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09/20/89 the People of the State of v. Leonard Kidd

September 20, 1989





544 N.E.2d 704, 129 Ill. 2d 432, 136 Ill. Dec. 18 1989.IL.1460

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, the Hon. Arthur Cieslik, Judge, presiding.


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


Defendant, Leonard Kidd, pleaded guilty in the circuit court of Cook County to nine counts of murder, one count of armed robbery, one count of aggravated arson, and four counts of concealment of homicidal deaths. The trial court entered judgment on the pleas, and a jury was impaneled to decide whether the death sentence should be imposed. The jury found that defendant had attained the age of 18 or more at the time of the offense, that additional statutory aggravating factors existed (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 38, pars. 9-1(b)(3), (b)(6), (b)(7)), and that there were no mitigating factors sufficient to preclude the imposition of the death penalty. The Judge imposed the sentence of death. Execution was stayed pending direct review by this court. Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, § 4(b); Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 38, par. 9-1(i); 107 Ill. 2d Rules 603, 609(a).

We will briefly summarize only the facts necessary for resolution of the cause. Defendant was arrested, with his stepbrother Leroy Orange, on January 12, 1984, in connection with the discovery of four bodies, that same day, in a third-floor apartment in a building located at 1553 West 91st Street in Chicago. Authorities found the bodies after responding to a fire at that address. All of the victims had died from repeated stab wounds. Three of the victims, identified as Renee Coleman, Michelle Jointer and Ricardo Pedro, were adults, and the other victim was identified as Anthony Coleman, the 10-year-old son of Renee Coleman. Both defendant and Orange made statements to the police shortly after their arrests. Orange admitted in a signed confession to stabbing all four victims and setting the apartment on fire while in the presence of defendant.

Defendant's statement corroborated Orange's statement. Defendant admitted being at the apartment on January 12, 1984, during the commission of the offenses. He stated that he saw Orange stab Ricardo Pedro and tie him up. Defendant stated that he attempted to stop Pedro's bleeding; Orange later returned and stabbed Pedro in the neck. According to defendant's statement, Pedro broke loose, and Orange stabbed him approximately three more times. Orange then tied up and gagged the other victims, with the exception of Anthony Coleman, whom Renee Coleman tied up. According to both Orange's and defendant's statements, Orange then stabbed Renee, Anthony and Michelle, in that order. Orange then started two separate fires in the apartment. Following that, Orange gathered up the knives used in the killings, and other items from the crime scene, and the pair left the apartment and deposited the knives and various items in garbage cans in the surrounding area. Defendant later led the police to the items.

Orange and defendant were later jointly indicted for the murders of the four victims, armed violence, concealment of homicidal death, felony murder, armed robbery and aggravated arson. The trial court granted Orange's motion to sever their trials; a jury later convicted Orange of murder, aggravated arson, and concealment of a homicidal death. He was acquitted of armed robbery. The trial court subsequently sentenced Orange to death, and his convictions and sentences were affirmed in part and reversed in part on appeal to this court. People v. Orange (1988), 121 Ill. 2d 364.

At arraignment both defendants were represented by the same attorney, Earl Washington. Washington subsequently withdrew his representation of defendant and on April 19, 1984, Assistant Cook County Public Defender Paul Stralka was appointed to represent defendant.

On October 4, 1984, Stralka appeared in court with defendant and advised the court that he had learned that the State had interrogated defendant without Stralka's knowledge on September 14, 1984. On October 10, Stralka filed a motion for disclosure; although not in the record, it apparently asked the State to disclose any of the statements given by defendant, and whether the State planned to use any statements at trial or a sentencing hearing. At a hearing on the motion the next day, the State indicated that it would use the results of that interrogation only as evidence in aggravation at sentencing. Testimony of one of the interrogating officers at the sentencing hearing revealed that defendant was interrogated concerning his role in an unrelated 1980 fire in which 10 children died. The officer testified that he gave defendant his Miranda warnings and that defendant chose to speak to the detectives and assistant State's Attorney present. The officer admitted knowing that defendant was represented by counsel on the pending charges. During the interrogation, defendant admitted setting the fire, pointing out on a photograph a closet in which he said he set the fire.

On May 14, 1985, defendant's attorney informed the court that defendant planned to testify on behalf of Orange at Orange's trial. Defendant's attorney indicated that he had advised defendant of his fifth amendment privileges and had advised him not to testify. After questioning defendant, the trial court ascertained that it was defendant's decision to testify at Orange's trial.

