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04/19/94 W.C. v. W.C.

April 19, 1994


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable Lynne Kawamoto, Judge Presiding.

DiVito, Hartman, Scariano

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Divito

Presiding Justice DiVito delivered the opinion of the court:

Following a hearing pursuant to the Juvenile Court Act, respondent W.C., a fourteen-year-old minor, was adjudicated a delinquent for his involvement in the killing of Carey "Skip" Long and committed to the custody of the Department of Corrections. On appeal, respondent contends that (1) the circuit court erroneously denied his motion to suppress; (2) he was not proved accountable for murder beyond a reasonable doubt; (3) the circuit court improperly found him delinquent for two counts of first degree murder where only one person was killed; and (4) the circuit court abused its discretion in committing him to the custody of the Department of Corrections.

On June 1, 1992, a petition was filed pursuant to the Juvenile Court Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, ch. 37, par. 805-13, now codified as 705 ILCS 405/5-13 (West 1992)), alleging that respondent was delinquent because on May 28, 1992, he shot and killed Carey Long in the face and back, knowing that such act would cause death (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, ch. 38, par. 9-1(a)(1), now codified as 720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(1) (West 1992)) and that such act created a strong probability of death (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, ch. 38, par. 9-1(a)(2) now codified as 720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(2) (West 1992)). The pretrial social investigation report determined that respondent had three prior referrals to juvenile court: for aggravated battery, possession of a stolen motor vehicle, and disorderly conduct. Each of those charges was stricken with leave to reinstate. The report also disclosed that he had three station adjustments: for driving without consent when he was 10 years old, shoplifting, and racial mob action. The pretrial psychological evaluation determined that respondent's IQ was 47, but the psychologist believed that the score was artificially low as a result of the trauma of being detained. The psychologist did conclude, however, that respondent had the emotional maturity of a six or seven-year-old child. The State sought to prosecute respondent as an adult, but the circuit court denied the motion.

At the adjudicatory hearing, the following evidence was presented. Emma Coleman testified that her son Carey Long was 29 years old when he died on May 28, 1992. She also stated that he was known as "Skip."

Officer Steven Gale of the Chicago police department testified that on May 28, 1992, at approximately 8 p.m., he received a radio report that a man had been shot at 5447 South Indiana in Chicago. When he arrived at the scene, he observed Long "sprawled in the back lot." Long appeared to be in serious need of medical attention because his face and one of his arms were covered with blood. He also noticed that Long's pants pockets were turned inside out.

Assistant State's Attorney Diann Sheridan testified that at about 7 p.m. on May 30, 1992, she spoke with respondent and his mother for approximately one-half hour in an interview room at the police station. Youth officer D. Hall and Detective Joseph Fine were also in the interview room. After she advised respondent of his Miranda rights, he agreed to waive those rights and speak with her. She then took the following written statement from defendant in her own handwriting:

"After being advised of his Constitutional rights, and stating he understood each of those rights, and after being advised that he did not have to talk to [Sheridan] and also understanding that Diann Sheridan was an Assistant State's Attorney, a lawyer and prosecutor and not his lawyer, [respondent] agreed to give a truthful account of what happened on May 28th, 1992.

[Respondent] states that he is 13 years old and goes to Libby school. [Respondent] states that he can understand English but cannot read very well. [Respondent] agrees to have his mother, Geraldine Collins, read him this statement so he can understand it.

[Respondent] understands that he will be going to juvenile court and a Judge then will decide whether he should go to adult court. [Respondent] states that his nickname is Bey. [Respondent] states on May 28th, 1992 at around 8:00 at night, he was at 5447 South Indiana [in] Chicago. [Respondent] states that Pooh-pooh, also known as Othineo Lucas[,] had hidden his drugs at an abandoned building. [Respondent] states that a man, Skip, had gone into the building and took Pooh-pooh's drugs. [Respondent] states that Pooh-pooh had a gun also in the building and Pooh-pooh went to get the gun when he found out the man, Skip, had taken his drugs. [Respondent] states that Pooh-pooh said he was going to kill the man for taking his drugs. [Respondent] states he was with Juan Hodges and they each picked up a stick and hit the man who took the drugs. [Respondent] states he hit the man in the arm and Juan hit him in the head[,] but the stick broke. [Respondent] states that Pooh-pooh came out of the building with the gun and shot the man. [Respondent] states he heard the gun go off four times. [Respondent] states he and Juan and Pooh-pooh all ran away.

[Respondent] states that no one threatened him or promised him anything. [Respondent] states that he was asked if he needed to go to the bathroom but didn't have to go. [Respondent] states that he doesn't use any drugs or drink alcohol. [Respondent] understands that he can add anything or change anything by asking Diann Sheridan or his mother, Geraldine Collins, to do so now. [Respondent] states that there were two other people with Skip. [Respondent] states that Pooh-pooh shot four times at Skip while Skip was running away. [Respondent] states that Pooh-pooh then fired some shots at the other two people."

Each person in the interview room signed each page of the statement.

Following Sheridan's testimony, the parties stipulated that the medical examiner, Dr. Konacki, would testify that the cause of Long's death was a gunshot wound to the back.

After the State and respondent both rested, the circuit court found that the State had satisfied its burden on both counts of the petition, but noted that they "merged for one count of delinquency." Following a Dispositional hearing, the court found that it was in respondent's best interests that he be adjudicated a ward of the court. The court also stated that he was a danger to the community and committed him to the custody of the Department of Corrections in order to protect the public's safety. This appeal followed.

Respondent first contends that the circuit court's finding that he knowingly and intelligently waived his Miranda rights when he made the statement to Assistant State's Attorney Sheridan was manifestly erroneous. He asserts that because of his limited mental ability, he was unable to grasp the meaning of the warnings, and therefore could not possibly provide a knowing and intelligent waiver. The State responds that respondent has waived this issue by failing to include it in his post-trial motion. In the alternative, the State maintains that the court's determination was correct because respondent was ...

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