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Henriksen v. Picardi

February 7, 2006


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Magistrate Judge Geraldine Soat Brown


Plaintiff Bruce T. Henriksen ("Henriksen") brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that police officers Thomas Shergold, Robert Beeter, Ronald Spejcher and James Picardi, and the City of Elgin (collectively, "Defendants"), violated Henriksen's constitutional rights when they "conspired to present false and wholly misleading testimony to the Grand Jury and at trial" and "failed to investigate 'routine evidence' at the scene of the crime." (Pl.'s 2nd Am. Compl. ¶¶ 60-64.) [Dkt 23.]*fn1 Henriksen also alleges supplemental state law claims for malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress ("IIED"), and, against the City of Elgin only, a claim of respondeat superior. (Id. ¶¶ 65-86.) Defendants have moved for summary judgment.*fn2 [Dkt 63.] The parties have consented to the jurisdiction of a United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). [Dkt 36-39.] For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion for summary judgment is granted in part and denied in part. It is granted as to Henriksen's § 1983 and conspiracy claims against the movants. With respect to Henriksen's supplemental state law claims, Defendants' motion is denied without prejudice.


In 1997 and again in 1999, Henriksen was charged with the murder of Doreen Drjanski. In 2001, Henriksen was acquitted after a jury trial. Henriksen's claim involves Defendants' investigation of the crime and testimony before the grand juries that indicted him. Some factual background is necessary to understand the basis of this lawsuit. Some of that factual background is undisputed. Other matters about Ms. Drjanski's murder are disputed and may never be resolved. However, what is relevant to the present claim is Defendants' investigation and testimony. A significant problem with the parties' presentation of the evidence, especially Henriksen's, is a failure to differentiate between what Defendants knew at the relevant times and what Henriksen believes to be the truth or what appears to be true in hindsight.

A. Henriksen and Doreen Drjanski

Henriksen met Doreen Drjanski in approximately October 1996 at the Elgin Mental Health Center, where he was a patient obtaining treatment for his bipolar disorder. (Pl.'s LR Resp. ¶ 1; Defs.' LR Ex. B, Henriksen Dep. at 65.) Ms. Drjanski was also a patient at the Elgin Mental Health Center. (Defs.' LR Ex. J, 2nd Grand Jury Proceeding Trans. at 7.) Shortly after they met, Ms. Drjanski began renting a room in Henriksen's home, and the two began a sexual relationship that lasted a few months. (Pl.'s LR Resp. ¶ 1.) One other tenant, Daniel Fluellen, also lived in Henriksen's home during this time period. (Pl.'s LR Ex. J, Shergold Report.)

Henriksen testified that he cared for Ms. Drjanski and tried to make sure that she took her medication. (Defs.' LR Resp. ¶ 99.) During their relationship, Ms. Drjanski "'broke[] her word' to him" by refusing to take her medication and engaging in prostitution. (Pl.'s LR Resp. ¶ 2; Defs.' LR Resp. ¶ 100.) According to Henriksen, he ended the sexual relationship with Ms. Drjanski after approximately two months, or around December 1996, because he was involved with another woman. (Pl.'s LR Resp. ¶¶ 1, 2; Defs.' LR Resp. ¶ 98.)

In early January 1997, Henriksen told Ms. Drjanski several times to leave his home, and he eventually sought the assistance of the Elgin Police Department to try to have her removed from his home. (Pl.'s LR Resp. ¶ 3.) Henriksen also spoke with Ms. Drjanski's father, her brothers and a co-worker about his desire to have her leave his home and the problems he was having with her, including her failure to take her medication. (Pl.'s LR Resp. ¶ 4; Defs.' LR Resp. ¶ 99.) According to Henriksen, Ms. Drjanski was scheduled to move out voluntarily by the end of January. (Defs.' LR Resp. ¶ 100.) However, on January 22, 1997, three months after she had moved into Henriksen's home, Ms. Drjanski was found murdered there. (Pl.'s LR Resp. ¶¶ 1, 6, 8.)

