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People v. Daniels

June 28, 2002


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable Joseph J. Urso, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Quinn


Following a jury trial in 1990 before Judge Michael P. Toomin, defendant Sheila Daniels was convicted of the first degree murder of her paraplegic boyfriend, David McCoy, and was sentenced to an 80-year prison term. *fn1 On appeal, with one justice dissenting, this court ruled, inter alia, that the trial court did not err in denying defendant's motion to suppress statements, but reversed defendant's conviction, finding the admission of polygraph results at her trial improper. People v. Daniels, 272 Ill. App. 3d 325 (1994) (Daniels I). Following a second jury trial before Judge Joseph J. Urso, defendant was again convicted of first degree murder and was sentenced to 80 years' imprisonment. On appeal, defendant contends: (1) that the trial court erred in refusing to hold an evidentiary hearing on her motions to suppress statements; (2) that the trial court erred in quashing her subpoenas to the City of Chicago (City); (3) that the trial court erred in refusing to send her medical reports to the jury during its deliberations; and (4) that her 80-year sentence is unconstitutional under Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466, 147 L. Ed. 2d 435, 120 S. Ct. 2348 (2000). For the reasons set forth below, we affirm defendant's conviction, vacate her sentence and remand for resentencing. Issues (1) and (2) will be considered in published portions of this opinion and issues (3) and (4) will be determined in unpublished portions of this opinion.


Defendant's conviction arose from the November 12, 1988, shooting death of McCoy in the garage of the home that he, defendant and her daughter shared at 1654 East 92nd Street in Chicago. Working through a trace of the gun used in the murder, police returned to defendant's house on November 17, 1988, to question her again about McCoy's death and some telephone logs the police had acquired. Defendant was asked to go to the police station to assist in reviewing the telephone logs. Defendant agreed, and while accompanied by three officers, arrived at the police station around 5:30 p.m. that day. The facts surrounding her stay at the police station and the content of various statements she made to police, including a statement taken by a court reporter wherein defendant admitted to shooting McCoy but claimed it was in self-defense, were laid out at length in Daniels I. Therefore, only those facts necessary for proper consideration of the instant appeal will be repeated here.

At the police station, defendant was questioned regarding McCoy's death and admitted to having purchased the gun used in the shooting, but stated it had been stolen by her brother Anthony Daniels. After defendant told police where Anthony lived, he was picked up and taken to the police station. Anthony was questioned and released.

At 11:40 p.m., defendant was advised of her Miranda rights and agreed to take a polygraph exam, which lasted about 2½ hours. After learning she had failed the exam, she implicated her brother Tyrone in McCoy's murder. At 3 a.m. she was placed under arrest for McCoy's death and advised of her Miranda rights. About 30 minutes later, she accompanied police to Tyrone's home, where he was arrested and taken to the police station.

Prior to her first trial, defendant filed a motion to suppress written and oral statements. In her motion, defendant asserted that she had been illegally arrested in her home without a warrant in the absence of probable cause, which was a violation of her fourth amendment rights as guaranteed by the United States Constitution. She also asserted that incriminating statements she had given investigators were made in the absence of Miranda warnings and resulted from prolonged questioning and refusals by police to allow her to contact her attorney and family, which was a violation of her fifth and sixth amendment rights.

After an evidentiary hearing, Judge Toomin denied defendant's motion to suppress. With respect to her fourth amendment claim, he found that defendant had voluntarily accompanied police to the station. As for the voluntariness of her confession, Judge Toomin, citing People v. Dodds, 190 Ill. App. 3d 1083 (1989), and People v. Nicholls, 42 Ill. 2d 91 (1969), ruled that defendant's confession was voluntary.

In Daniels I, defendant argued, inter alia, that Judge Toomin had erred in denying her motion to suppress statements. In particular, she contested his determinations that she had voluntarily accompanied police to the station from her home on November 17, 1988, that she had not been tricked by police into accompanying them and that her statement to the polygraph operator was sufficient to establish probable cause for her arrest. This court rejected all of these arguments, finding that "the circuit court properly denied her motion to suppress." Daniels I, 272 Ill. App. 3d at 336.

After this court reversed her conviction and remanded the case, defendant filed another motion to quash arrest and suppress statements, which was twice amended and once reoffered. In the original motion filed after remand, defendant stated that some time after 11:30 p.m. on November 17, 1988, officers showed defendant her brother Anthony, who at the time was handcuffed to a wall in the police station. Anthony was bruised and bloody, apparently as a result of having been beaten. She alleged that during her interrogation, officers engaged in conduct calculated to psychologically and physically coerce her into making admissions as to her involvement in McCoy's murder, including exhibiting her brother Tyrone to her. At the time, he was also in the police station and was bleeding after having been beaten by police. She alleged that police informed her that they would continue beating Tyrone and might even subject her to physical cruelty unless she made admissions relating to her involvement in McCoy's murder. Defendant sought a hearing on her motion to suppress.

In her second amended motion to quash arrest and suppress statements filed on May 21, 1996, defendant again alleged she had made admissions due to the physical abuse Tyrone had endured at the hands of the police. She further alleged that prior to seeing her brother Anthony in a beaten condition, police had threatened to charge her and/or Anthony with McCoy's murder for which they could receive the death penalty. She also stated that Anthony had been beaten by the police "in an attempt by the officers to frighten, intimidate and otherwise coerce [her] into making admissions to the crime charged." Defendant again sought a hearing on her motion to suppress.

