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02/22/94 PEOPLE STATE ILLINOIS v. JESSE CLEMON

February 22, 1994

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
JESSE CLEMON, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable Earl E. Strayhorn, Judge Presiding.

Released for Publication April 19, 1994.

Hartman, Scariano, McCORMICK

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hartman

JUSTICE HARTMAN delivered the opinion of the court:

The State filed this interlocutory appeal pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 604(a)(1) (145 Ill. 2d R. 604(a)(1)), along with a certificate of substantial impairment. The State asserts that the circuit court's order granting defendant's motion to suppress his statement was contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence since defendant's statement was not the product of a coercive atmosphere.

Defendant, Jesse Clemon, was charged with two counts of first degree murder (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, ch. 38, pars. 9-1(a)(1), (a)(2) (now 720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(1), (a)(2) (West 1992))) and one count of unlawful use of a firearm by a felon (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, ch. 38, par. 24-1.1(a) (now 720 ILCS 5/24-1.1(a) (West 1992))) for the shooting death of Alfredo Hernandez. Several codefendants were also charged in the murder.

Defendant's pre-trial motion to suppress his statement, claiming that (1) police physically coerced him into making the statement and (2) a coercive atmosphere existed which rendered the statement involuntary, was granted on the latter ground.

At the hearing on defendant's motion, Detectives James O'Brien and Tony Maslanka, and Officer Edward Maras, of the Chicago Police Department, testified for the State as follows. O'Brien and Maras arrested defendant at 2 a.m. on September 26, 1991, in a first floor apartment at 1501 West 51st Street and transported him to the Area Three police station where O'Brien and Maslanka interrogated him at 2:15 a.m. for 15 to 20 minutes. At 6:15 a.m., O'Brien and Assistant State's Attorney Stevenson again interviewed defendant, who gave them an oral statement. A third interview was conducted at 12:20 p.m. A written statement was signed by defendant with his left hand because, he explained, his right hand was injured during a fight earlier in the week. O'Brien and Stevenson were present when defendant signed his statement. O'Brien, Maras, and Maslanka all denied that defendant was abused while in custody.

Cassandra Clemon, defendant's mother, testified that she was seated in a squad car outside 1501 West 51st Street when defendant was arrested. She accompanied police to that location after they arrested her other two sons at her home. As defendant was being led from the apartment, four or five officers were hitting him with their fists, and one officer was hitting him with a flashlight. Defendant was screaming. The beating lasted five to ten minutes before defendant was placed in a separate squad car. At the police station, Ms. Clemon saw two officers take defendant upstairs. Defendant's hand was injured, but she did not know whether the injury occurred before or after his arrest. As Ms. Clemon was waiting on the first floor, she heard defendant and her other sons "hollering" upstairs. She did not tell anyone about defendant's beating because she did not have time.

Iamari Clemon, defendant's brother, testified that he was also arrested on September 26, 1991. He was placed in a holding cell diagonally across from an interview room where police later placed defendant. Iamari saw shadows through the window of defendant's room, from which he could see police hitting defendant and defendant fall to the floor. He also heard defendant "hollering" and saying, "I didn't do it." Officers later placed Iamari in an interview room where they hit him with their fists for 30 to 40 minutes.

Following Iamari's testimony, defense counsel informed the court that a key defense witness, Myron James, had failed to appear. The court denied defendant's motion to suppress without prejudice and gave defense counsel permission to re-open the motion when Myron appeared.

Myron appeared later and testified that at 11 p.m. on September 25, 1991, he was arrested with Diyez Owens and Steve Taylor and was placed in a squad car, where defendant was also later placed. They were taken to the third floor of Area Three. Iamari, Damoni Clemon, Marcus Wiggins, and Clinton Welton were already there. Using a diagram, Myron showed where the police placed the suspects on the third floor. Initially, Myron was seated on a bench. Defendant was put in an interview room right behind that bench. Steve was handcuffed in a bathroom. Iamari and two unidentified people were in the holding cell. Clinton, Diyez, and Damoni were placed in separate rooms. About 10 to 15 officers were present on the floor as well.

Myron himself was never threatened, hit or electrically shocked by any police officer. During the 12 or 13 hours he was in custody, however, he witnessed the following events. Myron heard Marcus, whom he had known all his life, screaming from a room in the back. Myron saw police at various times take other suspects into defendant's room for a few minutes each. He then heard defendant screaming periodically for about 15 minutes when three or four officers were in his room with the door closed. When defendant emerged from the room, he was limping, holding his stomach, and said "I'm sick." His hand was bandaged. The police placed Myron and defendant in a line-up. Afterwards, Myron was put in the holding cell, and defendant returned to his room with several officers. When the door to defendant's room cracked open, Myron saw an officer writing something.

The holding cell was right next to the room in which Damoni had been placed. Myron saw some officers go into Damoni's room with a black object smaller than a flashlight. They remained there for 15 minutes, during which time Myron heard Damoni screaming. When they came out, Damoni told Myron he had been electrically shocked. Myron saw police beat Clinton for 15 to 20 minutes through the open door to Clinton's room, the only physical beating he witnessed. Clinton was "hollering," and Myron could hear the officers' voices. Myron did ...


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