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People v. Jones

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, First Division

March 24, 2014

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
RAYMOND JONES, Defendant-Appellant

Page 471

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 472

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 08 CR 19003. Honorable Domenica Stephenson and Kenneth Wadas, Judges Presiding.

Affirmed as modified.

SYLLABUS

In defendant's appeal from his conviction for first degree murder for a gang-related shooting, defendant forfeited his objection to the trial court's brief questioning of two venirepersons in camera by failing to object, and regardless of the forfeiture, the procedure was too trivial to implicate the sixth amendment; additionally, the appellate court rejected defendant's contention that the opinion of the State's expert in forensic psychiatry that defendant could understand the Miranda warnings, despite his low IQ, was unreliable, and the trial court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to find defendant mentally impaired for purposes of sentencing or in imposing a 75-year sentence; however, the mittimus was corrected to reflect only one conviction for first degree murder, since only one person was killed.

For APPELLANT, Office of the State Appellate Defender, Chicago, IL (Michael J. Pelletier, Alan D. Goldberg, James J. Morissey, of counsel).

For APPELLEE, Office of the Cook County State's Attorney, Chicago, IL (Anita Alvarez, Alan J. Spellberg, Christine Cook, Peter Maltese, of counsel).

JUSTICE DELORT delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Hoffman and Cunningham concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

DELORT, JUSTICE.

Page 473

[¶1] Following a jury trial, defendant Raymond Jones was convicted of first degree murder (720 ILCS 5/9-1 (West 2010)) and sentenced to 75 years' imprisonment. On appeal, defendant contends that: (1) he was denied a public trial when the trial court held a portion of voir dire in camera ; (2) the trial court erred in finding that defendant's inculpatory statements to the police were knowing and voluntary; (3) his sentence is excessive; and (4) one of his two convictions for first degree murder should be vacated. We affirm as modified.

[¶2] I. BACKGROUND

[¶3] Defendant Raymond Jones and codefendants Luis Pena, Antoine Lacy, and Joseph Chico were charged by indictment with, inter alia, first degree murder in connection with the shooting death of 10-year-old Nequiel Fowler.[1] Defendant and codefendants Pena and Lacy were tried simultaneously before three separate juries. Codefendant Chico agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit murder with a 14-year sentence in exchange for his testimony against defendant and the other codefendants.

[¶4] A. Defendant's Motion to Suppress Statements

[¶5] Before trial, defendant moved to suppress certain statements that he made to the police and an assistant State's Attorney. Defendant claimed that his inculpatory statements were involuntarily made because of his intelligence, his age, and his history of emotional and psychological problems. Defendant noted that his intelligence quotient (IQ) had recently been found to be 77 (placing him in the sixth percentile), that he was only 18, and that he suffered from severe depression since 2004 and a " severe emotional disturbance" since the second grade. Defendant concluded that, under the totality of the circumstances, his statements were involuntarily made and in violation of his rights under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966).

[¶6] At the hearing on his motion to suppress, Chicago police detective Michele Moore-Grose testified that, at around 4 p.m. on September 1, 2008, she and her partner, Detective Pat Ford, were assigned to investigate the shooting death of Fowler. Moore-Grose stated that they went to the scene and spoke to defendant, who claimed to have information regarding the shooting. According to Moore-Grose, defendant said that he saw the shooter and described the shooter as a black male, 20 to 30 years old, 5 feet 9 inches tall, weighing 200 pounds, and having braided hair. Moore-Grose, however, stated that they subsequently learned from codefendant Lacy that the shooter (Pena) and Chico were Hispanic, not black. Moore-Grose then called defendant and asked if they could again speak to defendant at defendant's home. Defendant agreed, and Moore-Grose met defendant outside the residence. Moore-Grose told defendant that they had received " conflicting information" regarding the shooter. According to Moore-Grose, defendant then began to cry, admitted lying to them, and also admitted that he hid the gun.

