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People v. Kolakowski

January 30, 2001


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 95 CR 3691 The Honorable Joseph G. Kazmierski, Jr., Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Cousins

On August 20, 1994, 89-year-old Leo Radzikinas was murdered in his home. Within three days of the crime, defendant Dorleena Kolakowski and her boyfriend, Corey West, were arrested for his murder. Defendant, who was 13 years old at the time of the offense, was indicted for first degree murder, armed robbery, home invasion and residential burglary. The juvenile court granted State's motion to transfer the case to criminal court. The trial court denied defendant's motions to quash her arrest and suppress her statements.

Following a bench trial, defendant was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to 40 years in the Department of Corrections. On appeal, defendant argues that: (1) the juvenile court abused its discretion by transferring her case to criminal court; (2) the trial court erred by denying defendant's motion to quash arrest; (3) the trial court erred by denying defendant's motion to suppress an involuntary statement; and (4) the trial court erred by imposing a 40-year sentence.


Following defendant's arrest, a transfer hearing was held to determine whether she should be prosecuted as an adult. At the transfer hearing, several witnesses were called, including: Dr. Peter Fink, a psychiatrist; and two probation officers, Janet Ederle and Carol Zientek.

Dr. Fink diagnosed defendant with depressive disorder (not otherwise specified), dysthymic disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder acute. Depressive disorder, not otherwise specified, means periods of feeling sad, hopeless, helplessly overwhelmed, but not in a consistent or persistent manner. Dr. Fink indicated that defendant had no history of being violent toward others and knew right from wrong. He found her to have slightly above average intellectual potential. He thought defendant's case was treatable and recommended a residential treatment facility, which was only available through the juvenile system. To be successful, the treatment required an opportunity for defendant to develop attachments to peers and adults that were consistent and sustained and an opportunity for teaching and reinforcing that she is valued and competent in what she masters. In Dr. Fink's opinion, if defendant received two to four years of residential treatment, she could potentially be rehabilitated.

Probation officer Janet Ederle had been familiar with defendant's family for four years. She previously served as probation officer for two of defendant's older siblings. Defendant's parents had contacted Ederle several weeks before the crime to discuss defendant's truancy and frequent habit of running away from home. After the crime, Ederle was assigned as defendant's probation officer and conducted a social investigation of her. Ederle believed that defendant should be transferred to the adult system due to the nature of the offense, defendant's history within her family and community, and the fact that there were no rehabilitative services particularly available in the juvenile court that would apply to defendant. Ederle explained that residential placement facilities, only available in the juvenile system, were virtually nonexistent for a child charged with this offense. She conceded, however, that she did not contact any residential facilities regarding the placement of defendant.

The last key witness at the transfer hearing, probation officer Carol Zientek, worked within a specialized unit that focused on placing juveniles in residential facilities. Zientek recommended retaining defendant within the juvenile system because she would benefit from ongoing psychotherapy. Since the Department of Corrections, Juvenile Division, simply reviewed mental status without providing direct psychological services, Zientek opined that this adult system would not fulfill defendant's needs. Instead, Zientek believed that a residential placement facility would be the best option for defendant.

As far as the availability of such services, Zientek suggested three out-of-state facilities for young women: Excelsior in Colorado, Yellowstone Treatment Center in Montana, and Benchmark in Utah. However, Zientek conceded that such facilities might deny defendant admission because private centers can draw the line at violent offenders. Given defendant's background and the seriousness of the crime, Zientek stated, "I believe there would be a place for her. I'm not sure."

If defendant were accepted at such a facility, the court probed as to whether Zientek believed defendant could be rehabilitated within seven years, before attaining majority. Zientek replied:

"Judge, my own experience as a probation officer tells me we can only bring a child to those programs in the hope that they would be rehabilitated. Many of the, of the programs that I mentioned are very good programs and they will work with youngsters; but, the expectation is that there would be some change in attitude and behavior with that child in certainly a space of 7 years, but as a probation officer I know that children can go into programs like that and fail. We are all part of that."

Finally, Zientek acknowledged that nothing requires a juvenile delinquent to accept rehabilitation services after the age of 21.

After considering each statutory factor, the juvenile court primarily expressed concern that rehabilitation services in the juvenile division would end when defendant reached majority. The juvenile court then granted the State's motion to transfer defendant to criminal court.


Both Detective William Johnston and youth officer Stephen Joyce testified at the hearings for motion to quash defendant's arrest and motion to suppress her statements.

