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People v. Montgomery

September 13, 2007

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
CHAD MONTGOMERY, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Clair County. No. 03-CF-84 Honorable Milton S. Wharton, Judge, presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Wexstten

Published opinion

NOTICE

Decision filed 09/13/2007. The text of this decision may be changed or corrected prior to the filing of a Petition for Rehearing or the disposition of the same.

The State appeals from the circuit court's order granting the defendant's motion to suppress statements. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

BACKGROUND

In 2003, the defendant, an 18-year-old resident of Arnold, Missouri, was charged with burglarizing a locksmith business located in Cahokia, Illinois. The defendant later moved to suppress inculpatory statements that he had made to officers from the Arnold police department and the Cahokia police department. In 2005, at a hearing on the defendant's motion to suppress, the following evidence was adduced.

In January 2003, the defendant lived with his parents at their home in Arnold, Missouri. As a local firefighter, the defendant's father, Lloyd Montgomery, was acquainted with many of the local police. On the evening of January 21, 2003, acting on information implicating the defendant in a series of thefts and burglaries, Officer Gerald Abernathy of the Arnold police department contacted Lloyd and advised him that he wanted to search the defendant's room for stolen property. At approximately 9 p.m., Lloyd consented to the search, and numerous items of stolen property were subsequently found and seized. The defendant, who was present during the search, was then transported to the Arnold police department, where he gave a series of incriminating statements. The recovered stolen property ultimately led to the solving of more than 90 crimes, all of which occurred in Missouri with the exception of the Cahokia burglary.

Officer Abernathy testified that the defendant was read his Miranda rights (Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 16 L.Ed. 2d 694, 86 S.Ct. 1602 (1966)) in Lloyd's presence while Lloyd was filling out a consent-to-search form. Abernathy indicated that Lieutenant Wieland of the Arnold police department was also present. Abernathy did not testify that the defendant waived or indicated that he understood his Miranda rights after they were read to him, and although available, Lieutenant Wieland was not called to testify. Abernathy stated that the defendant was cooperative during the search and agreed to go to the police station for questioning. Abernathy acknowledged that the defendant was not given a choice on where the questioning would occur. Abernathy stated that the defendant was placed in an interview room at the station while the recovered stolen property was being unloaded and that the room's door was left partially open. Had the door been shut, he explained, the defendant would not have been able to open it from inside the room. The subsequent interview occurred in the same room and was videotaped. Abernathy initially testified that the defendant read and signed a Miranda waiver form at the beginning of the interview but later acknowledged that he and Detective Robert Streckfuss had interviewed the defendant for several hours before giving him a Miranda waiver form to read and sign. Prior to reading and signing the waiver, the defendant confessed to numerous thefts and burglaries, "made a statement that he had broken into a locksmith business in Illinois," and described the location of the business. At around 2 a.m. on January 22, the defendant read and signed a Miranda waiver form and began writing a statement recounting what he had already admitted. The defendant completed the written statement at 3:20 a.m. and was formally arrested and booked shortly before 4 a.m. Breaks were taken during the course of the interview.

Detective Robert Streckfuss of the Arnold police department testified that he was a detective on January 21, 2003, and that he transported the defendant from the defendant's house to the police station. The defendant was then placed in an interview room while he and Officer Abernathy unloaded the recovered stolen property. Streckfuss indicated that the interview room's door was shut while the property was being unloaded, but he stated that the defendant would have been able to open the door from inside the room. Streckfuss testified that when later questioned, the defendant was not initially given the Miranda warnings because they were conducting an "informal interview" and because he was under the impression that Abernathy had previously advised the defendant of his rights at the house. Streckfuss did not indicate that he was also under the impression that the defendant had acknowledged or waived his rights at the house, nor did he indicate that he was under the impression that the defendant had agreed to give a statement. Streckfuss stated that the defendant had been interviewed for two to three hours before he was given a Miranda waiver form. Streckfuss recalled that the defendant initially denied committing any crime, but Streckfuss did not recall telling the defendant that "the rules were going to change" if he persisted in his denials. The defendant signed the Miranda waiver form before writing his "formal statement." Streckfuss acknowledged that they "waited" to give the defendant a Miranda waiver form "until after he confessed to everything," including the Cahokia burglary. Streckfuss estimated that including the "several breaks" that were taken, the entire interview process lasted approximately 41/2 hours. Following the defendant's arrest at approximately 4 a.m., the defendant was placed in a jail cell, and Streckfuss contacted the Cahokia police department. A dispatcher with the Cahokia police department advised Streckfuss that someone would get back to him. Streckfuss acknowledged that he advised the defendant to cooperate with the Cahokia police.

