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People v. Jackson

March 12, 1999


Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 10th Judicial Circuit, Peoria County, Illinois No. 97--CF--12 Honorable Robert A. Barnes, Judge Presiding

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Lytton


Following a jury trial, defendant Johnny Jackson was convicted of unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon (720 ILCS 5/24--1.1(a) (West 1996)) and sentenced to eight years' imprisonment. Defendant appeals, arguing that (1) the court erred in restricting evidence that defendant's confession was a product of police coercion; and (2) his sentence was an abuse of discretion. We affirm.


Prior to trial, defendant moved to suppress his confession on grounds that he did not receive proper Miranda warnings and his statements to the police were coerced. The trial court denied the motion, finding that defendant knowingly waived his Miranda rights and his statements were voluntary.

At trial, the State's case-in-chief consisted of the testimony of two eyewitnesses and the Peoria Police detective who took defendant's confession.

Dorothy Martin testified that she was defendant's girlfriend in December 1996. She shared an apartment with Kesha Washington. On the evening of December 30, 1996, Martin and Washington left their apartment with three young men to procure marijuana. They encountered a group of people, including defendant, that had gathered in the neighborhood. The women returned to their apartment.

Later that night, defendant arrived at the apartment. Eddie Walton, a friend of defendant, subsequently pulled up in a truck outside the apartment. Martin told defendant to tell Walton to leave the area. Defendant left. When he returned, he told Martin of a shooting in the neighborhood. Defendant told Martin that he was not involved in the shooting and told her to smell his gun, an automatic, to satisfy herself that it had not been fired. Dorothy testified that she was knowledgeable about guns and could tell from the smell that the gun had not been used.

The next morning, defendant went outside momentarily and tracked leaves on the floor when he came back in. Later, as she was making the bed they had slept in, Martin found another handgun, a revolver, wrapped in a sock under the bed. Defendant told her it was "dirty" and opened the gun to show her that it had one bullet missing. Martin said this gun was small and shiny, black or brown. She did not know what happened to the gun after that.

Kesha Washington testified that she saw defendant holding a sock under his shirt when he came into the apartment after talking to Walton. She said he walked through the apartment and placed the sock in a pile of leaves in the back yard. Washington also said she heard defendant say that he "did not shoot the boy." He then showed the women his gun and let them smell it before placing it in his waistband.

Detective Joe Youngman testified that he investigated the shooting death of Adrian Lobdell, which occurred in the early morning of December 31 at the housing complex where Martin and Washington lived. He said he took defendant into custody on January 3, 1997, as a suspect in the incident. At the time, defendant was not feeling good. After allowing him to sleep at the county jail, the officer began a series of interviews with defendant around noon the next day. Initially, defendant denied any knowledge about the shooting; however, around 10 p.m., defendant admitted that he had been in the neighborhood but he did not commit the offense. Youngman told his sergeant that he believed defendant was not the shooter, but he wanted more time for defendant to tell him who was.

After midnight, defendant told Youngman that he had been standing with a group of people when he saw Eddie Walton pull up in his Bronco. While defendant was sitting with Walton observing the crowd, he heard a shot, and then Charles Morris yelled, "Cisco!" Walton and defendant drove off, but later met up with Morris. Morris asked defendant to hide his gun. Morris explained that Tyrone Campbell, known as Cisco, had borrowed the gun earlier in the evening, and Morris assumed that it had been used in the shooting. Defendant described the gun as a shiny black .38 revolver, wrapped in a white sock with a bullet hole in it. Defendant told Youngman that he later buried the gun in the leaves behind Martin's apartment. The next morning, he retrieved it and returned it to Morris.

Youngman said he asked defendant if he had been carrying a gun that night. Defendant admitted he had carried a 9 millimeter semi-automatic pistol in his waistband. He said he told Martin to smell the pistol to prove that he had not been involved in the shooting. Youngman said that he believed defendant because he had earlier interviewed Martin, and she had related the same incident. Youngman said Campbell was subsequently convicted of Lobdell's murder.

Prior to Youngman's cross-examination testimony, the prosecutor moved to preclude the defense from relitigating matters raised at the suppression hearing. The court denied the motion. When the case resumed, Youngman testified that defendant never asked to speak with an attorney, family or friends during the period of his custodial ...

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