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People v. Morgan

June 30, 1999


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, No. 96 CR 21026 Honorable Deborah Mary Dooling, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Quinn

Defendant, Lyjuan Morgan, was tried before a jury and convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to 40 years' imprisonment. On appeal, defendant argues that: (1) the trial court abused its discretion in denying defendant's motion to suppress his confession; (2) the trial court erred in ruling that defendant did not establish a prima facie case of racial discrimination in the State's exercise of peremptory challenges to excuse two black venirepersons from the jury; (3) the State failed to prove defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; (4) the State committed prosecutorial misconduct when it stated in closing arguments that its witness failed to identify defendant out of fear of gang retaliation; and (5) defendant's sentence was excessive. For the reasons discussed below, we affirm defendant's conviction and sentence.

On June 28, 1996, Kenneth Muhammed was murdered at 85th and Bishop Streets. On July 19, 1996, a complaint for preliminary examination was approved by an assistant State's Attorney and a warrant was issued for defendant's arrest for the murder.

At the time of the murder, defendant was 16 years old. He lived with his mother and sister in an apartment near 86th and Ashland Avenue. He had dropped out of high school after his freshman year. Defendant had one finding of juvenile delinquency for burglary to an auto and possession of a stolen motor vehicle.

On July 21, 1996, at about 2:10 p.m., defendant was arrested on an unrelated disorderly conduct charge. He was taken to the youth office in the 20th District, where the outstanding murder warrant was discovered. Defendant was then transported to Area Two. Defendant was formally arrested at 5 p.m. on July 21, 1996, and later gave a statement confessing to the murder.

The following facts surrounding the circumstances of defendant's confession were adduced at defendant's motion to suppress his statement.

Officer D. Barker testified that on July 21, 1996, at approximately 2:10 p.m, he arrested defendant for disorderly conduct and took him to the 20th District police station for processing. Because defendant was a juvenile, Officer Barker called the Area Three youth division, where defendant was transported and told by a youth officer that he was wanted on a warrant. At that point, defendant was handcuffed to the wall.

Officer Edward Kaup testified that on July 21, 1996, he transported defendant from Area Three's youth office to Area Two. Officer Kaup informed defendant that he was taking him to Area Two because detectives wanted to speak to him. Defendant did not complain that his handcuffs were too tight. Officer Kaup testified that no one threatened defendant with any kind of physical harm. At Area Two, Officer Kaup turned defendant over to Detective James Boylan.

Detective Boylan testified that he took defendant into custody at 5 p.m. on July 21, 1996. He removed defendant's handcuffs and placed him in an interview room. Defendant did not complain to Detective Boylan that his handcuffs were too tight. Detective Boylan asked defendant for his mother's name and phone number and attempted to contact his mother. Defendant did not ask to speak with his mother or an attorney. A police report contained the name of defendant's father, Craig Harding, but defendant did not provide Detective Boylan with any information about his father's whereabouts. Detective Boylan then attempted to contact several witnesses to the shooting.

By about 8 or 8:30 p.m., Detective Boylan was still unsuccessful at contacting the witnesses and called for an assistant State's Attorney. Detective Boylan gave defendant hamburgers, french fries, and a Coke. At approximately 9:15 p.m., Assistant State's Attorney Eric Lifvendahl arrived.

Detective Boylan made further attempts to contact defendant's mother and finally reached her at 9:50 p.m. Detective Boylan informed Mrs. Morgan that defendant had been arrested for murder and asked her if she wanted to be transported to the police station to be present during defendant's questioning. Mrs. Morgan replied that she had high blood pressure and could not make the trip. Mrs. Morgan did not ask to speak with defendant. Detective Boylan did not offer defendant an opportunity to make any phone calls, and defendant did not ask to make any phone calls. Detective Boylan gave defendant an opportunity to use the restroom, offered him something to drink, and then again attempted to contact witnesses in order to conduct a lineup. Detective Boylan testified that he had not begun questioning defendant at that time.

Detective Boylan then contacted Area Two youth division, and youth officer Fagan was assigned to defendant's case. At about 10 p.m., Boylan, Assistant State's Attorney Lifvendahl and youth officer Fagan entered the interview room where defendant sat handcuffed. Detective Boylan introduced Lifvendahl and youth officer Fagan to defendant. Lifvendahl advised defendant of his Miranda rights and informed him that he was a lawyer working with the police, and not his attorney, and that, due to the nature of the offense, he would be tried as an adult. Detective Boylan testified that no one verbally threatened defendant with any type of harm and that no one pushed or shoved him.

On cross-examination, Detective Boylan admitted that he was aware that the arrest warrant commanded that defendant be brought before a Judge.

Assistant State's Attorney Lifvendahl testified that youth officer Fagan introduced himself as a youth officer and told defendant that he would act as a responsible adult for him. Youth officer Fagan also told defendant that if he had any questions or wanted to know anything before he answered a question, he could ask him. Detective Boylan told defendant that his mother told him she was suffering from high blood pressure and could not come to the station. Defendant stated that he was aware of his mother's condition.

