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People v. Edwards

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Third District

May 6, 2015

MATTHEW T. EDWARDS, Defendant-Appellant

Page 117

Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 12th Judicial Circuit, Will County, Illinois. Circuit No. 09-CF-1559. Honorable Amy Bertani-Tomczak, Judge, Presiding.

Bryon Kohut (argued), of State Appellate Defender's Office, of Ottawa, for appellant.

James Glasgow, State's Attorney, of Joliet (Judith Z. Kelly (argued), of State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Office, of counsel), for the People.

JUSTICE SCHMIDT delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justice Holdridge concurred in the judgment and opinion. Justice Wright concurred in part and dissented in part, with opinion.


Page 118


[¶1] Following a stipulated bench trial, the Will County circuit court found defendant, Matthew Edwards, guilty of first-degree murder and attempted murder.

[¶2] Prior to trial, defendant filed a motion to suppress, claiming his confession to police was involuntary based on the fact that he was 17 years old at the time, had a fifth grade reading level, suffered from various mental disorders, and that the investigating officers did not allow him to speak to his mother or another concerned adult despite his request to do so. The trial court denied the motion.

[¶3] The matter proceeded to a stipulated bench trial, following which the trial court found defendant guilty of both first-degree murder and attempted murder. The State dismissed the aggravated battery with a firearm, home invasion, and armed robbery counts.

[¶4] In the sentencing phase, the State sought enhanced sentences on both

Page 119

charges given that defendant personally discharged a firearm causing both death and great bodily harm. The trial court found that the State proved the enhancement factors and subsequently sentenced defendant to 50 years on the murder conviction and 40 years on the attempted murder conviction.

[¶5] On March 13, 2013, defendant filed a motion to reduce his sentence, arguing that it was excessive. The court denied the motion.

[¶6] Defendant appeals, claiming, inter alia, that: (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress where defendant was 17 years old at the time of the arrest, had a limited education, and did not have contact with a parent or concerned adult; (2) the trial court erred when it failed to hold the statutorily required fitness hearing after it found a bona fide doubt of his fitness to stand trial; (3) the defendant's 90-year sentence is unconstitutional under Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. __, 132 S.Ct. 2455, 183 L.Ed.2d 407 (2012), prohibiting offenders under the age of 18 from receiving mandatory life sentences; and (4) defendant is entitled to an additional day of presentence incarceration credit.

[¶7] We affirm as modified.


[¶9] The State charged defendant, along with codefendants Ashley Hill, Mary Vetor, and Jason Orasco by indictment with three counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted murder, one count of aggravated battery with a firearm, two counts of home invasion, and one count of armed robbery. The State named Jason Terdic as the victim in the murder, armed robbery, and first home invasion charges. The State named Lauren Vasilakis as the victim of the attempted murder, aggravated battery with a firearm, and second home invasion charges. The court appointed the public defender to represent defendant.

[¶10] On September 1, 2009, defendant filed a motion for the appointment of an expert to determine his fitness to stand trial and whether he was legally sane at the time of the alleged offenses. Defendant tendered a proposed order to the court indicating that the State had no objection.

[¶11] The court ordered Dr. Randi Zoot to examine defendant, determine if he was fit to stand trial, and if he was legally sane at the time of the offenses. The order stated, " [t]his matter coming on for hearing on defendant's motion for expert witness and for fitness hearing, and for other relief, said motion being uncontested by the People of the State of Illinois, and the court finding that a bona fide doubt exist [ sic ] as to defendant's fitness to stand trial *** it is hereby ordered" that Dr. Zoot examine defendant.

[¶12] Ultimately, Dr. Zoot filed a report finding defendant fit to stand trial and sane at the time of the alleged offenses.

[¶13] On November 29, 2010, defendant filed a motion to suppress his statements/confession to the police. The following testimony was elicited at the hearing on the motion.