Detective David Landmann of the Cahokia police department testified that he contacted Detective Streckfuss shortly after 8 a.m. on January 22. Streckfuss explained that the defendant was in custody and had confessed to burglarizing a locksmith business in Cahokia. Landmann was familiar with the crime and proceeded to the Arnold police department. Shortly before 11 a.m., Landmann read the defendant his Miranda rights in the interview room and gave him a Miranda waiver form. The defendant signed the form before providing Landmann with a written statement regarding the Cahokia burglary. Officer Abernathy was present while Landmann interviewed the defendant. Landmann acknowledged that prior to commencing an interview with a suspect "in custody," he always administers the Miranda warnings and obtains the suspect's signature on a Miranda waiver form.

Lloyd Montgomery testified that when he signed the consent-to-search form, Officer Abernathy, Lieutenant Wieland, and the defendant were present but that Abernathy did not advise the defendant of his Miranda rights. After the search was complete, the officers told the defendant that he "had to go down to the station to answer questions." Lloyd asked if he could accompany the defendant but was told that he could not and would have to come down to the station the following morning.

The defendant testified that before January 21, 2003, he had never had any contact with the police and had never "been in trouble." The defendant stated that following the search of his house, he was told that he had to go to the Arnold police department to answer questions and was given no choice in the matter. The defendant stated that he was placed in an interview room, the door was closed, and he was unable to open the door when he attempted to do so. The defendant stated that his attempt to open the door could be seen on the videotape of the initial interview. Around 11 p.m., Abernathy and Streckfuss entered the room and began questioning him. He was not advised of his Miranda rights at the time and was not familiar with the rights. The defendant testified that when he denied committing the crimes in question, the officers became angry and told him that they were "going to have to change the rules" if he was not going to be honest with them. The defendant eventually agreed to tell them everything, and his confession included admitting his involvement in the Cahokia burglary. Around 2 a.m., the defendant read and signed a Miranda waiver form, but prior thereto, he had neither been advised of nor waived his Miranda rights. The defendant further stated, "[B]y then[,] I had told them everything that I had done." Streckfuss later told the defendant that he should tell the Cahokia police the truth. At 4 a.m. the defendant went to sleep, but he was awakened three hours later so that he could be interviewed by investigators from St. Louis County. His interview with the St. Louis County investigators lasted several hours. He was then interviewed by the Cahokia police.

At the hearing, defense counsel contended that the defendant's statements should be suppressed because the Arnold police delayed administering the Miranda warnings until after the defendant had confessed. At the same time, defense counsel twice stated that the defendant was not alleging any wrongdoing on the part of the Cahokia police. When granting the defendant's motion to suppress the statements that he had made to both the Arnold police and the Cahokia police, the circuit court concluded that the statements had been obtained in violation of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 16 L.Ed. 2d 694, 86 S.Ct. 1602 (1966). Referring to Officer Abernathy's inability to "recall clearly," Lieutenant Wieland's failure to testify, and Lloyd's unimpeached testimony, the court indicated that it was resolving the dispute regarding whether the defendant had been read his Miranda rights at his home in favor of the defendant. The court also noted that the defendant had been questioned for several hours before Miranda warnings were given and that the warnings were given only "after he had agreed to make a formal statement." The court further determined that the subsequent interview by the Cahokia police "was directly associated and related to the first interrogation" and that the two ...


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