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02/28/89 the People of the State of v. John Arias

February 28, 1989





535 N.E.2d 89, 179 Ill. App. 3d 890, 128 Ill. Dec. 875 1989.IL.255

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Will County; the Hon. William Penn, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE STOUDER delivered the opinion of the court. BARRY and HEIPLE, JJ., concur.


Pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 604(a)(1) (107 Ill. 2d R. 604(a)(1)), the State appeals from the judgment of the circuit court of Will County, granting the defendant's motion to quash his arrest and to suppress evidence obtained following the arrest. At the suppression hearing, Joliet police officer Brenczewski testified that he was an investigator assigned to the case involving Willie Ray, who was shot to death on December 6, 1987. Having interviewed several people, the officer learned that two rival gangs were playing football when they spotted the victim, who was wearing his hat in a manner which indicated that he belonged to a different gang. Someone waved a gun at the victim, he ran, and the group chased after him. The defendant, John Arias, was a member of that group. When the group caught up with the victim, Edgar Pacheco fired a shot at him. Other shots were fired, and Arias was seen leaving the area where the shots were fired. The officer also learned that Arias subsequently gave a .38 caliber handgun, which smelled as if it had recently been fired, to another boy. The victim was shot with a .38 caliber handgun.

The officer interviewed Arias on December 9, 1987, at the police station. The defendant had agreed to come to the police station to answer questions. At that time Arias admitted that he was at the football field and chased the victim with a group of other men. However, he told the officers that he lost sight of the victim, heard shots, and walked away.

Brenczewski further testified that he subsequently met with Officers Boucher and Hulbert on December 16, 1987, at approximately 3 or 4 p.m. He discussed with the officers that he felt that he had probable cause to arrest Arias and informed Boucher that Arias should be questioned further in reference to the Willie Ray case. He did not tell Officer Boucher either to arrest or not to arrest the defendant. They did not have a warrant for Arias' arrest at that time, but nothing prevented them from procuring such a warrant. They had already arrested Edward Pacheco, pursuant to an arrest warrant signed before a Judge.

At approximately 4:45 p.m., Officers Boucher and Powers went to Arias' home to ask him to accompany them to the police station for questioning. Upon their arrival at the defendant's residence, a second-floor apartment of a two-unit apartment building, the officers proceeded to the back of the building to the only entrance of the upper apartment. The officers ascended the outside staircase, opened and entered the porch door at the top of the stairs and proceeded to knock on the door of the house. When the defendant's 27-year-old brother, Mario, answered the door, the officers identified themselves as police officers and asked if the defendant was home. They told Mario that they had more questions to ask the defendant. Mario invited the officers into the house and beckoned the defendant.

When the defendant appeared, Officer Boucher asked him if he would accompany the officers to the Joliet police department because the police wanted to talk to him further regarding the Willie Ray incident. The officers did not order the defendant to accompany them and did not threaten him in any way. Arias responded, indicating that he would have to get his coat and then wash his hands, which actions he did under the supervision of the officers. Arias asked the officers how long he would be at the police station. Boucher indicated that it would probably take an hour or two. Both the defendant and his girlfriend, who was present at the time, testified that Arias was denied permission to call his father. They further testified that he was denied permission to wait for his father, who would be returning around 6 p.m. Officer Powers testified that the defendant did not ask to call or to wait for his father.

The defendant's mother, who did not speak English, was present. The defendant asked his mother for a quarter to call his father from the station, but the officers indicated that the defendant could use their phone if he needed to make a call. Arias testified that he felt that he had to go with the officers but thought that he would be returning in a couple of hours.

Officer Boucher gave his calling card to Mario and asked him to explain to the defendant's mother that they wanted the defendant to come with them to the police station for a couple of hours. Mario spoke to his mother in Spanish, his mother nodded her head affirmatively, and Mario said that it was okay.

After the officers left with the defendant, the three all helped push a car, which was stuck because of snow and ice, from the driveway before getting into the unmarked squad car and proceeding to the station. Arias was not handcuffed as he left his residence, and the officers did not have hold of his arm. Boucher further testified that Arias was free to leave and would have been allowed to leave if he had asked to do so.

Upon their arrival at the station, Arias was formally arrested by Officer Hulbert, who then gave the defendant Miranda warnings and proceeded to interview him. Arias testified that he asked at this point if he could call his father but was not permitted to do so. Arias admitted that no promises or threats were given to him, and he agreed to be interviewed. The interview began at approximately 5:12 p.m. Arias testified that an hour into the interview he repeated his request to call his father ...

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