B. Investigation Into the Events Surrounding Ms. Drjanski's Murder

On January 22, 1997, at around 7:30 or 7:45 a.m., Henriksen went to his job at Arlington Nissan where he was a car salesman and told his general manager, James Johnson, that he "need[ed] [his] paycheck right now." (Pl.'s LR Resp. ¶¶ 5, 6.) In an interview following Henriksen's arrest, Mr. Johnson told investigators, and later testified at trial, that Henriksen looked "ghostly" in color, was unshaven and was poorly dressed. (Id. at ¶ 6.) According to one of the police reports subsequently filed, Mr. Johnson stated that it appeared that Henriksen was going to "gang tackle" him that morning. (Defs.' LR Ex. Z, Shergold Report at BH-48; Pl.'s LR Stmt. ¶ 50; Defs.' LR Resp. ¶ 50.) Henriksen left work but returned at around 11:30 a.m., at which time he advised Mr. Johnson that he was quitting his job and asked when he could pick up his final paycheck. (Pl.'s LR Resp. ¶¶ 5, 6.) According to Henriksen, he then returned home, where he saw Ms. Drjanski sitting on her bed smoking a cigarette. (Pl.'s LR Resp. ¶ 7.) Approximately 30 to 45 minutes later, Henriksen left his home to run errands. (Id.; Defs.' LR Ex. B, Henriksen Dep. at 101.)*fn4 After running errands, Henriksen went to his mother's home in Elgin where he stayed from approximately 5:00 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. before returning home again. (Pl.'s LR Resp. ¶ 7.)

Henriksen testified that upon arriving home, he found his back door ajar, but did not see any sign that it had been forced open, nor any sign that any windows had been forced open. (Id. at ¶ 8.) Shortly thereafter, Henriksen discovered Ms. Drjanski's body lying motionless on her bed. (Id.) He noticed a small amount of white foam coming from her mouth and faint purple marks on both sides of her throat and neck. (Id.) He performed CPR on Ms. Drjanski for a short time before calling 911. (Id. at ¶ 9.) Henriksen told the operator that he wanted to report a murder and that it looked like Ms. Drjanski had been choked. (Id.) Approximately three minutes later, Elgin police officers arrived at Henriksen's home and began investigating the crime. (Id. at ¶ 10.)

C. The Elgin Police Department's Investigation

1. The Interview of Henriksen

Henriksen was interviewed by detectives James Picardi and Robert Beeter on the evening of the murder. (Id. at ¶ 18.) During that interview, Henriksen told the officers essentially the same information described above about his relationship with Ms. Drjanski, quitting his job on that day and returning home after being at his mother's house. (Id.) He also said that when he arrived home he found the rear door ajar even though he had a practice of keeping the doors locked while he was gone. (Id.; Defs.' LR Resp. ¶¶ 3, 5.) Henriksen did not provide the police with the names of any witnesses who could corroborate his whereabouts between 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. on the day of the murder. (Pl.'s LR Resp. ¶ 19.)

2. Detective Beeter's Investigation

Detective Beeter, who was the first detective to arrive at the murder scene, found no signs of forced entry through either the doors or the windows. (Id. at ¶ 13; Defs.' LR Resp. ¶ 1.) Beeter testified that there was no evidence to suggest that someone who had been in the residence had left the door open. (Defs.' LR Resp. ¶ 5.) Beeter believed that evidence that the door had been left open was not necessarily an indication that anyone had entered the home after Henriksen had left because Ms. Drjanski could have opened the door herself. (Pl.'s LR Resp. ¶ 13.)

Beeter conducted an interview of Henriksen's mother, Lynn Maxwell. Ms. Maxwell stated that Henriksen had come to her home that evening after 5:00 p.m. and stayed for dinner. (Id. at ¶ 14.) Beeter also interviewed a neighbor, Barbara Miller. Ms. Miller told Beeter that two weeks before the murder she had witnessed Henriksen kissing a woman outside his home. (Defs.' LR Resp. ¶ 4.) Beeter testified that he did not ask Ms. Miller who the woman was or whether she was Ms. Drjanski, because he did not see the significance of it. (Id.)

Beeter was unable to verify with any witnesses Henriksen's whereabouts between noon and 5:00 p.m. (Pl.'s LR Resp. ¶ 14.) Beeter filed a report indicating that Henriksen had told police that he had been at his mother's home between 5:00 and 7:45 p.m., which Beeter had confirmed with Henriksen's mother. (Id. at ¶ 33.) Beeter further stated in his report that when Henriksen returned home he had found his door partially opened, and that he always kept his doors closed and locked. (Id. at ¶ 34.)

