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People v. Wilson

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Second Division

December 10, 2019

JACKIE WILSON, Defendant-Appellee.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 88 CR 7771 The Honorable William J. Hooks, Judge Presiding.

          Attorneys for Appellant: Michael J. O'Rourke, Myles P. O'Rourke, and Robert E. Williams, Special Assistant State's Attorneys, of Chicago, for the People

          Attorneys for Appellee: G. Flint Taylor, John L. Stainthorp, and Christian Snow, of People's Law Office, and Elliot Slosar, of The Exoneration Project, both of Chicago, for appellee

          JUSTICE LAVIN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Pucinski and Coghlan concurred in the judgment and opinion.



         ¶ 1 Officers William Fahey and Richard O'Brien were fatally shot while on duty on February 9, 1982. This led to the biggest manhunt in Chicago's history. While in custody, defendant Jackie Wilson (petitioner) gave a statement regarding those murders. He was ultimately convicted of armed robbery and the murder of Officer O'Brien but was acquitted of Officer Fahey's murder. More than 30 years after the shooting, the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission (Commission) found there was sufficient evidence that petitioner was tortured to warrant an evidentiary hearing under the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission Act (Torture Act) (775 ILCS 40/1 et seq. (West 2010)). Following an evidentiary hearing, the trial court suppressed petitioner's statement as the product of torture, vacated his convictions, and ordered a new trial.

         ¶ 2 On appeal, the State asserts that the trial court (1) misapplied the burden of proof, (2) erroneously prevented the State from questioning petitioner about the contents of his statement, (3) made manifestly erroneous factual findings, and (4) demonstrated bias and unwarranted hostility toward the State. We affirm the trial court's judgment and remand for a new trial.

         ¶ 3 I. Background

         ¶ 4 Initially, we note that the record on appeal contains a staggering amount of evidence. Consequently, we recite only those facts necessary to understand and resolve this appeal.

         ¶ 5 A. Motion to Suppress

         ¶ 6 Petitioner and Andrew Wilson (A. Wilson), petitioner's older brother, were arrested separately on February 14, 1982. A. Wilson arrived at Area 2 headquarters (9059 South Cottage Grove Avenue) between 5:30 a.m. and 6 a.m. At about 8 a.m., the police arrested petitioner at 5157 South Prairie Avenue and transported him to Area 1 headquarters. Four detectives subsequently transported him to Area 2. After being interrogated, petitioner gave a court-reported statement to Assistant State's Attorney (ASA) Lawrence Hyman in the presence of Detective Thomas McKenna and court reporter Michael Hartnett.[1]

         ¶ 7 According to the statement, petitioner, then 21 years old, and A. Wilson went to Donald White's home (8024 South Carpenter Street) on the afternoon of February 9, 1982. The brothers drove there in their sister's brown Chevrolet. Inside the home, individuals discussed helping Edgar Hope escape from the Cook County Hospital. Hope was in custody for the murder of police officer James Doyle.

         ¶ 8 After leaving White's home, petitioner and A. Wilson dropped off Derrick Martin and were subsequently pulled over by a police car. Petitioner exited the driver's seat as Officer O'Brien approached the car. When petitioner was unable to produce a license, Officer O'Brien proceeded to search the car. Meanwhile, A. Wilson exited the front passenger seat, and Officer Fahey approached his side of the car. Officer O'Brien then emerged with a .38-caliber firearm that A. Wilson had been carrying and ordered petitioner to freeze. He complied.

         ¶ 9 As A. Wilson and Officer Fahey disappeared from petitioner's vision, petitioner heard a gunshot. Although not specified in petitioner's statement, he had apparently heard the gunshot that killed Officer Fahey. Petitioner then saw A. Wilson holding a gun and heard another shot. A. Wilson had shot Officer O'Brien. As Officer O'Brien moved around on the ground, A. Wilson yelled at petitioner to get the officer's weapon. Initially, petitioner was scared and did not speak. He then said, however, that Officer O'Brien "was still there, you know. He was up an[d] about." In response, A. Wilson shot at Officer O'Brien four or five more times, picked up the firearms, and said, "Let's go." According to petitioner's statement, he "was still scared, standing there, you know, and [A. Wilson] was hollering move, move, move." Petitioner drove them home and parked their sister's car. The brothers then went their separate ways.