[¶14] Detectives Jamie Marquez and Chris Georgeff, both of the Will County and Grundy County major crimes task force, testified that on July 7, 2009, they were dispatched to 512 Cayuga Street in Joliet to assist the Channahon police. Approximately 12 armed officers were there to execute an arrest warrant for Jason Orasco. Sergeant Talmontes directed Marquez and Georgeff to take defendant to the Channahon police department.

Page 120

[¶15] Marquez testified that prior to being taken to the police station, defendant voluntarily submitted to a gunshot residue (GSR) test. Georgeff could not recall if defendant submitted to a GSR test. Defendant voluntarily accompanied the officers to the station. The officers, both of whom were armed at the time, did not handcuff defendant. Defendant rode in the front seat of the squad car on the way to the station.

[¶16] Defendant's interview began at 5:45 p.m. Marquez read defendant the Miranda warnings line-by-line. Defendant indicated he understood his rights, initialed each line, and signed the form. Both officers were aware that defendant had just turned 17 years old.

[¶17] At first, the detectives were only trying to gather facts on defendant's whereabouts on July 7, 2009. They knew that Joshua Terdic had been shot in the head and was in critical condition at the time of the interview. Defendant initially told officers he was not in Channahon on July 7.

[¶18] The officers left the room to speak with the detectives who were interviewing Hill, Vetor and Orasco. Afterward, Marquez and Georgeff confronted defendant with the codefendants' statements indicating that defendant was, in fact, in Channahon on the day of the incident.

[¶19] Defendant's initial statements were not recorded as officers were unsure at that time whether he was a suspect. Georgeff stated that he and Marquez did not record the entire interview because they did not believe they were required to do so. Once defendant agreed to give a recorded statement, the last 30 minutes of the interview (which included defendant's confession) were recorded.

[¶20] According to Marquez, defendant did not request to speak to his mother. Georgeff could not recall if defendant asked to speak with his mother or if the police offered to allow defendant to call his mother. Marquez and Georgeff were trained as juvenile officers. Georgeff testified that he was " absolutely" acting in defendant's best interests. On recross-examination, defense counsel inquired if Georgeff was only doing what was minimally required to be in defendant's best interests, to which Georgeff responded, " Sure."

[¶21] Throughout the course of defendant's detainment and interrogation, he was not beaten or slapped, he was allowed to use the restroom, and he was allowed food and water if he so desired. Officers did not inquire as to whether or not defendant had trouble reading or suffered from any mental illness. Defendant did not volunteer this information, nor did he appear to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Marquez testified they never informed defendant that his GSR test came back positive, though Georgeff could not recall.

[¶22] The interrogation took place in a conference room, not an interview room. The door was not locked. Despite that, defendant would probably not have been able to leave the building. The interrogation concluded at 8:16 p.m.

[¶23] Once officers indicated to defendant that his friends placed him at the scene of the crime, he subsequently gave a statement, which he agreed to have recorded. The tape began at 7:50 p.m. and ended at 8:16 p.m.

[¶24] The State offered the digital versatile disc (DVD) of defendant's confession into evidence and the trial judge watched it in her chambers. In the DVD, defendant acknowledged receiving his Miranda rights and answered affirmatively that he knew all his rights. Defendant gave the

Page 121

following narrative of the events of the previous night/early morning of July 7.

[¶25] He was drinking with friends at Mary Vetor's house, went to sleep, and was awakened by Jason. Jason knew a place where they could get money and drugs. Defendant said, " Okay, let's go." Ashley and Mary drove the two men; Mary got a ticket while parked outside. Jason grabbed a shovel, which defendant used to break into the apartment. Defendant then unlocked the bedroom door with a knife he had taken from the kitchen.

[¶26] The sleeping couple woke up while defendant and Jason searched for money and drugs. Jason said to tie them up, so defendant and Jason did so. Jason hit the male victim in the knee with a baseball bat, breaking the bat. Jason had brought the bat and the gun. The victims were screaming and Jason told defendant to shoot, to " Just do it." Jason ordered the male victim to put his head under the pillow. Defendant just wanted to scare the male victim and, as Jason was yelling at defendant to shoot and kill him, defendant shot at the pillow. He then lifted the pillow off the male ...

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