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May 4, 1995



Presiding Justice Hoffman delivered the opinion of the court: S. O'brien, J., concurs. Justice Cahill, dissenting.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hoffman

PRESIDING JUSTICE HOFFMAN delivered the opinion of the court:

Ricky Hill was indicted on three counts of first degree murder and one count of robbery for the death of Edwin Nowak. On March 27, 1992, after a second trial, a jury convicted Hill of first degree murder and robbery. The court sentenced him to 32 years in prison for murder and a concurrent sentence of seven years for robbery. The defendant now appeals and we address the following issues: (1) whether the trial court erred by not suppressing a statement which resulted from the detention and interrogation of a citizen when the State conceded that probable cause to arrest did not exist until the defendant implicated himself in the crime; (2) whether the trial court erred in admitting other crimes evidence; and (3) whether Hill's sentence was excessive. We affirm.

Hill filed a pre-trial motion to suppress a statement he made to the police on January 19, 1990. At the hearing on the motion, Chicago Police Officers Anthony Wojcik and Diego Flores testified that while on patrol at around 1 p.m. on January 18, 1990, some 19 months after the crime, they saw Hill walking on north Hoyne Street in Chicago. At the time, the officers had information that Hill knew something about the robbery and murder of Edwin Nowak.

Wojcik and Flores testified that Hill, whom they knew, approached their squad car when they called out to him. Hill told them that he knew nothing about the robbery. Both officers testified that Hill agreed to ride with them to the 14th district station to talk with detectives. The officers testified that they did not handcuff or search Hill.

Chicago Police Detectives Bernard Brennan and John Boyle testified that they went to the 14th district station on January 18, 1990, after learning from Officer Wojcik that he had located a witness to a homicide. Detective Brennan testified that they arrived at the 14th district station between 2 and 2:30 p.m. and talked briefly with Hill. In this conversation, Hill described a homicide he had seen. Brennan and Boyle testified that they were unfamiliar with the circumstances of the homicide Hill said he witnessed, which required a return to Area Five headquarters to research the case.

Brennan and Boyle testified that Hill agreed to accompany them to Area Five and they transported him in their squad car at about 2:30 p.m. At Area Five, Brennan and Boyle located a file with incidents similar to those Hill described at the 14th district station. Brennan and Boyle testified that at no time was Hill handcuffed. They spoke to Hill in an interview room for about an hour.

Brennan testified that Hill's account contained "minor discrepancies." Hill agreed to take a polygraph test at police headquarters. As there was no available test time until the next day, January 19, Brennan told Hill "that nothing was going to be accomplished that evening, and *** we were going to have to do it tomorrow; at which time [Hill] became concerned that members of the gangs or the defendant -- who he was describing as the defendant would find out that he was talking to police and would anyway attempt to harm him." Boyle testified that Hill "indicated to my partner and myself that he was somewhat fearful about going back into the 14th district as far as he might become the victim of a gang retaliation."

Brennan testified that he told Hill he could stay overnight at Area Five, but must ask permission to leave the interview room so as not to disrupt ongoing investigations at the station. Brennan explained that he excluded the reason for Hill's overnight stay from his case report -- a fear of retaliation -- because he considered the information irrelevant to the investigation.

Brennan and Boyle testified that Hill ate sandwiches purchased at about 6 p.m. Brennan described the interview room as 12 by 10 feet with a bench, table, chairs, and a metal ring on the wall above the bench. He also testified that he told the sergeant in charge that "a witness, not an offender" planned to stay the night in one of the interview rooms.

Brennan and Boyle testified that, to the best of their knowledge, no one read Miranda rights, coerced Hill, or prohibited him from using a washroom or telephone. They further testified that when they left Area Five on the evening of January 18, 1990, Hill was seated in the unlocked interview room, neither handcuffed nor under arrest, and free to leave at any time.

Brennan returned to Area Five shortly after 8 a.m. on January 19, 1990, and found Hill in the interview room. He and a Detective Schak testified that after conversations with Hill, the Nowak investigation focused on a man named Darryl Washington. Brennan testified that police brought Washington to the station. He also testified that only he and Detectives Boyle, Smitka, and Schak had contact with Hill and Washington, and that no one told Hill of Washington's presence or the substance of conversations with Washington.

Detective Smitka testified that he arrived at Area Five at 8 a.m. and learned that Hill spent the night at the station at his own request. Smitka testified that his work on the Nowak case involved Washington. He testified that he did not mistreat Hill, Hill did not ask to leave the station, and Hill had no marks or injury on his body.

Detective Schak testified that he saw Hill for the first time around noon on January 19, having heard from Detective Brennan that a potential witness to a year-old homicide spent the night at the station. Brennan testified that around noon, Hill changed his story slightly. Schak testified that Brennan pointed out that some of Hill's statements were inconsistent. The inconsistent statements led the detectives to broaden the investigation to include Hill as a suspect rather than a witness, and Schak read Hill Miranda rights. Schak then placed Hill under arrest. Brennan and Schak testified that Hill understood his rights and ...

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