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01/17/89 the People of the State of v. Kirk Watson

January 17, 1989




Before adjourning court until the following day, the Judge asked defense counsel how many witnesses he would present, and counsel responded that he expected to put on six witnesses. However, the next day, Friday, counsel informed the court that most of defendant's witnesses were doctors with rigid schedules and that many of them would not be available. Counsel then asked the court for a continuance until the following Monday in order to allow the defense to secure its witnesses. The court denied the motion.


533 N.E.2d 1011, 178 Ill. App. 3d 796, 127 Ill. Dec. 929 1989.IL.32

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Themis Karnesis, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE SCARIANO delivered the opinion of the court. EGAN, P.J., and BILANDIC, J., concur.


Defendant Kirk Watson was sentenced to a term of eight years in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections after a jury found him guilty of aggravated criminal sexual assault and criminal sexual assault. Defendant now appeals from his conviction.

After defendant was arrested for sexually abusing his stepdaughter, Alicia Watson, the grand jury returned an indictment charging him with one count of aggravated criminal sexual assault, three counts of criminal sexual assault, and one count of sexual relations with families.

Prior to trial, the court held a hearing on defendant's motion to suppress his confession, at which hearing he testified on his own behalf and Assistant State's Attorney William Benson testified for the People. In rebuttal, defendant presented the testimony of his wife, Frances Watson.

Defendant's testimony was that the police called him to the police station with reference to his stepdaughter Alicia, that he was told that they wanted to hear his side of the story, and that he did not need to be accompanied by an attorney. Defendant understood that no charges were pending against him and that he would be allowed to go home after questioning.

After arriving at the police station and before there was any questioning by the police, Officer Pancer of the Chicago police department gave defendant his Miranda warnings, and defendant responded that he understood those rights. The officer then told him to wait for the arrival of Assistant State's Attorney William Benson.

Defendant alleged that when Benson arrived, he told him that he "didn't want any bullshit out of me, he just wanted a confession." Defendant stated that Benson told him that he had proof that the defendant had molested his stepdaughter, and that if he did not confess immediately, he would go to jail for 20 years. He went on to testify that he told Benson that "[maybe] I should have a lawyer," but that Benson responded that he did not have time to obtain an attorney.

Defendant further alleged that he made two requests for an attorney during the questioning but that these requests were denied. He also contended that Benson told him that the State had "proof positive" that he was guilty and that there was not a lawyer in the world who would take his case. Benson is also said to have told defendant that his "best bet" was to confess and plead guilty, and promised him a sentence of six months' probation if he did so.

Defendant maintained that the confession, as transcribed by Benson, was not in his own words and that Benson threatened him with a 20-year sentence every time he objected to something in the statement. Defendant further stated that he signed the confession because he wanted his family to be together more than he cared about having a black mark on his record and because he believed he would be sent to jail for 20 years if he did not sign.

On cross-examination, defendant admitted that he understood his Miranda warnings. When asked if Benson informed him of the specific contents of the statement, defendant admitted that Benson told him everything that was included in the statement. Defendant admitted that he did not read the statement in full, but that he did "scan" the statement and sign it.

Benson testified that on March 21, 1986, he was assigned to the felony review unit of the State's Attorney's office and that on that day, he was sent to Chicago's Area 2 Violent Crimes Headquarters to interview defendant. Before interviewing him, Benson advised defendant of his Miranda warnings, and defendant acknowledged that he understood his rights. Benson further testified that he first had a conversation with defendant and later a second one with respect to which he transcribed defendant's answers into handwritten form. Benson stated that he never mentioned probation and never ...

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