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09/30/94 PEOPLE STATE ILLINOIS v. MELVIN BURNETT

September 30, 1994

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
MELVIN BURNETT, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



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

Petition for Leave to Appeal Denied February 1, 1995.

Tully, Rizzi, Greiman

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Tully

PRESIDING JUSTICE TULLY delivered the opinion of the court:

Defendant, Melvin Burnett, was charged by indictment with four counts of murder, armed robbery, attempt armed robbery, conspiracy to commit armed robbery and armed violence. After a bench trial, defendant was convicted as charged with the exception of an acquittal on the charge of armed robbery. Subsequently, defendant was sentenced to 80 years' imprisonment for the four murder counts, 15 years' imprisonment for attempt armed robbery, 7 years' imprisonment for conspiracy and 15 years imprisonment for armed violence, all terms to run concurrently. Defendant appeals to this court from the judgment of conviction pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 603 (134 Ill. 2d R. 603).

For the reasons which follow, we affirm and remand.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

On August 21, 1980, Carl Stohn was shot to death in the area of 950 North La Salle Street in Chicago. Defendant along with Billy Martin, a co-defendant, were indicted for the crime as indicated above. Martin is not a party to this appeal.

Prior to trial, defendant filed a motion to suppress certain statements after his arrest on November 15, 1980, made to the police and an assistant State's attorney. Defense counsel contended that defendant did not possess the requisite mental ability to make a voluntary, knowing and intelligent waiver of his rights under Miranda. Accordingly, the trial court held a suppression hearing at which detectives Clay Steen, John Bittenbinder and Thomas Sappanos of the Chicago police department and assistant State's attorney Paula DaLeo testified as to the circumstances of their conversations with defendant.

Bittenbinder recounted that he read defendant his Miranda rights from a sign on the wall of the interview room in the police station. After defendant said that he understood his rights, Bittenbinder questioned defendant about the shooting with no else present. Bittenbinder testified that he did not threaten or harass defendant during their conversation, and stated that defendant did not appear to be afraid during the interview or comport himself in an unusual way.

Following Bittenbinder's interrogation of defendant, DaLeo was called in to assist. DaLeo had three conversations with defendant about the shooting of Carl Stohn. The first interview took place at the police station in the presence of Sappanos. DaLeo questioned defendant about 10 to 15 minutes after she read him his Miranda rights.

Shortly after DaLeo's first interview with defendant, she had a second conversation with him in the presence of Sappanos, Bittenbinder and a detective O'Leary. The second interview took place at the crime scene and lasted 10 to 15 minutes.

Finally, DaLeo had a third conversation with defendant at the police station in the presence of Sappanos and a court reporter. The court reporter transcribed a statement by defendant and DaLeo gave it to him.

Sappanos testified that defendant was cooperative and did not appear to be nervous. Sappanos was present when defendant was given the statement prepared by the court reporter to read. Sappanos stated that he viewed defendant signing the ...


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