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09/20/89 the People of the State of v. Larry Strickland

September 20, 1989





544 N.E.2d 758, 129 Ill. 2d 550, 136 Ill. Dec. 72 1989.IL.1455

Appeal from the Appellate Court for the First District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, the Hon. Fred Suria, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE MILLER delivered the opinion of the court. JUSTICE CALVO took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.


The defendant, Larry Strickland, was indicted in the circuit court of Cook County on charges of murder, attempted murder, aggravated kidnapping, and armed robbery, among other offenses. Before trial the defendant moved to suppress statements he made to police at the time of his arrest in connection with those charges. Following an evidentiary hearing, the circuit Judge granted the motion and suppressed the defendant's statements. The appellate court affirmed the circuit Judge's decision in an unpublished order (163 Ill. App. 3d 1158), and we allowed the State's petition for leave to appeal (107 Ill. 2d R. 315(a)).

The charges against the defendant were based on a series of offenses that he and a codefendant, his brother, Tyrone, allegedly committed on November 5, 1985. According to the allegations and to the evidence presented at the suppression hearing, the defendant and his brother shot and killed Wheeling police officer Kenneth Dawson around 7:30 that evening while the officer was investigating a report of a break-in at an apartment complex in Wheeling. As the Stricklands were driving away from the area, they exchanged gunfire with Officer William Stutzman, who had been summoned as a backup for Officer Dawson; it appears that the defendant sustained a gunshot wound to his left index finger at that time. The Stricklands subsequently commandeered a car and forced the three occupants to take them to Chicago. There the driver curbed his vehicle near a squad car in an attempt to attract the attention of a police officer. The Stricklands then fled on foot, firing at the police officer, Edward Gross.

The defendant and his brother were apprehended minutes later. The defendant was found hiding under a car in a parking lot in the 600 block of South Plymouth Court in Chicago; he had a .38-caliber handgun with him. The defendant was arrested and taken to the first district police station. There, the defendant was questioned by Chicago police detectives James O'Connell and Charles Lind. While the defendant was being held at the first district station, fire department paramedics were called there to treat co-defendant Tyrone Strickland for hyperventilation. The paramedics were not told about the defendant's condition, however, and they left the station without having seen the defendant.

Around 11 o'clock that night the defendant was taken to Area One headquarters, where he was questioned shortly after his arrival by Detective Robert Dwyer, one of the arresting officers. Beginning at 12:45 or 12:50 a.m., the defendant was questioned by Detective Lind and Wheeling police officer William Hubner. The interrogation lasted about 45 minutes, ending around 1:30 a.m. The defendant participated in a series of lineups beginning at 4 a.m. At 5:25 that morning, the defendant was questioned by Assistant State's Attorney Mark Rakoczy; Officers Lind and Hubner were also present. According to Rakoczy, toward the end of the interrogation the defendant mentioned the injury to his finger, and Rakoczy then decided that the defendant needed treatment. Rakoczy estimated that the interview lasted about 20 or 25 minutes, and he said that it ended several minutes after he learned of the defendant's injury.

The defendant was transported to Cook County Hospital, arriving around 6:30. The defendant's hand was X-rayed, and at 8:20 he was placed on a stretcher in the emergency room. According to the hospital records, the defendant had come for treatment of a gunshot wound to his left index finger, and there was dried blood in the area of the wound. The records also disclosed that the defendant was alert and oriented at the time. The defendant was given a saline solution intravenously to prevent shock. The defendant was later examined by a physician, who found that the gunshot had fractured the middle phalanx of the defendant's left index finger, destroying the bone and the joint. According to the doctor, movement of the finger would have been painful. The doctor also found that the defendant had a graze wound to his hand, which was apparently caused by a bullet. The examination did not reveal evidence of any of the injuries that the defendant, at the suppression hearing, claimed to have incurred following his arrest.

Assistant State's Attorney Rakoczy arrived at the hospital around 9 o'clock that morning. After gaining permission from the doctor to speak to the defendant, Rakoczy initiated another interrogation. The defendant was lying on a gurney in a hallway near the emergency room, and Rakoczy had the defendant moved to a more secluded area nearby. The interrogation began around 9:20 or 9:25. According to Rakoczy, he asked the defendant essentially the same questions that he had asked earlier, using notes from the prior interview. Several police officers were nearby. It appears that the defendant made only oral statements during the five periods of interrogation.

The defendant underwent reconstructive surgery of his injured finger about a week after he was admitted to the hospital; the reason for the delay was to ensure that the wound was clean. A bone graft was installed in the joint, and two pins were used to hold the bone in place. The defendant was given a general anesthetic for the operation. He was discharged from the hospital on November 18.

The defendant, in his testimony at the suppression hearing, maintained that he had been physically abused by the police officers at the time of his arrest and while he was at the first district police station. The defendant also testified that the officers were aware of his injury but withheld medical treatment from him, and that the officers said that he would be treated only after he gave a statement regarding the offenses charged here.

At the hearing, defense counsel relied on two separate grounds in support of the suppression motion. Counsel first contended that a number of the police officers physically abused the defendant while he was in custody. Counsel also contended, as a separate ground warranting suppression of the defendant's statements, that the officers had withheld medical treatment for the defendant's gunshot wound. Although the defendant's written suppression motion also alleged that the defendant was not informed of his rights under Miranda v. Arizona ...

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