Assistant State's Attorney Lifvendahl then advised defendant of his Miranda rights, and defendant stated that he understood those rights. Lifvendahl asked defendant if he wished to answer questions. Defendant agreed to do so. Defendant was then questioned by Detective Boylan and Assistant State's Attorney Lifvendahl, with youth oOfficer Fagan present, and gave an oral statement admitting to the shooting. This conversation lasted approximately 20 minutes. While waiting for the court reporter to arrive, Lifvendahl spoke to defendant alone and asked how he had been treated by the police. Defendant responded that there was nothing he wanted to tell him. At 11:10 p.m., defendant gave a court-reported statement confessing to the murder, which he later reviewed and signed. Boylan and Fagan were present as Lifvendahl questioned defendant. In the court-reported statement, defendant stated that the police and the assistant State's Attorney treated him "pretty good," and that no one made any promises or threats to him in order for him to give his statement. Lifvendahl read each line out loud as defendant sat next to him and read along. Some corrections were made to the statement. Boylan, Fagan, and defendant initialed these corrections and they also signed the bottom of each page.

Defendant testified that on July 21, 1996, in the area of 5042 North Winthrop, the police arrested him and his friends and put the handcuffs on him "real tight." Defendant asked one of the officers to loosen his handcuffs, but he did not respond. Defendant also testified that the police banged defendant's and his friends' heads against the hood of the car. Defendant testified that he and his friends were all put in a room with several detectives and handcuffed to the wall. A police officer took defendant upstairs to a youth officer, who asked him his age and attempted to call defendant's mother at work. The youth officer then discovered the warrant for Muhammed's murder and informed Officer Kaup.

Defendant testified that Officer Kaup came in and asked him who he had killed. Defendant did not respond. Officer Kaup then told him that he could shoot him if he ran because the charge was for murder. Defendant testified that no one advised him of his Miranda rights or of his right to have a parent or attorney present for questioning.

Defendant testified that he was then transported to another police station and locked in a little room, where he remained for four hours and fell asleep. Then Detective Boylan came in alone and, without informing him of his Miranda rights, asked him if he wanted to make a statement. Defendant testified that he said, "no, I don't want to say anything." Detective Boylan then gave defendant a folder with statements from people who were claiming that defendant killed Kenneth Muhammed, and pictures of the people who made the statements. Defendant testified that Detective Boylan told him to tell the police what happened and that he would then ask the Judge to go easy on him. Detective Boylan later returned with the youth officer and asked defendant to make a statement. Defendant testified that the youth officer did not say anything to him and that Detective Boylan did all the talking. Defendant testified that he was never told that his mother was on the phone. Detective Boylan, the assistant State's Attorney, and the youth officer then transferred defendant to a larger room where he was questioned with a court reporter present, and defendant gave his statement.

On cross-examination at the hearing, defendant admitted that he had heard the Miranda rights a "couple times" before his arrest for the murder, and had contact with youth officers a couple of times before and knew that youth officers work with the police and process juveniles. Defendant testified that the assistant State's Attorney read him his Miranda rights and that he stated he understood those rights. The assistant State's Attorney had asked defendant whether he had heard those rights read before, and defendant stated that he had.

The parties then stipulated that on July 18, 1996, Detective J. McCann contacted Assistant State's Attorney Kevin Golden, who reviewed the investigative file regarding the murder and approved the issuance of defendant's arrest warrant and a complaint for preliminary examination. These were later signed by a Judge.

After hearing this evidence and arguments on the motion, the trial court denied the motion to suppress defendant's statement.The court found that the presence of a youth officer satisfied the requirements of the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 (Act) (705 ILCS 405/1 et seq. (West 1994)). The trial court also found that the police did not conspire to interrogate defendant outside the presence of a concerned parent in violation of the Act. The trial court found that Detective Boylan acted responsibly when he attempted to contact defendant's mother and, when she would not come in, contacted a youth officer. The court found that defendant was in custody for less than nine hours and that he was questioned for a very short period of time during that time. The court further found that there was absolutely no physical or psychological force or mental coercion used against defendant. The trial court specifically stated that it did not believe defendant's testimony that he asked for an attorney or that he stated he did not want to talk. The trial court found that defendant agreed to waive his right to remain silent and talk to the police. The trial court ruled that, under the totality of circumstances, defendant's statement was voluntary and admissible at trial.

At trial, the victim's grandfather, James Barber, testified that on June 28, 1996, Kenneth Muhammed drove to his home at 8557 South Loomis Boulevard in Chicago from Madison, Wisconsin, where he lived with his mother. Muhammed ate and then told Barber that he was out of gas. Barber gave Muhammed $5, and Muhammed took a gas can out of his trunk and went to buy gas. About 15 minutes later, someone came and told Barber that Muhammed ...

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