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People v. Williams

February 16, 1999


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice McNULTY

Honorable James M. Schreier, Judge Presiding.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County.

Following a bench trial, defendant Anthony Williams was convicted of first degree murder and armed robbery and sentenced to 38 years' imprisonment for first degree murder and a concurrent sentence of 30 years' imprisonment for armed robbery. Defendant appeals, claiming that his statements should have been suppressed because he was arrested without probable cause and because his statements were the product of coercion. We affirm.

Prior to defendant's trial, a hearing was held on defendant's motions to suppress his statements. Detective John Halloran testified that, after the body of Louis Jackson, the victim, was found on October 10, 1994, he learned that defendant was the victim's friend and had been arrested with him in the past. On the evening of October 11, 1994, Detective Halloran and his partner, Detective Budroe, interviewed defendant in a police car outside defendant's home at 6434 South Hoyne in Chicago and asked him if he had any information about the victim's murder.

The 17-year-old defendant told the detectives that he had been with the victim at 63rd and Hamilton playing dice until about 3 a.m. on the morning of October 10, 1994. Defendant stated that the victim had between $100 and $150 and seven bags of marijuana on him when they left the game and returned to defendant's home to get something to eat. Defendant told the detectives that at about 4 a.m., while defendant was cooking in the kitchen, someone knocked at the front window and called the victim outside in order to purchase some marijuana from the victim. The victim left, leaving his leather jacket, and never returned. Defendant told police that he still had the victim's jacket at his home.

Following their conversation with defendant, Detectives Halloran and Budroe spoke with the victim's mother, Marie Moore, at 6439 South Winchester. Moore told the detectives that defendant had come to see her on October 10, 1994, claiming to be her son's best friend. Defendant told her he was leaving town right away and offered to give her money. Moore did not believe defendant because he looked down and did not look her in the face. Moore told the detectives that she had never met defendant before. Defendant did not tell Moore about the dice game or the leather jacket.

Detective Edward Schmidt testified that he was assigned to the case on October 10, 1994, and went to the scene and to the victim's home. He was approached by a black man who would not give his name and said he did not want to get involved, but told the detective that he arrived at defendant's home at 2:30 a.m. and was let in by a boy named Rico. The victim, defendant, Rico's mother and someone named Gina were there. The victim left after an hour. Defendant left to find the victim but was unsuccessful. The man reported that defendant said he went to visit the victim's mother because he felt so bad about the victim.

Detectives William Moser and Albert Graf took over the murder investigation late on the evening of October 13, 1994, and went to defendant's home shortly after midnight on October 14. Detective Moser testified that a woman let them into the home, after they explained that they wished to speak with defendant since he was the victim's best friend. The woman directed them to a basement sleeping area where, according to Detective Moser, they found defendant sitting on a couch. Defendant Moser asked defendant if he would come to Area One to talk about the victim, and defendant agreed. The detectives did not have their guns drawn, and defendant was not handcuffed or restrained. Defendant rode in the back of the police car. Detective Moser testified that, when officers go to a home to make an arrest, six officers are usually present. Here, only two officers went to defendant's home.

Detective Moser testified that they arrived at Area One at about 1 a.m. on October 14, 1994. Defendant was seated unrestrained in the large roll call room and was given some coffee. The detectives asked defendant about the last time that he had seen the victim. Defendant gave the detectives the same information he had given to Detective Halloran but stated that he no longer had the victim's jacket. Defendant said that he told his brother Theodore to get rid of it. Defendant also said that Theodore let him in when he returned home with the victim after the dice game.

The detectives left defendant in the roll call room, not handcuffed, with the door open and with people going in and out, and went to speak with defendant's brother, Theodore Williams. Defendant was told neither that he was free to leave nor that he was not free to leave. Theodore told the detectives that on the night of the murder he was sleeping in the basement and did not hear his brother come in. He also did not hear any pounding at the front door, although he said if someone had been pounding, he would have awakened and investigated. Theodore said that his brother told him to get rid of the leather jacket. Because the jacket was dirty, Theodore put it in the garbage behind the house.

After searching unsuccessfully for the victim's leather jacket in the garbage, Detectives Moser and Graf returned to Area One and spoke to defendant again. Defendant was asked to take them to the site of the game. Defendant sat in the back seat of the car and directed Detective Moser to a home at 64th and Hamilton a quarter to a third of a block from where the victim's body was found and very close to defendant's home at 64th and Hoyne. Upon returning to Area One, the detectives told defendant what his brother Theodore had said regarding his disposal of the victim's jacket and about not hearing or seeing the victim at his home the night of the murder. Defendant claimed that his brother must have been mistaken because defendant had told his brother to take the jacket to work and sell it. Detective Moser testified that the victim had seven bags of marijuana in his hand when the body was discovered, and defendant had told Detective Halloran that the victim had seven bags of marijuana on him the night of the murder. At 6 a.m., on October 14, 1994, Detective Moser placed defendant under arrest and advised him of his constitutional rights.

Detective Moser testified that he then asked defendant to take a polygraph exam. Defendant agreed to take the test and arrangements were made for defendant to take it on October 14, 1994, during the day shift. Defendant failed the polygraph test.

Detective Graf testified that at 3:30 p.m., on October 14, after he learned the results of the polygraph test, he located people defendant had said were present at the dice game. Detective Graf interviewed these people at the police station. At some point on the 14th, defendant was placed in a locked detection room. After each interview with the seven participants of the dice game, Detective Graf checked with defendant. Detective Graf testified that during this time defendant was given sandwiches, coffee, and cigarettes.

Detectives Moser and Graf went off duty earlier in the morning of October 15, and returned in the afternoon of the 16th. At 10 p.m. on the 16th, Detectives Graf and Moser again interviewed defendant after giving him his constitutional rights. Defendant, after being confronted with inconsistencies between what he had previously told police and what they had learned from others, told the detectives that he now wished to tell the truth and told the detectives about his involvement in the murder. ...

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