3. Detective Picardi's Investigation

The lead detective in the case, defendant James Picardi, testified at his deposition that when he arrived at the scene, there was foam coming out of Ms. Drjanski's mouth and purplish marks on her neck. (Defs.' LR Resp. ¶¶ 14, 16.)*fn5 Picardi's report documented that "it should be noted that the area around the neck of [Ms. Drjanski] and her hands appeared to be somewhat discolored." (Pl.'s LR Resp. ¶ 16.)

Picardi testified, also at his deposition, that DNA tests were conducted on the matter scraped from under Ms. Drjanski's fingernails but no attempt was made to match this DNA with Henriksen's DNA. (Defs.' LR Resp. ¶ 18; Pl.'s LR Ex. C, Picardi Dep. at 31-32.) Picardi testified that he attempted to locate fingerprints on the open rear door shortly after his arrival by shining a flashlight on the door, but did not see any and therefore did not ask the evidence technician to dust the door for prints. (Defs.' LR Resp. ¶ 20.)*fn6 Although Henriksen had told Picardi that Ms. Drjanski was a prostitute, he did not follow up on that information with anyone other than Henriksen, and did not attempt to locate Ms. Drjanski's address book. (Id. at ¶ 15.) Picardi testified that he never conducted any investigation into Ms. Drjanski's ex-husband, with whom Ms. Drjanski was engaged in a custody dispute, because there was nothing to indicate that he had anything to do with the murder. (Id.)

4. Officer Spejcher's Investigation

Officer Ronald Spejcher, an evidence technician, was responsible for photographing and collecting evidence at the scene. Spejcher collected and preserved three empty bottles of Red Bull beer, one cigarette butt found on Ms. Drjanski's sweater, a hair fiber, a change purse containing $170, prescription bottles, bedding material, and fibers found on the bed. (Pl.'s LR Resp. ¶ 11; Defs.' LR Resp. ¶¶ 41, 42.) Those items were placed in a sealed envelope and kept in the police evidence room. (Pl.'s LR Resp. ¶ 11.) Spejcher prepared a report referring to the items taken from the scene that had been placed in evidence. (Id. at ¶ 35.)

Spejcher testified that he had the authority to order a DNA test conducted on the cigarette butts, but that Picardi had told him that he would take care of any lab requests. (Defs.' LR Resp. ¶ 44.) Spejcher testified that he likely would have ordered DNA testing, although he did not think the cigarette butts were connected to the crime. (Id.) Spejcher did not collect various cigarette butts found in a coffee cup near Ms. Drjanski's body because he did not believe they were connected to the crime either. (Pl.'s LR Resp. ¶ 11; Defs.' LR Resp. ¶ 43.) Nor did he take any fingerprints from the murder scene. (Pl.'s LR Resp. ¶ 12; Defs.' LR Resp. ¶ 45.)

5. Other Investigative Actions

Detective Ray Rodriguez, a fingerprint specialist, also reported to Henriksen's home on the night of the murder. Rodriguez observed discoloration on Ms. Drjanski's neck, which he concluded was a post-mortem artifact caused by lividity or pooling of the blood after death. (Pl.'s LR Resp. ¶ 12.) Rodriguez attempted to take fingerprints off Ms. Drjanski's body with a forensic light source. (Id.; Defs.' LR Ex. L, Rodriguez Trial Testimony at 145.) Rodriguez did not examine the beer bottles in the room for fingerprints. (See Defs.' LR Resp. ¶¶ 19, 21; Picardi Dep. at 34.)

Officer Miklitsch reported to Henriksen's home on the night of the murder as well, and interviewed some of Henriksen's neighbors. (Pl.'s LR Resp. ¶ 15.) According to his report, Miklitsch spoke with Henriksen's neighbor, Harry Potter, who saw a woman he had never seen before enter the side door of Henriksen's home without a key at around 1:00 p.m. on the day of the murder. (Id.; Defs.' LR Resp. ¶ 24; Defs.' LR Ex. Q, Miklitsch Report.) Picardi testified that he did not really consider the information regarding the unknown woman to be a lead and did not investigate to find out who this woman was because he assumed it was Ms. Drjanski. (Defs.' LR Resp. ¶ 24; Pl.'s LR Ex. C, Picardi Dep. at 62.)

Officer Copeland, another officer who visited the murder scene, prepared a report documenting, as other officers had, that there were "very faint purple marks on [Ms. Drjanski's] neck." (Pl.'s LR Resp. ¶ 16.)

