and had made their way to Montgomery County in order to join with the defendant and to take him with them to California. The cover story for their presence in the jail was that while they were in Montgomery County, they ran out of money and were arrested in the process of a burglary. Parisi, assuming the alias of "Vito Bianco" and wearing motorcycle garb, and Charlton were then photographed and placed in the cellblock.

Both Parisi and Charlton later testified that after entering the cellblock, Charlton spoke with the defendant briefly and introduced Parisi. Parisi told the defendant that he and Charlton had escaped from incarceration. Parisi stated that he "wasn't going to do any more time" and suggested that the three of them escape from the jail where they were currently being held. The defendant replied that the Montgomery County jail was "rinky-dink" and that he could arrange to have someone smuggle in a gun. The three decided to meet later that evening after the other inmates went to sleep.

At the meeting later that evening, Parisi initiated the defendant's narration of the crime by asking him whether he had ever "done someone." The defendant then recounted the events of the alleged murder in detail. At 7 the next morning, police officer Walters learned that Parisi had signaled the guard that the defendant had spoken about the murder. Once the guards had released him and Charlton from the jail, Parisi advised Charlton to make notes of what the defendant had said. The police subsequently brought the defendant to the courthouse and placed him under arrest for murder. Walters warned the defendant pursuant to Miranda v. Arizona (1966), 384 U.S. 436, 16 L. Ed. 2d 694, 86 S. Ct. 1602, and the defendant requested an attorney. Parisi, of course, had not given the defendant Miranda warnings prior to eliciting the information from him in the jail.

The trial court, on April 8, 1987, granted the defendant's motion to suppress the statements made to Parisi and Charlton. The court found that Parisi and Charlton were agents of the State who had failed to give the defendant Miranda warnings before conducting a custodial questioning. The State appeals.

The State contends that the trial court erred by suppressing the defendant's statements to an undercover agent where the conversation had not occurred in the sort of coercive environment in which the Supreme Court held that the police must give Miranda warnings. The State argues that the conversation among the defendant, Charlton, and Parisi was not interrogation, and that the conversation with the defendant, prior to the giving of ...

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