Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Fourth Division
from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 11 CR 16380
Honorable Clayton J. Crane, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE McBRIDE delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Presiding Justice Burke and Justice Gordon concurred
in the judgment and opinion.
1 Following a bench trial, defendant Gregory Sandifer was
convicted of first degree murder of his three-year-old son,
Jaivon, and attempted first degree murder, aggravated
criminal sexual assault, and aggravated domestic battery of
M.J., Jaivon's mother. The trial court sentenced
defendant to natural life in prison for the murder, a
consecutive term of 25 years' imprisonment for attempted
murder, and concurrent prison terms of 18 years for sexual
assault and 7 years for domestic battery.
2 On appeal, defendant contends that the trial court erred
when it denied his motion to suppress his statements because
his severe pain and pain medication administered to him at
the time of his statements rendered him unable to knowingly
and intelligently waive his Miranda rights and make
a voluntary statement. Defendant also contends, and the State
agrees, that his conviction for aggravated domestic battery
must be vacated under the one-act, one-crime rule because it
is based on the same physical act as the attempted murder
conviction. Finally, defendant argues that his life sentence
is excessive because it fails to take into account his
nonviolent criminal history. We vacate the aggravated
domestic battery conviction and affirm defendant's three
remaining convictions and sentences in all other respects.
3 Defendant was charged with first degree murder, attempted
first degree murder, aggravated criminal sexual assault,
aggravated kidnapping, aggravated domestic battery,
aggravated battery, and aggravated unlawful restraint. Prior
to trial, defendant filed a motion to suppress statements he
made to police and Assistant State's Attorney (ASA) Karin
Sullivan while in custody and undergoing treatment at West
Suburban Medical Center. Defendant alleged that due to his
medical, mental, and psychological state, he was incapable of
understanding and appreciating his Miranda rights,
and therefore, his statements were not voluntary or knowingly
and intelligently made. He specifically noted that he had
been given the pain medications morphine and Dilaudid.
Defendant argued that his medical condition was so severe
that it should have been obvious to the police and the ASA
during their conversations. Defendant asserted that all of
the statements he made were elicited in violation of his
4 At the hearing on defendant's motion, the State called
Armita Mabeza Butardo, a registered nurse at West Suburban
Medical Center, who testified that on September 2, 2011,
defendant was transferred to her unit from the emergency room
for treatment of a comminuted fracture to his right ankle,
which was broken into pieces. About 4:30 p.m., Butardo
conducted an initial mental assessment to determine
defendant's levels of consciousness and pain. While in
the emergency room, defendant had been given two doses of
morphine, one at 12:16 p.m. and the second at 3:12 p.m.
Butardo's assessment lasted 30 to 45 minutes, and
defendant answered her questions correctly. Butardo
determined that defendant was oriented to time, place, and
person. He was alert, calm, showed no signs of confusion, and
his vital signs were stable.
5 Following the assessment, defendant indicated that his
level of pain on a scale of 1 to 10 was a 12. At 5:55 p.m.,
Butardo gave defendant a third dose of morphine. She
monitored defendant for any adverse reactions, and after 20
minutes, defendant reported that his pain level had only
decreased to a 10. Consequently, at 6:15 p.m., Butardo gave
defendant a dose of Dilaudid. She remained with defendant
until 7:30 p.m., and during that time, he ate his dinner, was
alert, oriented, and responsive, and showed no signs of
confusion. Defendant did not have any adverse reactions to
6 Butardo explained that both morphine and Dilaudid are
opiates and narcotics that relieve pain by altering the
brain's perception of pain and reaction to it. The drugs
may decrease a person's respiratory and pulse rates,
causing them to feel sleepy. Both medications become
effective about five minutes after being administered, and
their half-life is two hours, at which time they reduce their
level in the blood to half of the initial volume. Dilaudid is
the stronger of the two medications and reaches its peak in
20 to 30 minutes, allowing patients to feel better sooner as
compared to the morphine. After defendant received the
medications, he was not sleepy, his eyes were not closed, and
he was responsive to Butardo's questions.
7 That evening, some police officers asked Butardo if they
could question defendant. She advised them that she had given
him pain medication, and they then spoke with him.
Afterwards, at 10 and 10:45 p.m., Butardo observed that
defendant was alert and coherent. At 10:45 p.m., defendant
stated that he was still in pain, and Butardo gave him
another dose of morphine, after which he remained alert and
responsive. Butardo did not observe any change in
defendant's mental state after receiving any of the doses
of medication. Defendant only complained about pain with his
ankle and did not report any other pain.
