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People v. Burnfield

March 27, 1998


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Monroe County. No. 96-CF-85 Honorable Jerry D. Flynn, Judge, presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Rarick


James F. Burnfield was convicted in the circuit court of Monroe County with one count of aggravated kidnapping and two counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault, all arising out of an attack on H.D. Prior to trial, Burnfield filed a motion to suppress a confession, arguing that he had requested an attorney but the police refused to make one available and continued to question him in spite of his request for an attorney. A hearing was held on January 21, 1997. According to Deputy Dennis Schrader, one of the arresting officers, when Burnfield was arrested, he was advised that he was suspected of kidnapping and rape. He was also read his Miranda rights (Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 16 L. Ed. 2d 694, 86 S. Ct. 1602 (1996)). According to Schrader, Burnfield stated, "If I'm going to be charged with rape[,] maybe I should talk to an attorney." The officers asked no more questions. At the Conclusion of Schrader's testimony, both the State and defense counsel stipulated that Officer Michael Douglas, the other arresting officer, would testify as Schrader had. Later that day Sheriff Kelley spoke with Burnfield at the Monroe County jail. After again being informed of his Miranda rights, Kelley began questioning Burnfield. At no time did Burnfield ask that the questioning be stopped or that he be allowed to speak with an attorney. At one point Burnfield said, "Maybe I should talk to an attorney." Kelley responded by telling Burnfield that he probably should talk to an attorney because he was facing serious charges. After a brief period of silence during which Kelley began to gather some papers, Burnfield said, "I didn't even have sex," and continued the conversation. Kelly then proceeded with the interrogation.

The trial court denied Burnfield's motion to suppress, finding that he did not make an unequivocal demand for counsel and that even if he had, he voluntarily continued the conversation with police after they had stopped questioning him.

Burnfield also testified at the hearing. He denied using the word "maybe" and said that he told the officers very specifically that he should have a lawyer and that if they were trying to charge him with rape, he did not want to talk to them.

At trial, Bonnie Hoffman testified that she and her husband, James, lived in Waterloo, Illinois, across a highway from a cornfield, approximately one quarter of a mile from the Monroe County Fairgrounds. At about 12:30 or 1 a.m. on the morning of August 3, 1996, she heard the doorbell ring and went to answer it. At the door she found a young woman who was naked, with her hair tousled and her lip swollen with a cut. The woman, who identified herself as H.D., was frightened and said, "hey are trying to kill me." Her eyes were red and her hands and fingernails were dirty. While James called the police, Hoffman obtained a sheet for H.D. to cover herself.

Michael Douglas, a Waterloo police officer, testified that on August 3, 1996, he was dispatched to the Hoffman residence. When he arrived, he found H.D. sitting in a chair in the living room. She was crying hysterically and her face was bloodied and dirty. H.D. told Douglas that "some people" had attacked her and that she had been taken from the fairgrounds by "three or four guys" to a wooded area.

Susanne Sweet, also a Waterloo police officer, was dispatched to the Hoffman residence to assist Douglas. Sweet found H.D. seated on a chair and wrapped in a sheet. H.D. was bloody and bruised and had a cut lip. She was covered with dirt and leaves and was crying. Sweet repeatedly asked H.D. what had happened, but H.D. made little response. Sweet then asked H.D. if she had been raped, and H.D. indicated that she had. H.D. indicated that she did not know who attacked her, but she described him as being thin with brown hair and a moustache. She also remembered hearing the name "Shotzy." Sweet testified that "Shotzy" was a nickname for a man named Brian Weltig, whom she described as being thin with brown hair and a moustache. During the ambulance ride to the hospital, H.D. told Sweet that there were about three people involved but that only one had actually struck her and raped her. Sweet also stated that she could smell liquor on H.D.'s breath.

Sergeant James Trantham of the Waterloo Police Department testified that he was on duty at the Monroe County Fair on the night of August 2, 1996. At approximately 11:30 p.m. Trantham encountered Burnfield. At Trantham's request, Burnfield showed Trantham his driver's license, which he produced from his wallet. After speaking with Burnfield for a few minutes, Trantham escorted him to the east side of the fairgrounds near the ferris wheel and told him to leave. Trantham watched as Burnfield walked past the fairgrounds into the dark.

Robert Young, a deputy with the Monroe County Sheriff's Department and the unit's canine handler, testified that around 1:40 a.m. on August 3, 1996, he was called to assist the Waterloo Police Department in searching the roads and fields adjacent to the Monroe County Fairgrounds for a possible crime scene. At around 2:50 a.m. the dog located a wallet and comb. The area was secured and a crime-scene technician was called.

Patricia Young, a crime-scene investigator for the Illinois State Police, testified that in the early morning of August 3, 1996, she was called to Waterloo to examine a crime scene. She noted that cornstalks had been knocked down in two areas, about 10 feet apart. The wallet located by Deputy Young contained an Illinois driver's license with the name James F. Burnfield, two social security cards (one of which bore the name of James F. Burnfield), two credit cards, some photographs and business cards, and a grocery store customer card with the signature "J.J. Burnfield" on the back.

Later that day Jackson spoke with H.D. at H.D.'s home. H.D.'s eyes were swollen and discolored, as was the left side of her face. She had discoloration and scratch marks on her back and on both arms, bruises and discoloration on her knees, and a human bite mark on the right side of her abdomen. Jackson also searched Burnfield's residence. There she found a pair of blue jeans and a striped shirt, both of which were damp and covered with mud. The shirt also had what appeared to be blood on the front.

Sheriff Kelly testified that he questioned Burnfield on the afternoon of August 3, 1996, at the Monroe County jail. Present at the time was Deputy Schrader. When asked if he had had any contact with a woman at the fair, Burnfield indicated that the only woman he had spoken with had a name tag that read "Angie." He was subsequently ejected from the fair by a couple of police officers. He then left, walking east along Highway 156 toward Waterloo, where he lived. He went through a cornfield, across the cemetery, and to his apartment. The route Burnfield described was in the vicinity of the crime scene the police had investigated. When Kelly asked Burnfield where his wallet was, Burnfield stated that it was in his apartment. When Kelly informed Burnfield that it had been found at the crime scene on top of the victim's clothes, Burnfield hesitated and then said, "I didn't even have sex." Burnfield then stated that he had met a young lady walking along the highway, that she was crying, and that they agreed to go into the cornfield and have sex. She changed her mind and he struck her. He then got up and went home.

H.D. testified that she attended the Monroe County Fair on August 2, 1996, with two friends. She drank several beers prior to going to the fair and drank a beer at the fair. When she became separated from her friends, she left the fair and walked along Highway 156 toward Waterloo, where her car was parked. Shortly after beginning her walk, she was grabbed from behind by a man, was dragged into a cornfield, and was repeatedly bit on the hand and stomach. When asked whether she could see her attacker, H.D. testified that it was dark and she described the man as thin with a moustache and black or dark hair. H.D. never saw more than one attacker and was unsure why she thought there had been more than one. Her attacker ordered her to remove her shirt and bra and then pulled off her jeans and underwear. While holding her on the ground, he placed his penis in her mouth, bit her abdomen, and placed his penis in her vagina. H.D. was able to free herself and ran to a nearby house. The woman there gave her a sheet to cover herself and ...

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