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People v. Wall

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fifth District

October 12, 2016

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
ROBERT KEVIN WALL, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Williamson County. No. 12-CF-40 Honorable John Speroni, Judge, presiding.

          Attorney for Appellant Mark A. Kochan, Kochan & Kochan, P.C.

          Attorneys for Appellee Hon. Brandon Zanotti, State's Attorney, Patrick Delfino, Director, David J. Robinson, Acting Deputy Director, Jennifer Camden, Staff Attorney, Office of the State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor.

          JUSTICE GOLDENHERSH delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Schwarm and Justice Welch concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          GOLDENHERSH, JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 After a stipulated bench trial in the circuit court of Williamson County, defendant, Robert Wall, was found guilty of production of cannabis sativa plants (720 ILCS 550/8(c) (West 2010)) and sentenced to 24 months' intensive probation as agreed upon by the parties and ordered to pay costs, including fines and fees. In this appeal, we find the trial court erred when it denied defendant's motion to quash arrest and suppress evidence and statements based upon involuntary consent to search his residence. Accordingly, defendant's conviction must be reversed and the cause remanded for further proceedings.

         ¶ 2 BACKGROUND

         ¶ 3 On November 16, 2011, at approximately 4:30 p.m. Officer Jeff Gill, a Carbondale police officer who was working with the Southern Illinois Enforcement Group (SEIG), went to defendant's home in Johnston City without a warrant because he suspected defendant might be involved in growing cannabis. No one was home at the house, so he called defendant, a mechanic, who was at work. Gill falsely represented to defendant that he was a member of the Illinois State Police and that someone tried to break into defendant's house. Gill told defendant there were broken windows in the back of his house, and while he did not believe anyone entered into his house, the police had a suspect. Those representations were also false. Gill instructed defendant to come home immediately.

         ¶ 4 When defendant arrived home, he saw a large sports utility vehicle (SUV) parked in his driveway, a large cargo trailer in his front yard parked behind another vehicle, and approximately six people he did not know walking on his property and looking toward his windows. The people on his property were SEIG officers, all of whom were wearing casual clothes with badges hanging around their necks or clipped to their belts. All the officers were armed. Officer Gill, who is 6 feet 6 inches tall and weighs 390 pounds, approached defendant, who is 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighs 180 pounds, and correctly identified himself as a Carbondale police officer affiliated with SEIG. Gill told defendant his house had not been broken into and the police did not have any suspects, but the police were there because they had information that defendant was growing marijuana in his home. Defendant asked Gill why he thought there was a growing operation in his house, and Gill told him he was "on a list" and it was "good information." Gill asked defendant for permission to enter the house. Defendant asked Gill if he had a warrant.

         ¶ 5 Defendant described Gill as "a big individual" and said Gill was close to his face when he was talking to him. According to defendant, Gill was initially "calm, business like, " but after defendant asked about a warrant, Gill became agitated and told defendant if he made him get a warrant defendant was going to jail and "it's going to go hard on you." Gill denied telling defendant he would go hard on him. However, according to defendant, Gill told him he knew he had a growing operation, and if he would consent for the police to search without a warrant, he would not have to go to jail. On the other hand, Gill testified that all he told defendant was if he cooperated and consented to the search, he would not go to jail that day.

         ¶ 6 Gill asked defendant to sign a voluntary consent form. The form was already filled out with defendant's name and address when Gill handed it to defendant. Defendant said he signed the form "to keep from going to jail." The form specifically states:

"I understand that I have the right to refuse to consent to the search described above and to refuse to sign this form.
I further state that no promises, threats, force, or physical or mental coercion of any kind whatsoever have been used to cause me to consent to the search described above or to sign this form."

         Gill could not remember if he read the form to defendant or let defendant read it himself. Defendant testified he did not read the ...


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