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01/04/94 PEOPLE STATE ILLINOIS v. QUENTIN D. HOLMES

January 4, 1994

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
QUENTIN D. HOLMES, A/K/A QUENTIN FITZGERALD, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Saline County. No. 91-CF-248. Honorable Arlie O. Boswell, Jr., Judge Presiding.

Petition for Leave to Appeal Denied June 2, 1994.

Rarick, Welch, Goldenhersh

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rarick

JUSTICE RARICK delivered the opinion of the court:

Defendant Quentin Holmes was charged with three counts of first-degree murder, one count of unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon, and theft over $300. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, ch. 38, pars. 9-1(a)(1), 9-1(a)(2), 24-1.1(a), 16-1(a)(1)(A).) The trial court entered a pretrial order, pursuant to defendant's motion, quashing defendant's arrest and suppressing his confession and physical evidence obtained as a result of the confession. The State appeals the suppression order. We reverse.

Testimony at the hearing on defendant's motion to suppress revealed that on the morning of November 25, 1991, the police were called to the Carrier Mills residence of Earl Wayne Gulley, where Mr. Gulley was found dead as a result of a gunshot wound to the chest. Saline County Deputy Jim Dunn suggested that Sheriff Henley talk to defendant because his name had come up during an investigation of an earlier burglary at Gulley's home. Deputy Dunn was aware that defendant had been assisting the victim in the recovery of some guns which had been stolen during the burglary. Sheriff Henley, Saline County Detective James Wheatcroft, and Deputy Mike Jones located defendant at the Carrier Mills home of his girlfriend, Lisa Violette. Defendant and his girlfriend were asked to come to the sheriff's department to be interviewed. They agreed, and defendant rode to the sheriff's department in Harrisburg with Sheriff Henley and Detective Wheatcroft Deputy Jones waited for Lisa Violette, who needed to get dressed first. According to Detective Wheatcroft, defendant was not under arrest. On the way to the sheriff's department, defendant told Sheriff Henley that he could help solve "this thing * * * probably give you the shooter." Because Sheriff Henley was not conducting the investigation, he told defendant that he would rather defendant wait and talk to the officers who knew more about the case.

Defendant arrived at the sheriff's department at about 10:10 a.m. Detective Wheatcroft left defendant in the "attorney's room" at the sheriff's department and told one of the jail staff that defendant would be there until they got back from the crime scene. To leave the department, a person would have to push a button which would then ring a bell alerting the dispatch officers to open the door. Defendant stated he was aware of the security door and knew how to get out of the building but never tried to leave. Wheatcroft did not tell the jail staff whether defendant could leave. As defendant was not considered a suspect at that time, he was not handcuffed or confined to the attorney's room. He was told he could go to the kitchen where coffee was available, was allowed to wait in the same room with his girlfriend, and had free access to the restroom.

Sheriff Henley never told defendant he was free to leave, nor did he tell the person who operated the security door that defendant could leave. Henley acknowledged that the sheriff's department log notation, "watch two suspects for Major Miller and Sheriff Henley," probably referred to defendant and his girlfriend. Major Miller did not recall telling the dispatch officer to watch defendant, but if he had, he stated he would not have used the term "suspects" because defendant and Violette were not suspects. One reason he would have wanted defendant watched was because his office contained antique guns and ammunition. Jail Administrator David Underwood, who was not on duty and not involved in the investigation, was painting his office near where defendant was waiting to be interviewed. At one point Underwood overheard defendant telling a person that he did not want anyone to know he was there because he was helping the police on a murder case.

After Detective Wheatcroft returned to the department about 11:15 a.m., he and Illinois State Police Department of Criminal Investigations (DCI) Agent David Elwood interviewed Lisa Violette. The purpose of the interview was to gain information about defendant's helping the victim in recovering the weapons which were stolen on November 18. Violette told the officers the victim had given a gun inventory list to defendant the previous week. She also stated defendant suspected Jerry Gulley committed the burglary. According to Wheatcroft, neither Violette nor defendant was a suspect in the burglary at that time. At approximately noon or 1:00 p.m., after Violette's interview, sandwiches were brought in for Violette, defendant, and the investigating officers who were at the department. Although nothing was said during Violette's interview which made the officers feel defendant was a suspect, the officers did decide to seek search warrants for both defendant's residence and Violette's residence in case the items Violette had talked about might lead to evidence concerning the murder.

At about 2:30 p.m., while waiting for the search warrants, Detective Wheatcroft conducted a preliminary interview with defendant. Wheatcroft learned defendant had been at the victim's home the night before, talking about the one gun that still had not been recovered. Defendant stated Jerry Gulley arrived while he was there. Defendant decided to go out the back door because he did not want Jerry to know he (defendant) had told Earl Wayne Gulley that Jerry might have been the one who took his guns. The interview lasted approximately 45 minutes. Nothing said during the interview made Wheatcroft believe that defendant was a suspect. In fact, at that time, Wheatcroft believed defendant to be the main witness against Jerry Gulley. Defendant had not asked to leave the department and had agreed to give a tape-recorded statement. During the time that Wheatcroft was "waiting around for a search warrant," he "talked off and on with [defendant] two or three times." Around 3:30 p.m. Chief Deputy Ed Miller went in to talk with defendant and ask him whether he had been at the victim's home when the murder occurred. Defendant became agitated with Miller and told him to either arrest him or let him go. Miller did not give Miranda warnings to defendant before talking with him. Wheatcroft then went back in the room with defendant and told defendant to calm down. Defendant did not ask Wheatcroft if he could leave.

