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People v. Lee

March 29, 2002


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 97 CR 4111, Honorable James Linn, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Reid


Following a jury trial, the defendant, David Lee, was found guilty of first-degree murder (720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(1992)) and sentenced to 22 years imprisonment. On appeal, Lee asserts that the trial court erred when it: (1) denied his motion to suppress, and (2) admitted the prior inconsistent statement and prior testimony in another case of Terrell Richardson, who was not available to testify at this trial, as substantive evidence. For the reasons that follow, we reverse the decision of the trial court and remand this matter for a new trial.


The victim, Thomas Abraham, was killed during a drive-by shooting. Allegedly, there were three people in the vehicle who committed the drive-by. Lee was supposedly sitting in the rear passenger seat during the commission of the crime.


The Motion To Suppress Hearing

On February 8, 1998, Lee filed a motion to quash his arrest and suppress the resulting evidence including his statement. In the motion, Lee, a minor, alleged that he was not advised of his Miranda rights prior to being interrogated, that his mother, Helen Lee (Mrs. Lee), was present at the police station but was not allowed to be present during Lee's initial interrogations, that his statement was procured as a result of physical and mental coercion, and that he was unable to waive his Miranda rights because he was incapable of understanding the Miranda warning when it was finally given.

Detective John Murray testified that on January 6, 1997, at approximately 10:45 p.m. he arrested Lee and brought him to Area 1 Headquarters (Area 1). After picking Lee up, Murray telephoned the defendant's mother and explained to Mrs. Lee that her son was involved in a homicide investigation and requested that she come to Area 1, which is located at 51st Street and Wentworth Avenue in Chicago, Illinois. Murray told Mrs. Lee that his office was on the second floor, but did not tell her to come up the steps. The Second District police station is located on the first floor at 51st and Wentworth and Area 1 is located on the second floor of the same building. Murray did not go to see if Mrs. Lee was downstairs before questioning her son. Murray also failed to tell a youth officer that Lee was in custody until approximately 12:30 a.m. when youth officer Torres was called.

After waiting an hour and a half for Mrs. Lee, Murray, his partner, Detective John Halloran and Torres interrogated Lee. The interrogation began at approximately 12:45 a.m. Murray testified that when the interrogation began, he advised Lee of his Miranda rights. Lee indicated that he understood his Miranda rights and that he wanted to waive them and answer the detectives' questions. Lee then proceeded to give the police an oral statement.

At approximately 2:30 a.m., after Lee had given the initial inculpatory statement, Murray was notified that Lee's mother was seated in the lobby of the Second District police station. Murray then went downstairs to get Mrs. Lee. Murray explained to her the nature of the investigation and Lee's rights. Mrs. Lee was then allowed to talk to Lee privately for approximately 45 minutes.

Murray testified that he then spoke to Mrs. Lee before continuing the interrogation. Lee was once again advised of his Miranda rights. Both Lee and Mrs. Lee indicated that they understood the Miranda warning and the interrogation continued with Mrs. Lee present. At approximately 6:40 a.m. assistant state's attorney, Kevin Simon, took a handwritten statement from Lee wherein Lee confessed to participating in the murder.

The handwritten statement began with a paragraph which explained Lee's Miranda rights. It concluded with statements such as: Lee had been treated well by the police, Lee could read and write English, no threats or promises were made to Lee in exchange for his statement, and Lee read the first typed paragraph. Lee and Mrs. Lee signed every page of the confession.

Mrs. Lee testified that on the night of January 6, 1997, she received a telephone call from the police and was informed that she should come to the police station because her son was there. She informed the officer that she "would be right there." She immediately dressed and went to the police station. At the police station, the officers on the first floor were unable to locate Lee, and she waited approximately an hour before she was able to see her son.

Mrs. Lee also testified that neither she nor Lee read the handwritten statement before signing it. The following exchange occurred during Mrs. Lee's testimony:

Q: Were you ever given a chance to review the statement before you signed it?

A: I was told that I could read the statement, but I didn't read the statement?

Q: Why?

A: Because each sheet came in my hands, the gentleman on this side of me was the state's attorney. He say I made a mistake right here, and he takes the paper from my hands and he initialed it, and he put it back. He said here sign this. I signed it. And then once he take another one, and he said there, ma'am, right here. The officer behind me he had signed it. He said he had to sign it.

Q: Are you saying that you weren't given time to read the statement, ma'am?

A: No, I wasn't given a chance to read it, no.

Lee stated that he too did not read the statement before signing it and that he did not understand the statement when it was being read to him. Lee said he signed the statement because "I was under the impression from what the officer told me if I could sign the papers, I would get to go home with my mother."

Lee also testified that he was never advised of his Miranda rights before he was interrogated. Lee further claimed that he was never given the opportunity to call his mother although he requested to call her on four separate occasions, and that he was not given any advice throughout the night from youth officer Torres. Lee also ...

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