On May 21, 1985, defendant testified at Orange's trial that he, not Orange, had stabbed all four victims and set the apartment on fire. He stated that Orange left the apartment at 2:30 a.m. and never came back, and denied that Orange participated in the offenses in any way. To impeach defendant, the State published to the jury defendant's original statement given to the police after his arrest.

On August 5, 1985, defendant, present with counsel, pleaded guilty to nine counts of murder, one count of armed robbery, one count of aggravated arson (for setting a fire at the 1553 West 91st Street apartment), and four counts of concealment of homicidal deaths. The court entered judgment on defendant's pleas. Because the State was seeking the death penalty, the case was set for sentencing before a jury. On August 8, before voir dire had begun, defendant made an oral motion to withdraw his pleas of guilty. The court requested that the motion be submitted to the court in writing in order to preserve the record and then denied the motion. On August 12, the trial court read into the record that the court was in possession of a written motion by defendant seeking to withdraw his guilty plea.

During the first phase of the death penalty hearing, which started on August 9, 1985, the State presented the testimony of several police officers and detectives who were called to the scene and investigated the offenses at issue; of the Cook County medical examiner; and of a court reporter from Orange's trial who read defendant's testimony from that trial to the jury. The jury returned verdicts finding that three statutory aggravating factors existed: that Pedro was killed intentionally by defendant in the course of an armed robbery (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 9-1(b)(6)(c)), that defendant intentionally murdered two or more individuals (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 9-1(b)(3)), and that Anthony Coleman was under 12 years of age and that his death resulted from exceptionally brutal or heinous behavior (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 9-1(b)(7)).

At the second phase of the death penalty hearing, the State presented the testimony of Chicago police Sergeant Joseph Murphy, who testified that he had investigated a fire that took place on October 28, 1980, at 1512 East 65th Place in Chicago, in which 10 children died. The cause of the fire could not be determined, but the origin of the fire was determined to be a closet in the living room area on the first floor.

According to Murphy's testimony, he was informed in September 1984 by Assistant State's Attorney Irv Miller that Miller had received information implicating defendant in the 1980 fire, and that if Murphy questioned defendant, he would relate his involvement in the 1980 fire. Murphy arranged to interrogate defendant about the 1980 fire on September 14, 1984, while defendant was in custody for the charges stemming from the case at bar. Although Murphy was aware at that time that defendant was represented by counsel, defendant's counsel was never advised that defendant was to be the subject of a police interrogation. Defendant was interviewed by Murphy, two detectives of the Chicago police department, and a Cook County assistant State's Attorney on September 14. Defendant was questioned about the 1980 fire after being given Miranda warnings. Defendant's counsel was not present. After initially denying that he had set the fire, upon being shown photographs of the victims, defendant confessed.

Defendant also testified on his own behalf, corroborating his testimony at Orange's trial that he stabbed the four victims. He denied that he set the 1980 fire. The jury found that no mitigating factors sufficient to preclude imposition of the death penalty existed, and the court sentenced defendant to death.

Defendant first challenges the adequacy of the admonitions given him by the trial court before the court accepted his pleas of guilty, and the trial court's subsequent refusal to permit him to withdraw his guilty pleas. Defendant asserts, citing Boykin v. Alabama (1969), 395 U.S. 238, 23 L. Ed. 2d 274, 89 S. Ct. 1709, and Supreme Court Rule 402 (107 Ill. 2d R. 402), that his due process rights were violated because he was never informed of, nor did he understand, the minimum sentence he could receive. He contends, therefore, that the court's refusal to permit him to withdraw his pleas was an abuse of discretion.

Rule 402 provides in part:

"In hearings on pleas of guilty, there must be substantial compliance with the following:

(a) Admonitions to Defendant. The court shall not accept a plea of guilty without first, by addressing the defendant personally in open court, informing him of and determining that he understands the following:

(2) the minimum and maximum sentence prescribed by law . . .." 107 Ill. 2d R. 402.

Defendant and counsel appeared in open court on August 5, 1985, at which time counsel asked the court to participate in a pretrial conference pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 402 (107 Ill. 2d R. 402). Defendant acknowledged this request on his behalf.

The court advised the defendant of his rights to testify and his rights to appeal. The court also reminded the defendant that his testimony given during Orange's trial could be used against him.

The record shows that the following Discussion then took place:

"THE COURT: Do you understand that, sir?


THE COURT: Do you have any problem? What is your problem, sir?

THE DEFENDANT: Well, what my main concern was the sentence, being life ...

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