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11/08/89 the People of the State of v. Charles E. Dodds

November 8, 1989





547 N.E.2d 523, 190 Ill. App. 3d 1083, 138 Ill. Dec. 356 1989.IL.1752

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Thomas A. Hett, Judge, presiding.


PRESIDING JUSTICE FREEMAN delivered the opinion of the court. RIZZI and CERDA, JJ., concur.


Following a jury trial in the circuit court of Cook County, defendant, Charles Dodds, was found guilty of murder (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 9-1) and sentenced to a term of life imprisonment in the Illinois Department of Corrections. On appeal, defendant contends that: (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress his confession; (2) the exclusion of evidence denied him a fair trial; (3) he was not proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; and (4) he was prejudiced by improper closing arguments made by the prosecution. We affirm.

Prior to the trial, defendant filed a motion to suppress his confession. The basis for the motion was that the confession had been made involuntarily. At the suppression hearing, the State presented the testimony of seven police officers. Recitation of each officer's testimony would be cumulative, thus a general summary of their testimony will suffice.

Detective James Gildea testified that on February 5, 1985, he and his partner, Scott Keenan, were assigned to investigate a homicide at 1635 West Morse Avenue in Chicago. Upon arriving at that address, Gildea went to a third-floor apartment in the building, where he saw the bodies of two homicide victims, Shirley Glenn and Thomas O'Connor. At about 8 p.m. that same evening, he arrested defendant, who was in another apartment in the building, and transported him to the police station. Once at the police station, defendant was asked to remove his clothing and was given a paper suit to wear. Defendant's clothing was then sent to the crime lab for analysis.

On the evening of his arrest, defendant was interviewed, once, by Officer Dennis Gray. According to Gray, defendant appeared "natural" at first but, towards the end of the interview, defendant began to nod off to sleep. It appeared to Gray that defendant was under the influence of drugs or alcohol; however, at the time of the interview, Gray was not aware of defendant's earlier alcohol and drug consumption. Defendant was permitted to sleep, in the interview room, until the following morning.

On February 6, defendant was interviewed by detectives about four or five times during the course of the day. Prior to each interview, defendant was advised of and waived his Miranda rights. Each of these interviews lasted in duration for 15 to 20 minutes. During each of the interviews, defendant appeared to be alert and was responsive. Defendant was handcuffed to a ring which was attached to a wall in the interview room; however, the handcuffs were removed during the interviews. During defendant's period of detention he was given food, pop and cigarettes and was permitted the use of the lavatory. The detectives made no threats of physical abuse and no promises of leniency in exchange for his cooperation.

On the morning of the sixth, defendant's mother, Clara Dodds, visited him at the police station. She was permitted to speak with defendant privately. Even though the door to the interview room remained open during her visit, the detectives were not able to overhear their conversation.

Beatrice Hart testified that she had been a police officer for five years and that she and defendant were friends. Hart was also the friend of Glenn, and was the godmother of Tamiko Coleman, Glenn's daughter. On February 5, 1985, Hart was informed by Detective Michael O'Brien that defendant had been arrested in connection with the murders of Glenn and O'Connor and that defendant had requested to see her. On February 6, Hart visited with defendant three times at the police station. Hart stated that the first and third of her visits with defendant were at his request. Hart was not in uniform at the time, and neither she nor defendant spoke of the allegations pending against him. Hart stated that defendant was concerned about Tamiko and inquired about her welfare. Each time Hart spoke with defendant, he was alert and appeared to be fine.

During Hart's third visit with defendant, which occurred at about 10:30 p.m., defendant began to talk about the murders. At trial, Hart testified that defendant told her that she knew what he had gone through with Glenn, and that he couldn't take it anymore. Hart interrupted defendant's statement, and responded that she was there as his friend, not as a police officer. Hart then summoned the detectives into the interview room. Defendant then made an oral statement confessing his involvement in the murders.

Assistant State's Attorney Robert Babbitt stated that on February 7, the investigating officers advised him that defendant was admitting his participation in the homicides. At about 1:55 a.m. that day, after defendant had made a second oral statement, he agreed to make a court-reported statement. Babbitt and Officer Scott Keenan were the only two present with defendant at this time. Prior to making the statement, defendant was advised again of his Miranda rights. Defendant's statement was taken, transcribed, and Babbitt then read it to him. Defendant then read the statement, made corrections on it and initialled his corrections. In response to Babbitt's inquiry concerning defendant's treatment by the police, defendant stated that the policemen had treated him "very nice."

At the close of the evidence, the trial Judge stated that there was no evidence of any physical brutality or coercion. The court noted that defendant had been permitted to sleep for portions of the period of his detention, he had been permitted use of the lavatory, he had been given food and cigarettes upon his request, and he was permitted to speak privately with his mother. The trial court found that Hart's conversations with defendant were not for investigatory purposes. Finally, the trial Judge stated that, with the exception of the first interview, the evidence showed that defendant was alert and responsive and that there was no evidence that he was impaired due to his earlier use of drugs and alcohol. Based on this evidence, the court denied defendant's motion to suppress his confession.

At trial, Carmon Frapolli, manager of the 1635 Morse Avenue apartment building, stated that defendant and Glenn had moved into the apartment building in July 1984 and that they occupied apartment number 303. Defendant moved out of the apartment about three weeks prior to the murders. The move was the result of the last of many breakups ...

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