[¶7] At that point, Moore-Grose placed defendant under arrest, put him in the back of her squad car, and advised defendant

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of his Miranda rights. Moore-Grose said that she read the rights to defendant from her " FOP book" and asked defendant whether he understood each individual right she had read to him. Defendant indicated he understood each of those rights, but he still wished to speak to them. Defendant, who was very upset and crying, said that he had hidden the gun on top of a kitchen cabinet in his apartment. The detectives received consent to search defendant's apartment and recovered the weapon. They then took defendant to the police station and placed him in an interview room that was video-recorded.

[¶8] At around 2 a.m. on September 2, 2008, Moore-Grose and her partner again spoke with defendant. Moore-Grose said that they read defendant his Miranda rights. Defendant subsequently made various statements implicating himself in Fowler's murder. The video recording of this interview was played for the jury.

[¶9] Dr. Fidel Echevarria, who was accepted by stipulation as an expert witness in the field of forensic psychiatry, testified that he was a staff psychiatrist for Cook County Forensic Clinical Services. Echevarria stated that he was asked to evaluate defendant specifically for his ability to understand his Miranda rights. Echevarria reviewed various records regarding defendant, including a previous psychological summary prepared by his colleague, Dr. Eric Neu. In addition, Echevarria met with defendant on March 4, 2011. Echevarria stated that he spent approximately three hours in preparing his report, which included about one hour for his in-person evaluation of defendant.

[¶10] Echevarria recounted that Neu had administered a " Wechsler IQ test" that resulted in defendant obtaining a score of 77, which Echevarria said indicated a " borderline intellectual functioning range." Echevarria stated that Neu later opined following a subsequent evaluation that defendant was capable of understanding his Miranda rights.

[¶11] With respect to his in-person evaluation of defendant, Echevarria testified that defendant understood the purpose of the evaluation and that the evaluation would not remain confidential. As to the Miranda rights, Echevarria said that defendant recounted that those rights included the right to remain silent, that anything defendant said could be used against him in court, and that he had the right to an attorney. Echevarria noted that, when he asked defendant the meaning of the term " right," defendant " thought several seconds and then responded, 'a choice.'" Defendant further explained that the right to remain silent meant that " you have to decide *** if you are going to talk or not to the police or to the State lawyer." Next, defendant told Echevarria that the warning that anything defendant said could be used against him in court meant that, " if you make a decision to talk to the police or the State lawyer, that you are giving them evidence, basically you are helping them hang you." Defendant said that the right to an attorney meant that he could " ask the police to let [him] get a private lawyer," and that when he was at the police station, he could have asked for a public defender. Finally, Echevarria asked defendant regarding his right to have an attorney present during questioning. Defendant commented that " that's helpful, because a lawyer would be there to help you," and speculated that an attorney would recommend remaining silent and not speaking to the police other than to tell them that " you want to follow your Miranda rights."

[¶12] After reviewing the video recordings of defendant's interviews that took place over a three-day period, Echevarria testified that there were " no specific or

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clear indications of any cognitive impairments or symptoms of any form of thought disorder." Echevarria thus opined that defendant was able to understand his Miranda rights at the time of his statement.

[¶13] On cross-examination, Echevarria agreed that defendant had also been administered a " Stanford-Binet IQ test" in 2004, when defendant was 14, that resulted in a score of 76. Echevarria, however, denied that defendant's later score of 77 meant that defendant was mentally retarded because the classification of mental retardation has a " maximum" IQ of 75 and " indications of adaptive functioning problems." Echevarria, however, conceded that defendant's score of 77 could be as low as 73 due to the standard of error in administering the test, which would be within the mental retardation range. Echevarria also conceded that the score of 77 under the IQ test administered by Neu on November 30, 2010, comprised four subtests: verbal comprehension, working memory, perceptional reasoning, and processing speed, and that defendant's score on the verbal comprehension subtest was 68, placing him in the second percentile, the " extremely low" range. Echevarria, however, added that he had never seen any reports suggesting that someone with borderline intellectual functioning was more easily coerced or more easily suggestible than anyone else. Concerning the Miranda rights, Echevarria admitted that defendant said that he had been in jail " for almost two years and *** learned from reading over and over again in the law library what [those rights] mean." Finally, Echevarria agreed that the video recording indicated that defendant was not given a definition of the words " waiver" and " counsel," but Echevarria stated ...


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