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People v. Murray

September 16, 1999


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice South

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable Stuart E. Palmer, Judge Presiding.

Defendant, Jamie Murray, was convicted of first degree murder and attempted first degree murder and sentenced to an extended term of 70 years for murder and a consecutive sentence of 30 years for attempted murder for a total of 100 years.

The two issues on appeal are (1) whether the trial court erred in denying the motion to quash the arrest and suppress defendant's statement, and (2) whether defendant's consecutive sentence was based upon an improper factor and whether the aggregate sentence of 100 years constituted an abuse of discretion.

The evidence adduced at trial was that on July 10, 1994, at approximately 4:45 p.m., the victims, Eric Smith and Tierre Randle, were walking down an alley in the vicinity of 1351 North Lockwood Avenue in Chicago, Illinois, when an individual, later identified as defendant, ran up from behind them, firing several shots, striking and killing Eric and injuring Tierre. Defendant was arrested on a later date and identified in a lineup by two eye-witnesses to the shootings, Tierre Randle and Ellis Walker, Eric's grandfather.

Dr. Edmund Donoghue, chief medical examiner for the Cook County medical examiner's office, testified that the cause and manner of Eric Smith's death were multiple gunshot wounds. It was stipulated that Tierre Randle suffered a gunshot wound to the right foot with an open fracture to the right great toe proximal phalanx or big toe. He was treated and released within 2½ hours of the shooting.

Prior to trial, defendant filed a motion to quash the arrest and suppress his confession. At the hearing, there was a stipulation that defendant was arrested pursuant to an outstanding arrest warrant. The validity of that warrant has never been at issue. What is at issue is the validity of the traffic stop that ultimately led to the discovery of the outstanding warrant. The court did not permit any witnesses to testify, so an offer of proof was made by defense counsel: On January 26, 1995, at approximately 6:30 p.m., defendant was a rear-seat passenger in a vehicle being operated in the vicinity of 175th and Pulaski in the Village of Country Club Hills, Cook County, Illinois. At that time, a village police officer effectuated a traffic stop and asked the driver, Cleveland Fields, for his driver's license. While Mr. Fields was searching for his license, the police officer shined his flashlight into the interior of the car and saw what he believed to be the barrel of a revolver on the floor in front of the driver. He ordered all of the occupants, including defendant, out of the car and handcuffed them. Mr. Fields immediately told the officer that defendant did not know anything about the gun. The officer asked defendant his name, who replied "DeAndre Williams." A computer check on that name revealed that it was one of the aliases defendant used and that there was an outstanding arrest warrant for him out of Chicago. Defendant was transported to the Country Club Hills police department, and the Chicago police were notified. After the Chicago police officers arrived, defendant was "Mirandized," interrogated and then gave an inculpatory statement regarding the Smith-Randle shootings.

On September 20, 1995, the driver of this vehicle, Mr. Fields, appeared before Judge Reginald Baker in the Sixth District (Markham) and filed a motion to quash his arrest and suppress the evidence, to wit, the revolver. Judge Baker stated that the arrest was a "sham," in other words, illegal, and granted the motion. The State never took an appeal from this ruling, and the record does not set forth the basis of Judge Baker's ruling.

On defendant Murray's motion to quash, counsel argued that the confession was the "fruit of the illegal arrest" and should be suppressed. Defense counsel stated there were no factual issues to be decided by the court, only legal issues.

The court stated:

"I'm telling you right now, if there was an arrest warrant for the defendant at that time I would deny this motion ***. My ruling is that it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter why they stopped him or how they stopped him or whether they had probable cause to stop him or not. It doesn't matter and, therefore, I'm not going to let you put an officer on. You've agreed that there was an arrest warrant in effect that was issued by the Circuit Court of Cook County. To me that's the end of the inquiry.

*** Whether or not they would have, whether or not they stopped him for some other reason and then ultimately discovered that he was the guy that was wanted on the warrant is irrelevant. There's a warrant out for him. He's got no beef.

*** I think it's irrelevant. If there's an arrest warrant out for him, there's an arrest warrant out for him. So you can't complain that the officers did not act appropriately by arresting him without a warrant when there was a warrant and I think it's not relevant whether they knew there was a warrant or not. ***Motion to quash arrest and suppress evidence is stricken."

Ordinarily, the decision of the trial court on a fourth amendment motion to quash and suppress will not be disturbed by a reviewing court unless that finding is determined to be clearly erroneous. People v. Foskey, 136 Ill. 2d 66, 76, 554 N.E.2d 192 (1990). Where neither the facts nor the credibility of the witnesses is contested, the issue of whether probable cause exists is a legal question which we may consider de novo. In re D.G., 144 Ill. 2d 404, 408-09, 581 N.E.2d 648 (1991).

The State, in its brief, does not concede that the initial traffic stop by the Country Club Hills police was unlawful and takes issue with defendant's assertion in his brief that "it was undisputed and accepted as true by the trial court that the automobile in which [defendant] was a passenger was unlawfully seized." However, during the hearing on the motion to quash, the State neither argued that Judge Baker's ruling was erroneous nor took an appeal from that decision. Its position was and still is that irrespective of the legality of that traffic stop, defendant's subsequent arrest by the Chicago police on an arrest warrant, the validity and sufficiency of which have never been challenged, and his subsequent confession to the Chicago police, were proper. In light of this argument, we shall operate on the premise that the traffic ...

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