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January 12, 1994


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Thomas Maloney, Judge Presiding.

Released for Publication March 18, 1994. Petition for Leave to Appeal Denied April 6, 1994.

Cerda, Tully, Rizzi

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Cerda

JUSTICE CERDA delivered the opinion of the court:

Following a jury trial, defendant, Albert Reynolds, was convicted of first degree murder (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1989, ch. 38, par. 9-1-a(1)) for the death of his mother, Lealer Reynolds. He was sentenced to 35 years' imprisonment. On appeal, defendant asserts that (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion to quash arrest and suppress evidence based on the lack of probable cause to arrest and his being unlawfully detained for 55 hours until he made an incriminating statement; and (2) he was not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. We quash defendant's arrest, suppress his confession, reverse his conviction, and remand for a new trial and such further proceedings as the trial court shall determine.

At the pre-trial hearing on defendant's motion to quash arrest and suppress his statement, Chicago police detectives Jerome Rusnak and Victor Breska both testified that they arrived at the victim's home around 6 p.m. on June 4, 1989. They found her lying on her stomach in the bathroom. A small pool of blood was under her head and her body was cold. It appeared that the victim had died from a fall, striking her head and bleeding to death. There were no signs of trauma to the body, of forced entry, or of a struggle.

Defendant told the detectives that he found the front door closed but unlocked when he arrived for supper at 4:30 p.m. He said that he went in and found his mother lying on the bathroom floor. When he felt the body, it was cold, so he asked neighbors to call the police. According to the detectives, defendant appeared to have been drinking and was extremely nervous, agitated, and upset. As the detectives were leaving, defendant asked them several times whether there were any signs of foul play.

Rusnak and Breska interviewed the victim's neighbors, who stated that defendant had been in the neighborhood that afternoon telling people that his mother's apartment door was open.

Chicago police detectives William Foley and William Kelley both testified that they learned at 12:30 p.m. on June 5, 1989, that the autopsy indicated the victim's death was a homicide. The detectives went to the victim's home, processed the scene, and interviewed neighbors and family members. The bathroom floor was bloodstained and the walls were splattered with blood. There were no signs of forced entry.

Foley and Kelley interviewed Dorothy Reynolds Easton, the victim's daughter. Easton told the police that cash, a wallet, and food from the freezer were missing. According to Easton, her mother was very security conscious and always kept her doors locked. Easton also told the detectives that defendant did not have a key and was not allowed into her mother's home when he had been drinking.

Later that afternoon, Foley and Kelley went to defendant's apartment. After telling defendant that his mother's death was a homicide, they asked him to go to the station to help with the investigation. Defendant agreed. According to the detectives, defendant was calm, but had been drinking. He was not searched, handcuffed, nor advised of his Miranda rights.

After arriving at the Area Three police station around 4:30 p.m. on June 5, 1989, the detectives put defendant in an interview room which had lockers, a table, and several chairs. When they noticed red spots on his pants and shoes, defendant told them that the spots were paint, not blood, but agreed to have his clothes tested. After defendant gave them his pants and shoes, the detectives gave him a paper suit to wear. Both detectives denied ever hitting defendant, forcing him to take off his pants, accusing him of killing his mother, threatening him, or handcuffing him.

Chicago police sergeant Owens testified that he was on duty from 3 to 11:30 p.m. on June 5, 1989. He stated that defendant was intoxicated when he came to the station so he was put into an unlocked interview room to sober up. Owens checked on defendant, who never asked to leave, was not handcuffed to a ring on the wall, and slept much of the time.

Chicago police detective Louis Ceasar testified that he spoke with defendant around 5 p.m. on June 5, 1989, in an unlocked interview room. He did not advise defendant of his Miranda rights because he was not a suspect. Defendant, who was intoxicated and smelled of alcohol, but appeared to be calm, was not handcuffed. He signed a consent form to search his apartment for items stolen from his mother's home because he wanted to find out what had happened to his mother.

Ceasar left the station and interviewed the victim's neighbors. According to Ceasar, various discrepancies occurred between the statements of defendant and the neighbors. At 11:30 p.m., Ceasar again spoke with defendant, who was more alert, sober, and very cooperative. Ceasar asked defendant if he were willing to stay at the police station overnight and take a polygraph examination the next day. Defendant agreed.

On June 6, 1989, defendant took a polygraph examination. At 4:30 p.m., Ceasar advised him of his Miranda rights and told him that he had failed the polygraph examination. During the ensuing conversation, defendant told Ceasar that William Rutledge, who was a friend, may have had access to the victim's home. Ceasar left the station to interview Rutledge.

Sergeant Owens testified that defendant's daughter, Renita Reynolds, arrived about 8 p.m. on June 6, 1989. When she arrived, defendant was taken by Owens to a different room, which had air conditioning. After visiting privately with her father, Ms. Reynolds left and returned with food for her father. Before leaving the station, Ms. Reynolds told Owens that she would appreciate her father staying at the police station until the next day. According to Owens, he told Ms. Reynolds that the police would try to keep defendant at the station, but that he would miss his mother's funeral if the police came up with any evidence with which to charge him.

Detective McKinley testified that on June 7, 1989, he and three other detectives took defendant to his residence at 3:00 a.m. They searched his premises. Thereafter, they all drove to defendant's mother's house where McKinley remained in the car with defendant while the other detectives went into the house for an hour. Upon returning to the police station, they took defendant back into the interview room. At 6:30 p.m. on June 7, 1989, Detectives Rusnak and Breska spoke with defendant, who was calm and relaxed. After Breska advised defendant of his Miranda rights, a conversation occurred until 8 p.m. when defendant's son, Dr. Reynolds, arrived with cigarettes and money for food. Defendant visited privately with his son for 30 minutes upstairs in a room. After the visit, Dr. Reynolds told Breska that the family wanted defendant to stay at the police station until defendant's mother's funeral.

At 9 p.m., the detectives again told defendant that he had failed the polygraph examination and that there were several discrepancies between his statements and those of several neighbors. Defendant responded that he suffered from alcohol blackouts and that his memory was returning. He asked for some time to think about what had happened. Defendant was left alone in the unlocked interview room.

At 11 p.m., defendant informed Breska that he wanted to tell him what really happened the day his mother died. After Breska advised him of his Miranda rights, defendant made an oral confession. Breska formally placed defendant under arrest, locked the door to the interview room, and notified the State's Attorney's Office.

Assistant State's Attorney Michelle Katz spoke with defendant at 12:30 a.m. on June 8, 1989. Katz testified that defendant was calm, articulate, had a friendly demeanor, and was fully in control of his faculties. After being advised of his Miranda rights, defendant repeated his confession to Katz. He read the written statement aloud and signed it.

The trial court denied the motion, stating that defendant's claims of deception, brutality, and coercion were totally inconsistent with the evidence. The trial court concluded that the statement was voluntary and not the product of an illegal arrest.

At trial, Detective Ceasar testified regarding defendant's oral statements. On June 5, 1989, at 5 p.m., defendant told Ceasar that he had been on a drinking binge for about a week before he went to his mother's house on the afternoon of June 4, 1989. Defendant stated that his mother's door was open, so he went around the back to tell Ruth Cathledge, a neighbor. Ms. Cathledge gave defendant a ride home, where he slept for about 40 minutes before returning to his mother's house. Defendant then went inside and discovered his mother's body.

When Ceasar told defendant that some of his mother's property was missing, defendant agreed to sign a consent to search form and stated that he wanted to find out what had happened to his mother. None of ...

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