Detective Johnston stated that when he went to the victim's home on August 21, 1994, he determined that the point of entry was the bedroom window because the screen was cut and a chair was directly underneath the window. Next, he interviewed neighbors, including Mr. Kalseth and Mrs. Greco. Mr. Kalseth, the victim's next-door neighbor, told Detective Johnston that, a few days before the murder, he observed a young white girl with a young black boy walking around the neighborhood. That afternoon, he saw the boy knock on the victim's door and ask the victim for water, while the girl sat on the sidewalk down the street. On the night before the murder, he saw them on the victim's property. Becoming suspicious, he yelled at the kids and called 911.

Detective Johnston also spoke to Mrs. Greco, who lived 10 houses away from the victim. She told Johnston that she saw a white female and a black male sitting on her front steps on two separate occasions --both on the day before and the day of the murder. On the day before the murder, she spoke to them and they identified themselves as "Corey" and "Dori."

Detective Johnston spoke to youth officer Joyce, who told him that a white female, Dorleena Kolakowski, known as "Dori," was reported missing and was supposed to be with her boyfriend Corey. Johnston then went to the Kolakowski home and spoke with defendant's mother, who told him that defendant was still missing and was likely with her boyfriend, Corey West. Johnston finally went to West's home, and West said that he would help the officers find the defendant. The officers checked the neighborhood, found the defendant two blocks from her home, and took her to the police station.

As they walked into the station at 4:30 p.m., Detective Johnston requested another officer to notify youth officer Joyce. Before giving defendant Miranda warnings, Johnston initially questioned defendant about her runaway status and her boyfriend. He then asked her a few questions related to the murder investigation. Specifically, he asked her if she or West ever asked an old man who lived near Blackhawk Park for water. When defendant assented, he asked if they had ever gone onto the old man's property. Defendant responded that she and West had walked into the backyard of his property when a male neighbor shouted that they should leave. At this point, Johnston read defendant her Miranda rights for the first time. He could not recall whether youth officer Joyce was present at this moment. He did state that Officer Joyce came into the interview room a couple of minutes after defendant and Detective Johnston were seated in there.

Youth officer Joyce testified that on August 22, 1994, around 5 p.m., he was informed that defendant was found and brought to the police station. Officer Joyce called defendant's mother, then 15 to 20 minutes later went to see defendant in the interview room. He heard the detectives give defendant Miranda warnings before defendant gave an oral statement. He came back to visit defendant three more times that evening: first, between 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. to check on her welfare; second, around 10:45 p.m. when defendant gave an oral statement to an assistant State's Attorney; and third, around 12:30 a.m. when defendant gave a court-reported statement. Officer Joyce further testified that he was present during all three statements that defendant gave to law enforcement officials. He stated that, before each statement, defendant was fully advised of her Miranda rights.

Officer Joyce also stated that he met defendant's father in the police station waiting room some time between 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. Officer Joyce gave defendant's father notice of defendant's scheduled court appearance the next day. There is conflicting testimony as to whether the father was denied access to his daughter. Both Officer Joyce and Detective Johnston allege that they asked the father separately whether he wanted to see his daughter, and he indicated that he wanted to leave. In contrast, the father testified that officers told him he could not see his daughter and to go home, even though he specifically asked to see her.

Dr. Leska, a clinical psychologist, also testified at the suppression hearing. Based on her examination of the defendant, Dr. Leska believed that defendant did not fully understand her Miranda rights, nor did she appreciate the consequences of relinquishing those rights. Test results indicated that defendant had an IQ of about 80, which was in the low, average range of intelligence. Dr. Leska also found defendant to have poor abstract thinking ability. On cross-examination, Dr. Leska admitted that defendant scored several points higher on IQ tests administered by another psychologist, Dr. Levy.

The trial court found that police had probable cause to arrest defendant when they picked her up and that her subsequent statements were voluntary. The trial court denied defendant's suppression motions.


At trial, defendant's court-reported statement was read into the record. According to the statement, the following events took place on the evening of August 20, 1994. After playing basketball in Blackhawk Park with her boyfriend, Corey West, the defendant and West went to the alley behind the victim's house, which they planned to break into. They entered the victim's house through his bedroom window. Defendant slit the window's screen with a knife and entered the house first, followed by West. They crawled on the floor and found the victim asleep in a chair in front of the television.

Defendant followed West's instructions and returned with a pillow from the bedroom. West took the pillow and put it over the victim's face, causing him to struggle. West then told defendant to hold the pillow down, which she did, until the victim pushed her off. Meanwhile, West retrieved ...

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