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May 17, 1995


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable Marcia Orr, Judge Presiding.

The Honorable Justice Tully delivered the opinion of the court: Greiman, P.j., and Rizzi, J., concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Tully

JUSTICE TULLY delivered the opinion of the court:

Defendant, Epifanio Teran-Cruz, was indicted for first degree murder in violation of section 9-1(a)(1) of the Criminal Code of 1961 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, ch. 38, par. 9-1(a)(1) (now 720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(1) (West 1992))) and armed violence in violation of section 33A of the Criminal Code of 1961 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, ch. 38, par. 33A (now 720 ILCS 5/33A (West 1992))). Prior to trial, defendant moved to suppress certain inculpatory statements he made following his arrest. The trial court granted defendant's motion. The State now appeals from the circuit court's order granting the motion to suppress pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 604(a)(1) (134 Ill. 2d R. 604(a)(1)).

For the reasons which follow, we reverse and remand.

Defendant was charged with first degree murder for the stabbing death of Sabino Zamora-Lagunas on September 1, 1991. Prior to trial, defendant filed a motion to suppress statements made after his arrest in which he alleged that law enforcement officers failed to inform him of the right to remain silent and that anything he might say or do could be used against him. Defendant further alleged that he was incapable of appreciating and understanding the full meaning of his Miranda rights since, at the time of the interrogation, he was: suffering from the debilitating effects of injuries sustained to his head and body and the medication given to him for such injuries; lacking in education and familiarity with the American system of justice; and unable to speak the English language. For these reasons, defendant claimed that his statements were not the product of a free and rational choice, nor made voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently. Defendant also claimed that he was led to believe, and in fact did believe, that the law enforcement personnel who questioned him were attorneys there to represent him.

At the hearing on defendant's motion, the parties stipulated that on September 1, 1991, defendant was treated at Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge for blunt trauma to the head and abdomen and acute alcohol intoxication. It was also stipulated that defendant was released to police officers at about 4:30 p.m. on September 2, 1991, and at that time he was alert, responsive and ambulatory. Against this backdrop, the State presented the testimony of United States Immigration and Naturalization Service agent Richard Matt who was called by Prospect Heights detective-sergeant Eric Lundt to advise defendant of his constitutional rights in defendant's native language, Spanish.

Matt testified that he introduced himself to defendant, and after he ascertained that defendant could read Spanish, Matt showed him a copy of the Miranda warnings printed in Spanish and read them aloud. Defendant orally indicated his understanding of each right, then signed a form signifying that understanding, and told Matt that he did not wish to speak to anyone right now. Matt communicated this to Lundt and the interview was terminated.

Lundt corroborated that sequence of events testifying that defendant had been brought to the police station from the hospital, and that Matt conducted a brief interview with defendant. After terminating the interview, defendant was transported to the Arlington Heights police station. Lundt also testified that on September 3, 1991, he contacted the felony review unit of the State's Attorney's office, and met with assistant State's Attorneys Kinnerk and Johnson. The three men then proceeded to the Arlington Heights police station where Lundt spoke with Investigator Hernandez, an Arlington Heights police officer, who was born in the United States of Mexican parentage and who speaks Spanish. Lundt asked Hernandez to translate for Kinnerk and defendant in the interview which followed.

Lundt witnessed that interview and heard Hernandez interpret the Miranda warnings from a police union book being used by Kinnerk and saw him present defendant with a copy of those warnings printed in Spanish. He also saw defendant place his initials to the immediate left of each of the five warnings, sign at the bottom of the form, and print his name directly below his signature. Lundt and Hernandez then signed their names as witnesses.

During his testimony Lundt identified a mugshot photograph of defendant which showed that one of his eyes was discolored. Lundt stated, however, that defendant appeared normal during the interview, and did not have any type of glazed look about his face. Lundt further testified that Hernandez never indicated that defendant wished to have an attorney present, and that none of those involved in the interview process represented himself to defendant as his attorney.

Patrick Kinnerk testified that he is an assistant State's Attorney, who, on September 3, 1991, was assigned to the felony review unit. In that capacity he conducted an interview with defendant at the Arlington Heights police station about 4 p.m. Lundt, Johnson and Hernandez were present for that interview and Hernandez communicated Kinnerk's questions and statements to defendant in Spanish.

Kinnerk stated that when he initially introduced himself to defendant, he told him not to say anything to him, that he was an assistant State's Attorney who worked for Cook County and the police department, and that he was not his attorney. He then told defendant that he did not have to talk with anyone or to him personally, but that if he wanted to, he would talk with him. Defendant indicated, through Hernandez, that he wanted to talk with Kinnerk. At that point, Kinnerk told defendant that he would have to advise him of his rights again, and in response defendant nodded and pointed to Lundt. Kinnerk then advised defendant of his rights from the police union book, and defendant affirmatively indicated his understanding of each right as it was translated by Hernandez. At no time did defendant ask to speak to an attorney, or say that he did not wish to speak with him.

During this interview Kinnerk noticed that defendant had a bruise on his face, and he asked him how he felt and other general questions about his well-being. Assured that defendant was not hungry or in need of attending to any physical concerns, Kinnerk proceeded to the subject matter of the investigation. Kinnerk found defendant alert and cooperative, but anxious in the sense that he wanted to know what was going to happen. Kinnerk testified that no threats or promises were made to defendant, and that defendant did not indicate that he did not understand anything, and that he never told defendant that he was his attorney or that he was there to represent him. On cross-examination, Kinnerk related that he had asked defendant his educational level, and learned that he had gone to the third grade in Mexico. ...

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