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06/30/95 PEOPLE STATE ILLINOIS v. FRANK ROBINSON

June 30, 1995

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
FRANK ROBINSON AND ANDRE HAWTHORNE, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable Gerald Rohrer, Judge Presiding.

The Honorable Justice Rakowski delivered the opinion of the court: McNAMARA, P.j., and Egan, J., concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rakowski

JUSTICE RAKOWSKI delivered the opinion of the court:

Defendants Frank Robinson, age 16, and Andre Hawthorne, age 19, were found guilty in a joint bench trial of murder and concealment of a homicidal death. Hawthorne was also found guilty of armed violence. The trial court sentenced both defendants to consecutive terms of imprisonment. In this consolidated appeal, defendants raise the following issues: (1) whether the trial court erred in denying Robinson's motion to suppress his confession on the basis it was made involuntarily; (2) whether the court erred in sentencing both Robinson and Hawthorne to consecutive sentences; and (3) whether Robinson is entitled to 1282 days credit against his term of imprisonment for time spent in custody on an unrelated offense. We affirm in part and reverse in part and remand with directions.

On July 15, 1986, police officers discovered Glen Johnson's dead body stuffed in a duffel bag in a dumpster in Skokie, Illinois. He had been beaten and shot with a .32 caliber gun. Upon learning Johnson lived with Carolyn Hawthorne, defendants' mother, investigating detectives Jones and Silverberg questioned Carolyn, and exposed her to a polygraph examination. During interrogation, she implicated her sons in Johnson's murder. The detectives, along with Carolyn, then went to Carolyn's apartment in order to talk to her son Robinson about the murder of Johnson. The detectives, in the presence of Carolyn, advised Robinson of his Miranda rights. Robinson agreed to talk to the detectives after his mother told him to "tell the truth" or "tell what happened."

Robinson told the detectives that on July 13, 1986, Johnson and Carolyn had been fighting again. Robinson claimed he and Hawthorne were concerned about the physical well-being of Carolyn, and, as a result, beat Johnson until he was unconscious, covered him with bags, and threw him in the trunk of a car. With Johnson in the car trunk, defendants drove to Skokie where they deposited Johnson's body in a dumpster. They closed the lid of the dumpster and drove across the street to a service station. Hawthorne ran back to the dumpster with a .32 caliber gun and shot Johnson. He returned to the car and told Robinson "it was done." There was a four to six-hour time period in between the beating at the apartment and the dumping of the body. During that time, Johnson's body remained in the car trunk.

The interview with Robinson which revealed the aforementioned facts lasted about fifteen minutes. At the end of the statement, Robinson was taken to the police station where he gave a court-reported statement to an Assistant State's Attorney (ASA). The ASA interviewed Robinson in the presence of his mother and read him his Miranda rights. Robinson stated he understood his rights and signed a waiver to that effect. In the court-reported statement, Robinson gave a more detailed account of the killing of Johnson and concealment of his death.

The detectives then flew to El Paso, Texas to interview Hawthorne. Hawthorne gave both an oral and written statement which related a similar version of events that occurred on July 13, 1986. Hawthorne was extradited, and both he and Robinson were indicted for murder, concealment of a homicidal death, and armed violence.

The trial court found both defendants guilty of the murder of Johnson and concealment of a homicidal death, and also found Hawthorne guilty of armed violence. The trial court sentenced Robinson to consecutive terms of imprisonment of 22 years for murder and 2 years for concealment. Hawthorne also received consecutive sentences of 27 years for murder and 3 years for concealment. Both defendants appeal, arguing the court erred in imposing consecutive sentences for murder and concealment of a homicidal death. Robinson also contends the court erred in denying his motion to suppress his statement, and in denying him in-custody credit of 1282 days.

Robinson first argues the court erred in denying the motion to suppress his confession on the basis it was made involuntarily. In order for a confession to be admissible at trial, it must be made freely, voluntarily, and without compulsion or inducement. ( People v. Patterson (1992), 154 Ill. 2d 414, 445, 610 N.E.2d 16, 182 Ill. Dec. 592.) Although special care must be taken to ensure the confession of a juvenile defendant is voluntary, statements made by juveniles are subjected to the same "totality of the circumstances" standard as those made by adults. ( People v. M.S. (1993), 247 Ill. App. 3d 1074, 1088, 618 N.E.2d 623, 188 Ill. Dec. 53.) This standard considers all relevant circumstances surrounding the statement, including the existence of any promises, threats, or physical coercions; the receipt of Miranda warnings; the duration of questioning; the age, intelligence, and education of defendant; and the presence of a parent or youth officer. People v. Denton (1993), 256 Ill. App. 3d 403, 406, 628 N.E.2d 900, 195 Ill. Dec. 436; People v. Lash (1993), 252 Ill. App. 3d 239, 243, 624 N.E.2d 1129, 191 Ill. Dec. 751.

We find that the totality of the circumstances show Robinson's confession was voluntary. When the police detectives arrived at Robinson's apartment, they introduced themselves, and told Robinson they wanted to talk to him about the murder of Johnson. They advised Robinson of his Miranda rights, which he indicated he understood. Carolyn, who was present during the interview, told Robinson that the detectives already knew what happened to Johnson, and told him to "tell the truth" or "tell what happened." Robinson thereafter made an oral statement which lasted less than fifteen minutes. During this time, he was not handcuffed or restrained in anyway. He was never abused, threatened, or promised anything by the detectives or Carolyn. Robinson was 16 years old at the time of his confession, had completed his first year in high school, and displayed no difficulty communicating with the detectives.

We reject Robinson's contention that his confession was involuntarily made and should have been suppressed because his mother Carolyn, acting in cooperation with police, induced him to "tell the truth" or "tell what happened" to Johnson. The cases Robinson cites in support, People v. Britz (1984), 128 Ill. App. 3d 29, 470 N.E.2d 1059, 83 Ill. Dec. 639, and People v. Stone (1978), 61 Ill. App. 3d 654, 378 N.E.2d 263, 18 Ill. Dec. 799, are factually inapposite. Here, Carolyn was a mother, not an agent of law enforcement. The police did not ask her to get Robinson to confess, or instruct her to direct Robinson to answer the questions. They did not make her promises or threaten her own arrest in the absence of Robinson's confession. Further, Carolyn expressed genuine concern for her son's welfare, saying she did not want anything bad to happen to him, and the record indicates they had a close relationship. In addition, there is no evidence Robinson ever asked for an attorney or a disinterested advisor other than his mother to be present, or objected to the presence of his mother at the interview. Therefore, the trial court's finding that Robinson's statement was voluntarily made is not contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence.

Next, both defendants Robinson and Hawthorne contend the trial court abused its discretion in giving them consecutive rather than concurrent sentences for murder and concealment of a homicidal death. They argue their sentences violated sections 5-8-4(a) and (b) of the Unified Code of Corrections (Code) (730 ILCS 5/5-8-4(a), (b) (West 1992)).

Pursuant to section 5-8-4(a) of the Code, defendants contend the court erred in imposing consecutive sentences because the offenses were committed as part of a "single course of conduct." Section 5-8-4(a) prohibits consecutive sentences for "offenses which were committed as part of a single course of conduct during which there was no substantial change in the nature of the criminal objective." (730 ILCS 5/5-8-4(a).) "The term 'conduct' refers to an act or series of acts and the accompanying mental state. [Citation.] Accordingly, *** the imposition of consecutive sentences depends upon both the existence of separate acts and separate motivation behind those acts." ...


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