from the Circuit Court of Williamson County. No. 12-CF-40
Honorable John Speroni, Judge, presiding.
Attorney for Appellant Mark A. Kochan, Kochan & Kochan,
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.
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.
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
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
could not remember if he read the form to defendant or let
defendant read it himself. Defendant testified he did not
read the ...