         ¶ 10 Petitioner and A. Wilson were charged with the murder and armed robbery of both officers. Petitioner, through attorneys Richard Kling and David Thomas, moved to suppress his statement. According to petitioner, the police questioned him without administering Miranda warnings or honoring his request for his attorney. See Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). Additionally, the police physically assaulted him and put a gun in his mouth. We note that the motion did not allege petitioner was subjected to electric shock.

         ¶ 11 At the suppression hearing, the officers who transported petitioner to Area 2 testified that they advised him of his Miranda rights. They denied that petitioner asked to speak to his attorney or that they engaged in threatening behavior. Additionally, when they arrived at Area 2 at about 10 a.m., they transferred custody of petitioner to Detective McKenna and Detective Patrick O'Hara. Those detectives testified that petitioner was then advised of his Miranda rights for a second time and brought to an office on the second floor. When they asked if he knew why he was there, petitioner referred to the two police officers that were killed. Petitioner voluntarily answered the officers' questions about the murder for 20 to 25 minutes. It is undisputed that Detective McKenna and Detective O'Hara worked under Lieutenant Jon Burge.

         ¶ 12 ASA Hyman testified that at about 11:45 a.m., petitioner gave his written statement. He did not complain of mistreatment and did not appear to have been beaten. Although ASA Hyman knew petitioner had an attorney before his arrest, he did not ask petitioner if he wanted to speak with him. At 5:30 p.m., ASA Hyman and Hartnett, the court reporter, took a statement from A. Wilson, who was in an office about 35 feet away from petitioner.

         ¶ 13 In contrast, petitioner testified that on the way to Area 2, the four officers in the car questioned him without administering Miranda warnings. When petitioner denied knowing anything about the shooting, the two officers on either side of him in the backseat elbowed him in the chest. The officer in the front passenger seat turned around to slap him in the face several times.

         ¶ 14 Upon arriving at Area 2 at about 9 a.m., petitioner was rushed upstairs to be interrogated. The police did not immediately administer Miranda warnings but did administer them at some point. In the presence of 12 to 16 officers, Detectives McKenna and O'Hara told petitioner that he appeared to be a victim of circumstances and should "come straight."[2] Petitioner asked to talk to Fredrick Solomon, his lawyer, and showed them his business card. They responded that he did not "need no fucking lawyer." When petitioner said he did not want to talk, five or six officers beat him. In an interrogation that lasted one to two hours, officers hit him with a telephone book and a dictionary, poked him, slapped him, shook him, twisted his head, twisted his fingers, and kicked him in the groin. One officer put a cocked revolver in petitioner's mouth and asked if it made him nervous, to which petitioner replied, "Damn right." When Detective O'Hara slapped petitioner, Detective McKenna told him not to damage petitioner's face.

         ¶ 15 The officers asked petitioner what he did after Officer Fahey was shot. Petitioner said he "was doing nothing," which led the officers to kick him in his side and stomach. Petitioner then told the police that he froze when Officer Fahey was shot. According to petitioner, he told the police that after the second shot he "was shocked and *** started backing out [of] the way." During the interrogation, petitioner denied knowing White and Martin. He later acknowledged, however, that he knew the two individuals by their respective aliases, Kojak and Dee. Petitioner eventually agreed to answer questions because he heard A. Wilson screaming and heard furniture being kicked.

         ¶ 16 Petitioner then gave ASA Hyman a written statement in the presence of Detective McKenna and Hartnett. The police had warned petitioner that if he did not tell ASA Hyman what the police wanted him to say, the police would "start all over again." Despite that warning, petitioner told ASA Hyman he would not sign the statement without talking to his lawyer. ASA Hyman and Hartnett then left the room, and Detective O'Hara threatened to break petitioner's fingers unless he signed. Furthermore, petitioner's initials were different on each page because his fingers were swollen, and he was nervous. Detective O'Hara subsequently ordered him to smile for a photograph.

