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07/28/89 the People of the State of v. Nathaniel Knox

July 28, 1989





542 N.E.2d 910, 186 Ill. App. 3d 808, 134 Ill. Dec. 564 1989.IL.1175

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Michael P. Toomin, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE LORENZ delivered the opinion of the court. PINCHAM and COCCIA, JJ., concur.


On the evening of October 31, 1985, Nathaniel Knox, then 15 years old, was arrested at his home for the sexual assault of his six-year-old female neighbor, T.B. He was taken to the Area 4 police station at Harrison Street and Kedzie Avenue, where he signed a written confession. Prior to his jury trial, defendant moved, unsuccessfully, to suppress that statement on the basis that the confession was not voluntarily given. The statement was admitted into evidence at trial and defendant was subsequently convicted of aggravated kidnapping and aggravated criminal sexual assault. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, pars. 10-1, 12-14.

We now reverse defendant's convictions and remand the cause for retrial because we conclude defendant's pretrial motion to suppress his confession was improperly denied, and summarize below relevant testimony adduced during the hearing on defendant's motion to suppress.

Chicago police detective Thomas Skol testified that on October 31, 1985, he was assigned to defendant's case and spoke to T.B. and her mother at Columbus Hospital. Based on that conversation, Skol went to 4341 West Kinzie Street, where defendant lived with his parents. It was approximately 9:15 p.m. when Skol arrived. Skol was with police sergeant John Schillen. Skol stated he was admitted into the residence and there arrested defendant.

Skol stated he spoke with defendant's father and indicated to him that he could accompany defendant to the police station. However, defendant's father "chose not to" go. Skol testified he either left a card with defendant's father, presumably containing information where defendant was being taken, or wrote on a piece of paper his name and telephone number. Skol then took defendant to the Area 4 police station.

There, Skol stated, he advised defendant of his rights pursuant to Miranda v. Arizona (1966), 384 U.S. 436, 16 L. Ed. 2d 694, 86 S. Ct. 1602, and defendant replied that he understood what those rights were. Skol then advised defendant of the allegations that had been made against him. Skol further testified that he asked defendant if he wanted to account for his actions, whereupon defendant admitted the sexual encounter with T.B.

Skol stated that he contacted Assistant State's Attorney Gregory Girote by telephone, Girote arrived at the police station at approximately 12 p.m. and was advised of information developed in the case. They then proceeded to Columbus Hospital where they spoke with T. B. and her mother. They returned to the police station and Girote again advised defendant of his rights pursuant to Miranda. Defendant recounted in the interview with Girote a similar version of the sexual encounter that defendant had earlier related to Skol. Skol testified that defendant's statement was reduced to writing, and that after defendant read the statement, he signed it.

On cross-examination, Skol testified that there were several other people in the house when defendant was arrested, but he did not recall whether there were any young children, nor could he recall defendant's father's reason for not accompanying defendant to the police station. He admitted the initial interview with defendant began at approximately 9:45 p.m. and lasted approximately 45 minutes, and that the second interview by Girote began at approximately 1:45 a.m. and lasted for approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Skol acknowledged defendant was at the police station from 9:30 p.m. to 2 to 2:15 a.m.

Skol could not recall whether, during his initial interview of defendant, defendant had asked if his mother was coming to the police station, or if she was present in the station, or if defendant had said that he wanted to speak to his mother. When asked whether he was aware that defendant's mother was in the police station, he admitted she may have been there, but stated he did not remember seeing her, and further stated that he was certain that he did not inquire at the front desk whether or not anybody came to see about defendant.

He admitted that he knew at the time of the arrest that defendant was 15 years old, and that, although he notified the "Youth Division" sometime between 9:45 and 10 p.m. after defendant's arrest, no juvenile ...

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