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01/25/96 PEOPLE STATE ILLINOIS v. FRANCES MCKINNEY

January 25, 1996

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
FRANCES MCKINNEY, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 91-CR-19270. Honorable Barbara J. Disko, Ronald A. Himel, Judges Presiding.

The Honorable Justice Theis delivered the opinion of the court: Hoffman, P.j., and Cahill, J., concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Theis

The Honorable Justice THEIS delivered the opinion of the court:

The appellant, Frances McKinney ("Frances"), appeals her conviction for first degree murder. At the time of her arrest, Frances was a 17-year-old unwed mother. After Frances gave a detailed confession, police charged her with the murder of her eight-month-old baby, Keenan McKinney. Frances contends that this court should reverse her conviction because the trial court's denial of Frances' motion to quash her arrest and suppress evidence was error, as authorities seized Frances in violation of the fourth amendment. We reverse and remand for further proceedings.

On the afternoon of August 8, 1991, Frances and her baby visited the apartment of her boyfriend, Lorne Johnson ("Johnson"). Appellant's mother, Claudia McKinney, called Frances at Johnson's apartment, requesting that she come home to complete her chores. Prior to leaving, Frances went into Johnson's rest room to fix her hair. The baby was alone with Frances in the rest room. Frances then returned to her mother's home, leaving the baby with Johnson, Johnson's sister Talena and Talena's boyfriend.

Frances completed her chores and returned to Johnson's apartment approximately one-half hour later. Frances spent the evening at Johnson's apartment, leaving the baby in the care of both Johnson and his mother, Mildred Wade, at different points in the evening. Johnson left the apartment in the early evening, returning after midnight. After Johnson arrived home, he instructed Frances to sleep in another room. Frances obliged Johnson's request, leaving the baby with Johnson in his bedroom. On the morning of August 9, 1991, Frances went to wake the baby at Mildred Wade's request. Frances found the baby in Johnson's brother's bed unconscious. The baby was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital, the cause of death unknown.

After asking Johnson and his family to go to the Area 6 police station, Detectives Ryan and Keenan visited Claudia and Frances McKinney. After a brief discussion at the McKinney home, the detectives asked Frances, in an allegedly forceful tone, to accompany them to the police station. Frances agreed and the detectives drove Frances and Claudia to the station in their police car. The detectives did not have a warrant for Frances' arrest. Upon arrival at the station, the police separated Frances and Claudia, taking Frances to an interrogation room.

Frances was in the interrogation room for approximately 21 hours prior to her arrest. Frances claimed that during this time officers questioned her about the baby's death. In contrast to the State's claim that Frances was free to leave, Frances testified that the police used keys to enter and exit the interrogation room and that she had to ask to use the bathroom. In addition, the defense presented unrebutted testimony that the police denied Claudia McKinney's requests to see Frances. Frances slept on the floor of the interrogation room without a pillow or blanket. The parties disagreed as to when Frances was given her Miranda rights. Frances claimed that she felt that she was not free to leave the police station at any time during her stay there.

In response, the State claimed that Frances remained at the station voluntarily to await the autopsy results. The autopsy revealed that the infant suffered numerous internal and external injuries caused by blunt trauma. Past episodes of abuse were also apparent. Confronted with those results, Frances confessed to physically abusing the child while she was in Johnson's bathroom on August 8, 1991. Frances detailed confession was consistent with the injuries found in the autopsy. Armed with probable cause, the police then arrested Frances.

Assistant State's Attorney Shauna Boliker ("Boliker") testified that she interviewed Frances on August 11, 1991, at approximately 1:45 a.m. Approximately 34 hours after arriving at the police station, Frances signed the written confession prepared by Boliker. Boliker testified that Frances never complained about the behavior of the police and stated that no one offered her anything in exchange for her confession.

Frances was indicted for first degree murder. Frances brought a motion to quash her arrest and suppress her confession, which the trial court denied. The trial court rejected Frances' claim that she was illegally detained. Frances was found guilty of first degree murder. On appeal, Frances contends that she was seized in violation of the fourth amendment. We agree.

Frances contends that she was unlawfully detained when the police escorted her from her home. Alternatively, Frances argues that her detention at the police station constituted an unlawful arrest. Therefore, Frances argues, the trial court should have suppressed the evidence of her confession.

Upon review, we must uphold the trial court's determination that no illegal arrest occurred unless the ruling was manifestly erroneous. ( People v. Graham (1991), 214 Ill. App. 3d 798, 573 N.E.2d 1346, 158 Ill. Dec. 161.) "We will consider as true only the testimony of the police officers, except where defendant's testimony was unrebutted, so as not to substitute our judgment for that of the trial court on issues of credibility." People v. Young (1990), 206 Ill. App. 3d 789, 800, 564 N.E.2d 1254, 1262, 151 Ill. Dec. 592, citing People v. Dowdell (1980), 81 Ill. App. 3d 266, 268, 401 N.E.2d 295, 296, 36 Ill. Dec. 614.

To quash an arrest, Frances must show both that a seizure occurred and that it was illegal. ( Graham, 214 Ill. App. 3d 798, 573 N.E.2d 1346, 158 Ill. Dec. 161.) A person is seized in violation of the fourth amendment if a reasonable person would have believed, in light of all circumstances, that she was not free to leave. ( People v. Stofer (1989), 180 Ill. App. 3d 158, 534 N.E.2d 1287, 128 Ill. Dec. 682.) In determining whether a reasonable person would believe she was free to leave, a court must look to all the circumstances surrounding ...


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