Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 01 C 3963--Milton I. Shadur, Judge.
Before Rovner, Diane P. Wood, and Williams, Circuit
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Diane P. Wood, Circuit Judge.
At the age of 14, Derrick Hardaway confessed under police questioning to the murder of 11-year-old Robert Sandifer. An Illinois trial court denied Hardaway's motion to suppress his confessions as involuntary, and he was convicted of the crime and sentenced to 45 years in prison. After exhausting his state court remedies, Hardaway filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. The district court granted the petition, finding that in light of Hardaway's age, the lack of a friendly adult presence, and the length of the interrogation, Hardaway's confession was involuntary and suppression was required. Because we reluctantly conclude that the Illinois courts' application of the totality of the circumstances test to Hardaway's confession was not an unreasonable application of clearly established Supreme Court precedent, we reverse the judgment of the district court. We do so, however, with the gravest misgivings and only in light of the stringent standard of review that applies under the applicable law, because we are convinced that the many other indicia under Illinois law of the special care that must be exercised with children as young as 14 strongly suggests that an injustice was committed here.
On August 28, 1994, 11-year-old Robert "Yummy" Sandifer, a member of the Black Disciples street gang in Chicago's Roseland neighborhood, shot and killed 14-year-old Shavon Dean and wounded two other children. Sandifer himself then disappeared. An intensive police search for Sandifer ensued until Sandifer's body was found under a viaduct at 108th Street and Dauphin Avenue shortly after midnight on September 1. He had been shot twice in the back of the head.
In the early morning hours of September 1, Cassandra Cooper telephoned the police and told them that Sandifer had been at her home around 11:30 p.m. the night before and that her daughter Jimesia saw Sandifer leave their porch with Hardaway and his older brother Cragg. At around 8 a.m., the police went to the Hardaway home. Hardaway was roused from sleep, told of the investigation, and, after conferring with his father, agreed to accompany the officers to the police station to help with the investigation. Hardaway's father was offered a ride to the station but declined, choosing instead to wait for his son Cragg to return home. Hardaway dressed and was transported to the police station unhandcuffed and placed in an unlocked interview room at about 8:30 a.m.
Two detectives, Robert Lane and Romas Arbataitis, questioned Hardaway at that time. Hardaway admitted to knowing Sandifer but stated that he had last seen him three days earlier. The detectives then left the interview room and Arbataitis spoke to Jimesia, who confirmed her mother's report that Sandifer and Hardaway had been together that very night. Jimesia said that Hardaway had approached Sandifer and another boy, Mike Griffin, who were both sitting on the porch of her home, and told Sandifer "that he had to go with Derrick, that [Cragg] and the boys wanted to take him out of town."
At about 10:30 a.m., the detectives interviewed Hardaway for a second time. This time they read him his Miranda rights and confronted him with Jimesia's statements. Hardaway then changed his story, essentially admitting to Jimesia's version of events. He said that Sandifer and Griffin followed him off the porch and went to a waiting car, driven by Cragg. Cragg then drove off with Sandifer while Hardaway and Griffin walked home. The detectives' conversation with Hardaway lasted about 15 minutes and he was then left alone in the interview room. Over the next six hours he was briefly questioned on matters such as the name of Cragg's girlfriend, provided with lunch, and occasionally checked on. Most of his time, however, was spent alone.
During the afternoon, Griffin was located and interviewed by the police. He confirmed that he and Sandifer walked to Cragg's car but stated that Hardaway had gotten into the car with Sandifer and that the brothers had refused to give Griffin a ride home because "they were in too deep." At 4:30 p.m., two new detectives, John McCann and James Oliver, reiterated the Miranda warnings and then interviewed Hardaway, who repeated his story. McCann informed Hardaway that Griffin had said something different and walked him down the hall to show him that Griffin was in another interview room. At that point, Hardaway admitted that he did get into Cragg's car with Sandifer and that he was present when Cragg shot Sandifer under the viaduct shortly thereafter.
Questioning then ceased while an Assistant State's Attorney, Theresa Harney, and a youth officer, James Geraci, were contacted. At approximately 7:00 p.m., McCann, Harney, and Geraci met with Hardaway. Harney told Hardaway that Geraci was a youth officer and that he was present as an observer and to assist Hardaway if he had any questions or problems. Geraci then asked Hardaway if there was anything he could assist him with, to which Hardaway responded no. From that point onward, Geraci did absolutely nothing to assist Hardaway. Harney read Hardaway his Miranda rights yet again and informed him again that he could be tried as an adult. Hardaway then explained his rights back to Harney in his own words, stating that he did not have to speak with Harney if he didn't want to, that anything he told Harney she could tell a judge in a trial against him, that he could have an attorney there when he was questioned about the case, even if he or his family couldn't pay for one, and that his case could be moved out of juvenile court to adult court if the judge decided.
Hardaway gave a statement to Harney in which he again confessed to the crime and then agreed to repeat the statement to a court reporter. Another break was taken until the court reporter arrived at 10:45 p.m. At that time, Hardaway admitted that he and Cragg had been ordered by the leader of the Black Disciples to get rid of Sandifer, that he approached Sandifer on the Coopers' porch and brought him back to Cragg's car, that he accompanied Cragg and Sandifer to the viaduct, and that he watched out for police while Cragg shot Sandifer.
The state courts found that Hardaway's parents never tried to come to police headquarters to see their son, and Hardaway never asked for his parents or for an attorney. He was not physically abused or threatened by the detectives in any way. Hardaway had 19 previous arrests for charges including robbery, attempted criminal sexual assault, unauthorized use of a weapon, and delivery of a controlled substance, but he had never faced anything as serious as a murder charge. He had appeared in juvenile court with appointed counsel on seven occasions; there is no evidence, however, whether he had ever been advised of his Miranda rights on those occasions, and it appears that he had little or no experience in the adult criminal justice system.
Hardaway moved to suppress his confession. The trial court denied the motion, finding that the police had never prevented Hardaway from seeing his parents or an attorney; that a youth officer was present to assist Hardaway at his last two confessions; that there were no threats or abuse; that there was no evidence Hardaway suffered from any mental incapacity or handicap; and that he was already more familiar with the criminal justice system and with attorneys than most ordinary adult citizens would be in light of his numerous prior court referrals. It therefore found the confession to be voluntary under the totality of the ...