8 The State then called Chicago police officer Timothy Adams,
who testified that he assumed guard duty over defendant while
he was being treated in the emergency room at West Suburban
Medical Center. Although defendant remained handcuffed, Adams
denied interfering with any medical treatment. He also denied
initiating any conversations with defendant about what had
happened or why he was in custody.
9 Between 1:15 and 2:05 p.m., while Adams and defendant were
alone in the emergency room, defendant asked the officer
several questions about what had happened that day. Adams
replied that he did not know what happened and he was only
there to keep watch over defendant. The officer did not ask
defendant any questions. Defendant remained silent for
awhile, then told Adams that he remembered getting into a
fight with his girlfriend and getting a knife from the
kitchen and stabbing her. Adams could not recall if defendant
said that his girlfriend jumped out of the window or was
pushed out. Defendant stated that after his girlfriend went
out the window, he decided that he was going to kill himself,
and he was going to take his son Jaivon with him. While lying
in the hospital bed, defendant closed his eyes and made a
stabbing motion as though he was reenacting the incident.
Adams demonstrated that motion by holding his left hand up at
waist level and moving his right hand back and forth with a
clenched fist. Adams explained that as defendant made this
motion, he smashed his handcuffs against the bedrail in a
very forceful motion. Defendant then calmed down and said
that he ran out of the apartment and the police took him into
custody. Defendant's statement to Adams lasted about 10
to 15 minutes.
10 When Detective Thomas Kolman arrived at the hospital,
Adams told him what defendant had said. Kolman then spoke
with defendant with Adams present. Adams denied that
defendant appeared confused or disoriented at any time during
their interaction. Adams also explained that he did not
memorialize defendant's statement in a written report
because he waited for Kolman to question defendant. If
defendant had changed his story in any way, Adams would have
written a report recounting the version defendant had told
him. Adams acknowledged that he never advised defendant of
his Miranda rights.
11 The State then called Detective Kolman, who testified that
when he arrived at the hospital, Officer Adams told him that
while he was guarding defendant, defendant stated that he had
stabbed Jaivon and M.J. Kolman spoke with the emergency room
nurse to see if he could question defendant about what had
occurred that day. Kolman explained that he wanted to know if
defendant was medically able to answer questions, if he was
medicated, or if he was going to be taken into surgery. About
2:50 p.m., Kolman spoke to defendant with Adams present.
12 Kolman advised defendant of his Miranda rights,
and defendant agreed to speak with him. Throughout their
conversation, which lasted half an hour, defendant's
demeanor and mental status was fine. Defendant's answers
were responsive to the questions asked. He did not appear
sleepy or confused, nor did he appear to have any trouble
understanding the detective.
13 Defendant told Kolman that he, M.J., and their son,
Jaivon, went to Northeastern Illinois University to register
M.J. for classes. When they returned to M.J.'s home,
defendant and M.J. argued about babysitting duties. The
argument escalated into a physical altercation, and defendant
shoved M.J. into a front bedroom and ordered Jaivon to go to
a rear bedroom. Defendant stated that he threw M.J. down onto
the bed, climbed on top of her, and removed her clothing.
Defendant then went to the kitchen, retrieved a knife, and
returned to the bedroom where he engaged in sexual
intercourse with M.J. Defendant stated that he stabbed M.J.
once, and they struggled for control of the knife. M.J.
gained control of the knife, then went to the living room and
threw it out the window. M.J. attempted to leave, but
defendant blocked her path and would not allow her to go.
M.J. then went to the same window where she had thrown out
the knife and tried to go out the window. Defendant either
threw a television at her or shoved a television into her.
M.J. then jumped out the window and landed on the concrete
14 Defendant told Kolman that at some point, Jaivon entered
the living room and witnessed a portion of the fight.
Defendant retrieved a second knife intending to commit
suicide, and decided that he would take Jaivon with him.
Defendant stabbed Jaivon with the knife in the foyer and
dropped that knife. Defendant retrieved a third knife and
exited the apartment through the back door onto a porch.