         ¶ 17 When petitioner saw A. Wilson at the criminal court building the next day, A. Wilson had a patch over his eye and a patch on the back of his head, where he had been hit with a .45-caliber semiautomatic weapon. Additionally, A. Wilson had burns all over his body. It was obvious to petitioner that "the police had jumped on him."

         ¶ 18 Following argument, Judge John Crowley denied petitioner's motion.

         ¶ 19 B. Petitioner's First Trial and Direct Appeal

         ¶ 20 Following a joint trial, the jury found petitioner and A. Wilson guilty of two counts of armed robbery and two counts of first degree murder. The court sentenced petitioner to concurrent 30-year prison terms for armed robbery and natural life in prison for the murders. A. Wilson was sentenced to death.

         ¶ 21 On direct appeal, the reviewing court initially rejected petitioner's challenge to the denial of his motion to suppress but found that reversible error occurred during voir dire. People v. Wilson, 139 Ill.App.3d 726 (1985). The supreme court then reversed that determination and remanded the cause with directions to consider petitioner's remaining issues. People v. Wilson, 112 Ill.2d 567 (1986) (supervisory order). Shortly thereafter, however, the supreme court determined that A. Wilson's statement was involuntary and should have been suppressed based on evidence showing that he sustained 15 separate injuries to his head, torso, and leg while in police custody. People v. Wilson, 116 Ill.2d 29 (1987); see also People v. Wrice, 2012 IL 111860, ¶ 57 (stating that A. Wilson's case was the first Area 2 brutality case to reach the supreme court). According to A. Wilson, he was kicked, punched, smothered with a bag, subjected to electric shock, and burned against a radiator. Wilson, 116 Ill.2d at 35.

         ¶ 22 On remand to the appellate court in petitioner's case, he filed a supplemental brief urging the court to reconsider his challenge to the denial of his motion to suppress. The court upheld the denial of petitioner's motion but reversed and remanded for a new trial so that petitioner could be tried separately from A. Wilson. People v. Wilson, 161 Ill.App.3d 995 (1987).

         ¶ 23 C. Petitioner's Second Trial and Appeal

         ¶ 24 At petitioner's second trial, Tyrone Sims essentially testified that he witnessed this shooting through his living room window. When Officer Fahey approached the passenger side of the Chevrolet, A. Wilson exited the car, throwing his jacket inside. Officer Fahey seemed to order A. Wilson to retrieve the jacket, and A. Wilson complied. Upon searching the jacket's pockets, Officer Fahey "apparently found something that caused him to grab [A. Wilson]." A struggle ensued. Additionally, Officer O'Brien grabbed petitioner, who did not struggle or brandish a weapon.

         ¶ 25 A. Wilson then removed Officer Fahey's service revolver from its holster and shot him in the back of the head. Next, A. Wilson shot Officer O'Brien, who fell to the ground. Once Officer O'Brien was down, A. Wilson fired two more shots at him and shouted, "Let's get out of here." Sims acknowledged testifying at petitioner's first trial that when A. Wilson yelled for them to leave, petitioner did not get in the car. Instead, he stood there with a blank look on his face, as if he was in a state of shock.

         ¶ 26 Dwayne Hardin, a passerby, testified that he saw petitioner and A. Wilson getting in the Chevrolet and smiling as they drove away from the scene. Hardin apparently recanted that testimony in recent years.

         ¶ 27 The State presented evidence that the officers' service revolvers were recovered from the back of Willie's Beauty Shop, where A. Wilson had been staying. Additionally, the State introduced petitioner's court-reported statement as well as certain statements petitioner was alleged to have made in prison. The statements made in prison claimed responsibility for the murders of Officers Fahey and O'Brien. Inmate William Coleman, also known as William Clarkson, also testified that petitioner and A. Wilson planned a mass escape, in part so that petitioner could kill Sims, the occurrence witness to the murder. We note that a trial within a trial ensued as ...

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