6. The Medical Examiner's Examination

Ms. Drjanski's body was taken to a medical examiner, Dr. Cogan, for further examination. Picardi's report noted that, before conducting the internal examination, Dr. Cogan identified petechial*fn7 hemorrhages, and stated that such hemorrhages are common in deaths caused by strangulation. (Pl.'s LR Resp. ¶ 17.) After an internal examination, Dr. Cogan determined that Ms. Drjanski had died of strangulation. (Pl.'s LR Ex. N, Dr. Cogan's Report at 3; Def.'s LR Ex. G, First Grand Jury Trans. at 5-6.)

D. Henriksen's Admission to Donald Harrison

Donald Harrison, Ms. Drjanski's father, gave a statement to Picardi on January 24, 1997, which was recorded on January 25, 1997 and transcribed. (Pl.'s LR Ex. D, Suppl. Police Report at SAO-30, SAO-32-33.) Mr. Harrison told Picardi that on the night of the murder, Henriksen called Harrison and stated, "she got violent," and "she's gone," before explaining to Harrison that Ms. Drjanski was dead. (Defs.' LR Resp. ¶ 29.) Mr. Harrison said that he told Henriksen to call 911 and that he would come over. (Id.) Mr. Harrison called 911 afterwards and told the operator that someone might be having a "physical problem." (Defs.' LR Ex. T, Trans. of 911 call at 39; see Defs.' LR Resp. ¶ 34.) Mr. Harrison also asked the operator to let him know what happened as soon as she heard back from the officers at the scene, because he would "have to come out there." (Defs.' LR Ex. T, Trans. of 911 call at 40; Defs.' LR Resp.¶ 34.) Mr. Harrison never went to Henriksen's house that night. (Defs.' LR Resp.¶ 34.) Mr. Harrison's wife stated that she and her husband may have consumed alcoholic beverages that night. (Id. at ¶ 74.) She further testified that it never occurred to her to go to Henriksen's house as she was in a state of turmoil and probably could not drive. (Id. at ¶ 76.) Henriksen testified that Mr. Harrison sounded intoxicated when they spoke that night. (Id. at ¶ 91.)

Mr. Harrison told Picardi that he spoke with Henriksen again the next day, and told Henriksen that he was sorry Henriksen had to go through this, sorry for his daughter, and sorry that they had to suffer a second death in the family. (Pl.'s LR Stmt. ¶ 30; Defs.' LR Ex. E, Harrison Stmt. at 436.) (Mr. Harrison's son had committed suicide earlier that year). (Defs.' LR Ex. E, Harrison Stmt. at 427.) The following day (two days after the murder, January 24, 1997), Henriksen spoke to Mr. Harrison again. Mr. Harrison told Picardi that Henriksen said that he "did it," and he "put her out of her misery," in reference to Ms. Drjanski's murder. (Pl.'s LR Resp. ¶ 21; Defs.' LR Resp. ¶ 31.) Mr. Harrison told Picardi that he never explored Henriksen's alleged admission, explaining that both he and Henriksen felt sorry for each other. (Defs.' LR Resp. ¶ 36.) Telephone records verified that two phone calls were made from Henriksen's home to Harrison's home that day (January 24, 1997). (Pl.'s LR Resp. ¶ 21; Defs.' LR Resp. ¶ 33.)*fn8

Mr. Harrison also told police that he had made plans to meet Henriksen at Henriksen's home at 11:00 a.m. on January 25 to collect clothes in which to bury Ms. Drjanski.*fn9 (Defs.' LR Resp. ¶¶ 32, 77, 85.) Picardi testified at his deposition that he found that behavior unusual, but explained that the Harrisons were not "normal people." (Defs.' LR Resp. ¶ 37.)

E. Henriksen's Arrest

On January 25, 1997, the State's Attorney for Kane County filed a Complaint for Preliminary Hearing charging Henriksen with Ms. Drjanski's murder. (Defs.' LR Ex. N.) The Complaint appears to have been signed and verified by Sergeant Mark Brictson, who is not one of the defendants in this lawsuit. (Id.)*fn10 The verification refers to a "foregoing Information" but the record does not contain any affidavits or information that may have been filed in support of the arrest warrant. (Id.) The lower half of the form reflects that a Kane County judge made a finding of probable cause to arrest Henriksen, and ordered an arrest warrant to issue on January 25, 1997. (Id.) The document signed by the judge was filed by the State's Attorney on January 27, 1997. (Id.) Apparently, Henriksen was arrested ...

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