After observing dogs in the yard, defendant jumped into the
neighbor's yard and injured his ankle. Defendant then
walked into the alley, entered an open garage, and hid inside
that garage until he was confronted by the owner. At that
same moment, the overhead garage door opened, and the police
took him into custody. During this interview, defendant never
complained about any pain or his physical condition, nor did
he ever state that he wanted to terminate the conversation.
15 About 7:30 p.m., Kolman returned to the hospital with
Detective John Fuller, and after meeting with ASA Sullivan,
the three of them went to defendant's room. Before
entering, they spoke with nurse Butardo to see if defendant
was still able to understand and answer their questions.
About 7:56 p.m., they entered the room, and Sullivan advised
defendant of his Miranda rights. Defendant appeared
to be fine and agreed to speak with them. He was no longer
wearing handcuffs. Defendant answered the questions in a
conversational manner and did not appear to be sleepy or
confused. His answers were responsive to their questions, and
Kolman had no concerns about defendant's mental status
during this interview, which lasted 35 to 40 minutes.
16 Defendant retold his story of what had occurred, which was
substantially the same as the statement he earlier gave to
Kolman. Defendant added that he was angry about M.J. going
out with her friends, going to the gym, and leaving him to
watch Jaivon. Defendant said that M.J. made fun of him and
talked down to him, and he became "very, very angry with
her." M.J. also told defendant that he should take
Jaivon to his house. Defendant said that was when he became
angry and pushed M.J. into the bedroom. During this
interview, defendant recalled stabbing M.J. several times.
M.J. broke free from defendant and said that she would not
call the police, but he did not believe her. Defendant said
that he gave M.J. the knife hoping that she would stab him,
but instead, she threw it out the window.
17 Defendant also added that M.J.'s remark about taking
Jaivon with him stuck in his head, and he decided to take
Jaivon with him by killing him and committing suicide.
Defendant stated that he stabbed Jaivon numerous times. He
added that when the neighbor confronted him inside the
garage, defendant hid the knife and drank a soda that he
found inside a refrigerator. At some point, defendant stated
that M.J. hit him in the face or head with a hammer but then
said that he was not sure if the object was a hammer.
18 Following this interview, defendant agreed to give a
videotaped statement, which was recorded about 9:33 p.m.
Kolman testified that defendant was fine at this time, and
there was no change in his demeanor or mental status.
19 On cross-examination, Kolman stated that the interview was
a combination of defendant answering questions and providing
his own answers in a narrative. He acknowledged that both the
emergency room nurse and nurse Butardo told him that
defendant was taking pain medication. Kolman testified that
during the first two interviews, defendant spoke in a normal
tone and his eyes were open. He acknowledged, however, that
during the videotaped interview, there were a couple of
occasions where defendant's eyes appeared to close and
ASA Sullivan asked defendant to open his eyes. Kolman
explained that defendant seemed a bit more fatigued at the
time of the video statement, but he was still cognizant in
answering questions, even with his eyes closed.
20 The State presented defendant's videotaped statement,
which the trial court admitted into evidence. The court then
continued the case so that it could view the video before
ruling on defendant's motion. On the next court date, the
court stated that it had viewed the video "not for the
purposes of what actually was said in the video, but to
observe whether or not Defendant's actions were voluntary
on the night in question."
21 The court found that during the first interaction, when
defendant made statements to Officer Adams, defendant
"spontaneously" stated what he believed had
occurred and made those statements voluntarily. The court
"This case really comes down to the voluntariness of the
Defendant's statement in question. There's no
question as I watched the video where I could personally
observe the Defendant that he had discomfort, he was in pain
during portions of this. His eyes, at times, were closed. The
State's Attorney prompted him to open his eyes, did give
an explanation at one point that it helped him by keeping his
eyes closed to visualize what he was talking about.
Also indicate [sic] in the very beginning of the
video, with the State's Attorney, he was extremely quiet.
It was difficult to hear him. I had to adjust my volume
several times. But when he got to that portion of his
statement which reference to the actual act of being with his
son, he was-the volume was substantial, substantially
different than what the initial interview occurred.
The State's Attorney, Ms. Sullivan, was moving through
the interview, attempting to get yes and no answers, and
the Defendant wasn't letting her get away with yes or
no answers. He added great detail to many of the questions
that she asked him at that point.
And finally, when asked about what he thought about the
influence of the drugs that he was taking, he said he thought
the drugs were making him talk faster.
Although I recognize he was in discomfort, I recognize he was
taking drugs, I don't find that the statement was
anything other than voluntary, on the night in ...