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People v. Griffin

January 24, 2002


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 93-CR-04871-01 Honorable Edwin A. Gausselin, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Theis


Fifteen-year old defendant Terrence Griffin was tried and convicted as an adult of first-degree murder and sentenced to 45 years' imprisonment. He appealed, arguing that his confession was involuntary and the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress. On appeal, we found that the trial court's consideration of all of the factors under the totality of the circumstances test was incomplete. We then remanded the case for the limited purpose of a new hearing on the voluntariness of defendant's statement, specifically addressing the presence or absence of defendant's parents and any evidence of police conduct frustrating his parents' attempts to confer with defendant. People v. Griffin, No. 1-97-0315 (1998) (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23). We also retained jurisdiction to allow review of the court's decision at the new hearing. Following a new suppression hearing on remand, the trial court again denied defendant's motion to suppress, finding the statement voluntary. Defendant now appeals from that decision and argues that his confession was involuntary where the police (1) prevented defendant's parents from conferring with him prior to making a statement, (2) interrogated defendant in the absence of an adult concerned for his welfare, and (3) held him at the police station for over 18 hours before he confessed. For the following reasons, we reverse.

During the second suppression hearing, the parties agreed to stipulate to and include the testimony from defendant's first motion-to-suppress hearing. At that hearing in April 1994, youth officer Begeske testified that at approximately 11 p.m. or midnight on January 25, 1993, he was called to the Calumet City police station in his capacity as a youth officer. He identified himself at defendant's first interview at 3 a.m., which lasted about 30 minutes. Defendant was read his Miranda rights, indicated that he understood those rights, and waived them. After the interview, defendant remained in a juvenile holding cell with a bed and toilet during the day and would have been fed breakfast and lunch.

Begeske next spoke with defendant at 5:10 p.m. At that interview, Investigator Glumac and Assistant State's Attorney Danielian were also present. Defendant was again "Mirandized" before Danielian conducted the interview, which ended at approximately 8 p.m. Begeske was present when defendant made a statement, which was then reduced to writing. Danielian reviewed defendant's two-page statement with him, allowing him to make any changes before signing it.

On cross-examination, Begeske stated that defendant's parents were not at the police station when he arrived. He acknowledged that defendant's father, Mr. Willie Griffin, came to the station that day, but stated that no one advised him that defendant's mother, Mrs. Pearlie Griffin, was there. While Begeske spoke with Mr. Griffin during the day, he did not notify defendant's parents that defendant was at the station for questioning. Begeske testified that defendant never asked to speak to his parents.

Defendant testified that he was 15 years old at the time of the arrest and was a freshman in high school. He stated that Begeske was present during the 3 a.m. interview, but defendant thought that he was an investigator, not a youth officer. Defendant had previous contact with the police and other youth officers. He denied that anyone explained his rights to him and testified that he asked to speak to his parents constantly. Defendant stated that he received breakfast and lunch and was able to sleep in his cell.

Mrs. Griffin testified that, about one-half hour after the police came to her house on January 24 looking for her younger son Frank, she proceeded to the police station to see defendant. She stated that she spent at least five or six hours at the station, but the woman at the front desk would not allow her to see her son.

Danielian testified that he first interviewed defendant during the 5 p.m. interview and explained his role as an assistant State's Attorney. The conversation lasted approximately one hour before Danielian asked defendant if he would be willing to give a written statement. Defendant then read a portion of the statement to confirm that he could read English. They read through the statement together and defendant was allowed to make corrections.

The second motion-to-suppress hearing in April 2000 contained the following testimony. Officer Begeske testified that, when he arrived at the Calumet City police station around midnight on January 25, 1993, defendant's father was present. Mr. Griffin had arrived with his other son, Frank, and Chief Rhodes. Begeske spoke with Mr. Griffin and told him that defendant was a suspect in a shooting and that Frank was a witness. He stated he was present when defendant's oral and handwritten statements were made and that at no time during either interview did defendant request to see his parents. Begeske stated he was there "to make sure that everything was running smoothly *** if the defendant needed anything, you know, water, pop, *** make sure that he was taken care of." He checked on defendant in his holding cell during the day, but did not know how many times he did so.

Begeske again spoke with Mr. Griffin sometime that afternoon before defendant's confession, where they talked about the progress of the case. However, later in his testimony, Begeske stated that he did not remember if he spoke with Mr. Griffin before or after defendant made his statement. Begeske testified that Mr. Griffin was aware that defendant was a suspect but did not indicate that he wanted to speak with him. On cross-examination, Begeske stated that he did not advise Mr. Griffin that his role as a youth officer was to protect the interests of his sons or that Mr. Griffin could be present during defendant's questioning. Begeske never told defendant that his father was in the lobby or that his father could speak with him. When he spoke with Mr. Griffin, it was through the glass window in the lobby. He did not recall seeing Mrs. Griffin at the station.

Begeske stated that he was the only youth officer at the station that day for several juvenile suspects and witnesses. Further, Begeske admitted that he was active in the investigation of this case. At 2:40 a.m., he "Mirandized" Frank and questioned him about the shooting. He then "Mirandized" and spoke with another witness, Landry Williams, about his knowledge of the crime. Begeske stated that either he or another investigator "Mirandized" defendant at the 3 a.m. interview. Begeske also testified that he was involved in and present for the "Mirandizing" of three juvenile co-defendants at 6:53 a.m., 11:20 a.m., and 4:30 p.m. Begeske agreed that he left the station to investigate this crime from approximately 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. When he returned to the station, he again interviewed Frank. During that conversation, Begeske learned the location of the weapons used in the shooting, and he and another officer proceeded to co-defendant Dearlo Terry's grandmother's house, where they retrieved several guns. Begeske returned to the station with the weapons and Terry and again questioned Frank.

Begeske initially denied that he and Danielian left the interview room during defendant's second interview from 5:10 p.m. until 8 p.m., but later admitted that he left defendant's presence for the statements of two other juveniles. Co-defendant Terry's written statement contained Begeske's and Danielian's signatures and indicated an interview start time of 5:34 p.m. and an end time of 6:45 p.m. Terrence Hodges' written statement indicated an end time of 7:10 p.m. Begeske stated that, while he was present for the statements of Terry and Hodges, he did not conduct the interviews. Further, Begeske stated that he and the other officers confronted defendant with other witnesses' statements and may have shown defendant the recovered weapons.

Mr. Griffin testified that around midnight of January 25, 1993, he and Frank accompanied the police to the station. His wife arrived about an hour or two later and told Mr. Griffin that defendant was in custody. Mr. Griffin stated that he and his wife repeatedly asked the uniformed woman at the front desk to see their sons but were never allowed to see them. They stayed at the station all night but left in the morning to care for their other children and returned to the station around noon. At that time, he and his wife spoke with Chief Rhodes, who said that defendant and Frank were being held and ...

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