The search warrants were issued at approximately 6:30 p.m. Defendant accompanied Illinois State Police Officer David McLearin and Detective Wheatcroft in Wheatcroft's car to his home. Wheatcroft's car did not have a cage, nor were there any automatic locks on the back doors. Defendant was not restrained in any way. The officers did not inform defendant he did not have to go with them, nor did they tell him he did not have to return to the department. Defendant's home was searched from 7:05 to 7:23 p.m. After the search, defendant rode with the officers to Lisa Violette's house. Defendant still was not considered to be a suspect and was not restrained in any way. At that time, the focus of the investigation was still on Jerry Gulley. Wheatcroft testified that the search warrant included items of clothing only to eliminate defendant's involvement in the shooting. Officer McLearin explained that as part of their investigation they needed to prove defendant was not present at the murder scene. The reason the search warrant included clothes was so they could check for blood spatters. If the clothing did not have blood spatters, it would bolster defendant's statement he was not there. McLearin explained it was just like taking fingerprints - "you have a lot of people who might be in an area and sometimes you have to get elimination prints."

When the searches were completed, defendant was asked to return to the sheriff's department in Harrisburg so that he could give his tape-recorded statement. The officers asked defendant if he would drive himself so they would not have to take him back to Carrier Mills after the interview. Defendant agreed, arriving back at the department around 8:00 p.m. No one was told to follow defendant to the sheriff's department.

At approximately 8:20 p.m. in the attorney's room at the sheriff's department, McLearin and Wheatcroft took defendant's tape-recorded statement. As part of the standard preamble to all taped statements conducted by "DCI," Miranda rights were read to defendant. Defendant indicated he understood those rights. When asked if he ever had had any mental problems, defendant replied affirmatively. Because Officer McLearin did not notice defendant's reply, no further inquiry was made regarding defendant's mental capacity at that time. The interview ended about 9:04 p.m. and contained most of the same information given during the 2:30 p.m. interview. Defendant did add that the victim and Jerry Gulley argued and that he heard a gunshot while Jerry was in the victim's home. Wheatcroft did not remember whether defendant asked to leave at that time, but the officers did ask defendant to "wait around a little bit longer" until the officers had talked with Jerry Gulley in case they needed defendant to rebut anything.

Agent Elwood interviewed Jerry Gulley, Jerry's live-in girlfriend, and her two children at approximately 9:30 or 10 p.m. All stated Jerry was at home during the time defendant said he had seen Jerry at the victim's home. Some time thereafter, a Carrier Mills police officer confirmed that Jerry's truck had been at his home during the time the victim was killed.

Wheatcroft testified that at 11 p.m., Chief Deputy Miller advised them Jerry had an alibi for the time of the shooting. The officers then believed defendant was not being truthful and decided to reinterview him. At this point, defendant became a suspect. At 11:27 p.m., again in the attorney's room at the sheriff's department, defendant was told the officers did not believe he was telling the whole truth. Miranda rights were read to defendant. He was also given a written form, which he signed. This interview was not tape recorded. The officers told defendant that Jerry could not have shot Gulley and that if defendant shot him in self-defense, they would pass on such information to the State's Attorney. Defendant informed them he had been at the victim's home. The victim accused him of committing the burglary and of trying to get more money by selling the guns back to him. Defendant stated he thought the victim was going to reach for a gun on the table, so defendant picked up a shotgun and fired at the victim. About 15 minutes into the interview, defendant told them that he wanted an attorney. Officer McLearin advised defendant it was his right to contact an attorney and the interview would have to be terminated because defendant had asked for an attorney. Within approximately 30 seconds of the termination of the interview, defendant said that he would like to go ahead and talk to them. McLearin explained to defendant that the interview was terminated and that they could no longer talk to him because he had asked for an attorney. McLearin explained the only way they could talk would be for defendant to initiate the conversation and request to talk to them. Defendant then stated he wished to go ahead and tell his side of the story without an attorney. McLearin proceeded to ask defendant questions. Miranda rights were not given again. They talked about the murder for approximately another 15 minutes. Officer McLearin then asked defendant if he would give a taped statement repeating what he had just told them. Defendant agreed. McLearin suggested they take a break to allow defendant to regain his composure, as he had become upset when he talked about pulling the trigger. Defendant was given food and drink.

The second taped statement began at 12:18 a.m. with Officer McLearin again giving Miranda warnings to defendant. Defendant understood he did not have to talk to the officer or give a statement. During the standard preamble to the statement, defendant stated he had been treated for depression while he was in the Department of Corrections but no longer had any mental problems. As in the preceding untaped statement, defendant indicated that he had gone to Gulley's house, and that Gulley had accused defendant of having broken into his house and stolen his guns. As defendant got up to leave, he thought Gulley was reaching for a gun on the table. Defendant grabbed a shotgun off of a counter and shot Gulley. Defendant also revealed that he took a ring and two watches from the victim's home to give the appearance of a robbery, and that he also took the shotgun with which he had killed the victim and threw it in the Carrier Mills reservoir. The interview concluded about 12:39 a.m. at which time defendant was placed under arrest. Wheatcroft and McLearin asked defendant to take them to the Carrier Mills reservoir and show them where he had thrown the ...


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