During argument on defendant's motion, defense counsel argued that new evidence, that being testimony from defendant's brothers, was now available. Defense counsel explained that Tyrone, who would have asserted his fifth amendment privilege against self-incrimination at defendant's first trial, would testify at a subsequent hearing. Counsel further explained that Anthony's testimony, which Judge Toomin had precluded at the previous hearing, would also be presented. Defense counsel argued that the "necessity and/or sufficiency" of Miranda warnings had not been previously raised. It was further argued that whether defendant's status at the police station became custodial before she was informed she was under arrest at 3 a.m. had not been previously raised. Counsel also asserted that cases had been decided by the United States Supreme Court since this court had issued Daniels I that had the effect of changing the law regarding the admissibility of defendant's statements. The State argued that the doctrine of law of the case barred a subsequent hearing on defendant's motion. In denying defendant's request for a hearing on her motion to quash arrest and suppress evidence, Judge Urso stated that the issues raised in the motion "were properly litigated at the trial level and ruled upon by the appellate court." Judge Urso found that there was no new evidence nor were there exceptional circumstances warranting a hearing on the motion. After denial of her motion, defendant filed written offers of proof, which stated that, if called to testify at a hearing, Tyrone and Anthony would substantiate the allegations of abuse contained in her second amended motion to suppress. She later filed her reoffered motion to suppress, which was also denied.

Following a second jury trial, where defendant's statements to police were again admitted, defendant was found guilty of first degree murder. Finding that the circumstances surrounding the commission of the murder were brutal and heinous, Judge Urso sentenced defendant to an extended term of 80 years in prison. Defendant now appeals.


Defendant first contends that Judge Urso erred in denying her a hearing on her motions to suppress filed after this court's decision in Daniels I. She asserts that Judge Urso should have allowed her to reopen for proofs because neither Judge Toomin nor this court ruled on the claims she now advances for suppression of her statements, those being her questioning without the benefit of Miranda warnings while in custody on November 17-18, 1988, and that her statements were coerced and made involuntarily. Defendant acknowledges that in Daniels I this court ruled that defendant had voluntarily accompanied officers to the police station, but she argues that is a separate and distinct issue from whether she was advised of her Miranda rights.

In general, under the law of the case doctrine, a rule established as controlling in a particular case will continue to be the law of the case, provided the facts remain the same. People v. Patterson, 154 Ill. 2d 414, 468 (1992). "The doctrine, however, merely expresses the practice of courts generally to refuse to reopen what has been decided; it is not a limit on their power." Patterson, 154 Ill. 2d at 468-69. The trial court's decision not to revisit a matter previously litigated in reliance upon the law of the case doctrine will not be reversed absent an abuse of discretion. People v. Enis, 163 Ill. 2d 367, 387 (1994).

Defendant argues that the reopening of her case is not barred by the doctrine of law of the case because in Daniels I we ruled, with respect to her motion to suppress, that she had voluntarily accompanied police to the station and that investigators did not employ a ruse in order to induce her to leave her home. She claims the propriety of the police conduct once she arrived at Area 2, which implicates a fifth amendment violation, has never been ruled upon.

In People v. Hattery, 183 Ill. App. 3d 785, 805-06 (1989), this court stated:

"With regard to pretrial motions to suppress evidence, the rule is that once a motion to suppress has been ruled upon by one judge, that motion cannot be relitigated later before another judge, absent a showing of exceptional circumstances or of additional evidence that has become available since the first hearing to suppress. [People v. Henderson, 36 Ill. App. 3d 355, 370 (1976).] However, '[i]n a criminal case, where one party is successful in contesting a pretrial order on appeal, reversal and remandment does not preclude the trial court from considering other issues originally raised in the pretrial proceedings but not finally determined by the appellate court on the merits.' [People v. Feagans, 134 Ill. App. 3d 252, 257 (1985).]"

Defendant eloquently states her position in her reply brief, where she explains that in her view:

"[T]he [law of the case] doctrine applies not to 'motions' as such, but, rather, to legal issues determined almost invariably after a hearing. If a court of review has decided a legal issue then the successor judge may rely upon that ruling as settled law, and, in the absence of a change in the law by a still higher court, or new factual basis, apply it to the case before him or her. But if the legal issue has never been presented to a trial court and a hearing conducted thereon, and/or if the court has never issued a ruling on the precise legal issue then the doctrine of the 'law of the case' simply cannot be applied because, in reality, there is no law of the case to apply. Thus, it is the position of *** defendant that the only 'law of the case' in this case is the law pronounced by this court in its opinion in [Daniels I]. If this court did not previously consider a legal issue, and rule upon it, there can be no 'law of the case' which successor Judge Urso should have heeded." (Emphasis in original.)

We disagree with defendant's position that Judge Toomin did not rule on the fifth amendment aspects of her first motion to suppress. This position is completely belied by the record. In his lengthy findings of facts, Judge Toomin first reiterated the theories raised in defendant's motion to suppress. After discussing the fourth amendment issue, Judge Toomin continued:

"The other ground that the court notes from the motion is centered in both the 5th and 6th Amendments alleging a denial of her right to have an opportunity to consult with counsel, coupled with repeated questioning of her over a long period of time during which she was allegedly held incommunicad[o] *** and also that her ...

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