21 F.3d 747 (7th Cir. 1994), 93-1094, United States v. Sablotny

Docket Nº:93-1094.
Citation:21 F.3d 747
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Patricia R. SABLOTNY, Defendant-Appellant.
Case Date:April 11, 1994
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

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21 F.3d 747 (7th Cir. 1994)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,


Patricia R. SABLOTNY, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 93-1094.

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

April 11, 1994

Argued Dec. 15, 1993.

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James E. Beckman, Office of U.S. Atty., Springfield, IL (argued), for U.S.

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Michael B. Metnick, Peter Wise (argued), Metnick, Barewin, Wise & Cherry, Springfield, IL, for Patricia Sablotny.

Before CUDAHY, FLAUM, and ROVNER, Circuit Judges.

CUDAHY, Circuit Judge.

Patricia Sablotny was 62-years old when a jury found her guilty of arson and conspiring to burn the Argonne Tavern in Springfield, Illinois. 18 U.S.C. Secs. 371 and 844(i). The court sentenced Ms. Sablotny to concurrent terms of 46 months' imprisonment on each count. 1 Ms. Sablotny appeals from the judgment of conviction asserting that the trial court wrongfully admitted her confession into evidence and sentenced her incorrectly. We affirm.

The district court conducted a suppression hearing and concluded that Ms. Sablotny's confession was voluntarily made and admissible as evidence of her guilt. Ms. Sablotny raises a somewhat novel argument before this court: she argues that her advanced age rendered her unusually susceptible to coercive treatment. Although only 62, she describes herself as an elderly woman, who was upset and scared at the time of questioning and, therefore, could not effectively resist the pressure of the police to confess. Based on the argument that hers was a single aberrant act, Ms. Sablotny also challenges the trial court's refusal to depart downward from the prescribed sentencing guidelines. See 18 U.S.C. Sec. 3553(b); U.S.S.G. Sec. 5K2.0 et seq. Cf. U.S.S.G. Ch. 1, Pt. A, Intro. p (d) (single act of aberrant behavior may justify probation). But we do not have jurisdiction to review the district court's discretionary refusal to grant a downward departure from the Sentencing Guidelines. 2 United States v. Gulley, 992 F.2d 108 (7th Cir.1993).

Ms. Sablotny owned and operated the Argonne Tavern in Springfield, Illinois from 1975 to February 1992. On February 16, 1992 the Argonne Tavern was destroyed by fire. A friend notified Ms. Sablotny of the fire and Ms. Sablotny's son drove her to the tavern. During the course of the day, Detective Amos Mitchell of the Springfield Police Department arson investigation squad questioned Ms. Sablotny several times. First, Mitchell questioned Ms. Sablotny in her car in the presence of her two sons. She was cooperative in answering his questions about ownership of the building, about her lease of the bar premises and about the operation of the bar. Ms. Sablotny then left. A few hours later, Mitchell questioned Ms. Sablotny again, this time in the front seat of his police car. She supplied insurance information not available to her during the first meeting and admitted that she and Michael Yucas, who later confessed to committing the arson at Ms. Sablotny's request, had been at the tavern earlier that day. Ms. Sablotny gave Yucas' telephone number to Mitchell. Ms. Sablotny then departed. Yucas was called to the scene and questioned by Mitchell.

Yucas and Mitchell then proceeded to the police station where Yucas made a full confession. Yucas, who worked as a part-time bartender at the Argonne, is the son of Ms. Sablotny's longtime boyfriend. At 4:55 p.m., Yucas signed a waiver of his Miranda rights in the presence of Mitchell and his partner, Investigator Nevitt of the Springfield Fire Department. At 6:08 p.m., Yucas noted the time and signed his written statement. Mitchell and Nevitt then completed the required paperwork and waited for a squad car to take Yucas to the Sangamon County Jail. Nevitt testified that he and Mitchell then

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returned to the Argonne tavern between 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. At the tavern, Mitchell helped Ms. Sablotny remove the money from six game machines, divide it with the machine owners and leave by crossing the cluttered, burned tavern interior.

At the tavern, Mitchell did not tell Ms. Sablotny that he had spoken with Yucas. He asked her if she would come down to the police station so that he could take her statement. Ms. Sablotny acquiesced and asked if she could ride in her son's car. Mitchell agreed. Ms. Sablotny and her son Jerry met Mitchell and Nevitt at the police station. Because it was a Sunday, the outer doors to the police station were locked. Mitchell unlocked the doors, the foursome entered and Mitchell relocked the doors behind him. The four proceeded to Mitchell's office. All interior doors were open and unlocked. Mitchell testified that he then asked Jerry Sablotny if he would mind waiting in the lobby; Jerry agreed to this. Ms. Sablotny did not object. (Jerry testified that they arrived at the station between 7:15 and 7:30 p.m., and that he never entered the office but was instructed to wait in the lobby.) After Jerry left, Mitchell read Ms. Sablotny her constitutional rights. Ms. Sablotny signed a form waiving her Miranda rights at 7:35 p.m.

Mitchell testified that Ms. Sablotny was read her Miranda rights...

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