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People v. Fuller

February 07, 2001

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
ANDRE D. FULLER, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Clair County. No. 96-CF-1300 Honorable Stephen M. Kernan, Judge, presiding.

Justices: Honorable Charles W. Chapman, P.J. Honorable Thomas M. Welch, J., and Honorable Philip J. Rarick, J., Concur

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice Chapman

Andre D. Fuller (defendant) was arrested on December 16, 1996, on the charge of retail theft over $150 from the Famous-Barr store in Fairview Heights, Illinois. On defendant's motion, the trial court suppressed statements defendant made to store security staff. The State appeals, upon a certificate of impairment, pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 604(a)(1) (145 Ill. 2d R. 604(a)(1)). We reverse and remand.

On December 14, 1996, a Famous-Barr loss-prevention agent, Claude Karraker, allegedly observed defendant, an employee of the store, under-ringing merchandise for two customers. Karraker followed the customers out of the store, brought them back in to the security office, and called the loss-prevention manager, Allen Kehrer. Kehrer arrived and asked defendant to accompany him to the executive office.

Kehrer testified that he did not discuss this matter with the police prior to speaking with defendant, that the police did not call him during the questioning of defendant, and that they did not direct him to take defendant's statement. Kehrer testified that defendant cooperated and told Kehrer that he knew the two customers and their children and did under-ring their purchase. Kehrer testified that interviewing defendant and taking his written statement took approximately 25 minutes. After the statement was taken, defendant was taken to the security room. Kehrer then telephoned the regional manager, Dale Lambert, who made the decision to call the police and to file charges against defendant.

Generally, the review of a trial court's ruling on a motion to suppress involves questions of witness credibility and determinations of fact. Such cases are reversed only where manifest error is shown. People v. Wright, 183 Ill. 2d 16, 21, 697 N.E.2d 693, 695 (1998). This case, however, involves a determination of a question of law, and de novo review is appropriate. See Wright, 183 Ill. 2d at 21, 697 N.E.2d at 695.

Defendant posited two theories for suppressing the statements he made to store personnel. First, defendant claims that store security staff acted as agents of the local police and, therefore, Miranda warnings (see Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 16 L. Ed. 2d 694, 86 S. Ct. 1602 (1966)) should have been given prior to questioning. The trial court rejected this theory and found that the employees were not agents of the local police department. We agree with the trial court on this point. The evidence demonstrates that the Famous-Barr employees were not acting as agents of the police in this case.

Defendant's second theory is that Miranda warnings should have been given because the custodial interrogation was conducted pursuant to section 16A-5 of the Criminal Code of 1961 (720 ILCS 5/16A-5 (West 1998)). That statute provides in pertinent part:

"§16A-5. Detention. Any merchant who has reasonable grounds to believe that a person has committed retail theft may detain such person, on or off the premises of a retail mercantile establishment, in a reasonable manner and for a reasonable length of time for all or any of the following purposes:

(a) To request identification;

(b) To verify such identification;

(c) To make reasonable inquiry as to whether such person has in his possession unpurchased merchandise and[] to make reasonable investigation of the ownership of such merchandise; [and]

(d) To inform a peace officer of the detention of the person and surrender that person to the custody of a peace officer." 720 ILCS 5/16A-5 (West 1998).

The trial court determined that when non-law-enforcement persons make custodial interrogations pursuant to a state statute, fundamental fairness requires that such individuals be afforded some protection of their ...


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