People v. Mandoline, 2-15-0511

CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois
Citation2017 IL App (2d) 150511,73 N.E.3d 73
Docket NumberNo. 2-15-0511,2-15-0511
Parties The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Todd J. MANDOLINE, Defendant-Appellant.
Decision Date21 February 2017

2017 IL App (2d) 150511
73 N.E.3d 73

The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff-Appellee,
Todd J. MANDOLINE, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 2-15-0511

Appellate Court of Illinois, Second District.

Opinion filed February 21, 2017

Douglas H. Johnson and Kathleen T. Zellner, of Kathleen T. Zellner & Associates, P.C., of Downers Grove, for appellant.

Robert B. Berlin, State's Attorney, of Wheaton (Lisa A. Hoffman and Edward R. Psenicka, Assistant State's Attorneys, of counsel), for the People.


JUSTICE BIRKETT delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

¶ 1 Following a jury trial in the circuit court of Du Page County, defendant, Todd J. Mandoline, was convicted of first-degree murder (720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(3) (West 2012)) and aggravated arson (720 ILCS 5/20-1.1(a)(2) (West 2012)), and he was sentenced to consecutive terms of imprisonment of 27 years for murder and 12 years for aggravated arson. Defendant appeals, arguing that: (1) probable cause did not exist for his arrest; (2) defendant did not voluntarily reinitiate questioning with the police after the initial interrogation had ceased due to his invocation of his right to counsel; (3) his statements to the police were not voluntary, knowing, and intelligent; (4) his statements were obtained in violation of section 103-2.1 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 (Code) (725 ILCS 5/103-2.1 (West 2012) ), which requires the electronic recording of custodial interrogations in murder investigations; and (5) the trial court erroneously refused a jury instruction bearing on the proximate-cause theory of felony murder. We affirm.


¶ 3 We summarize the pertinent facts adduced during the hearings and the trial in this matter. Early in the morning on July 22, 2012, Paula Morgan died in a fire at her home in Lombard, Illinois; Jason Cassiday was burned over 40% of his body and experienced life-threatening pulmonary injuries due to inhaling smoke and combustion products, but he survived the fire. The fire began in Morgan's car: a piece of paper had been inserted into the gasoline fill tube of the car and ignited. The car was parked in the driveway of the home, almost inside of the garage. The garage door was open and the door to the mudroom, off of the garage, was also open. A whole-house fan, which was apparently operating at the time of the fire, pulled smoke and flames into the garage and the house. The car and the garage were largely consumed by the fire; the upstairs rooms of the house were heavily damaged.

¶ 4 On Saturday, July 21, 2012, Morgan's parents left on an out-of-town trip. That night, Morgan had a birthday party. Defendant, who had been in an intimate but up-and-down relationship with Morgan, attended. As the party progressed, defendant became agitated because he apparently believed that he and Morgan

73 N.E.3d 78

would spend the night alone together, and he was upset when she had a large birthday party. At some point during the party, defendant and Morgan began to argue. Defendant demanded the return of a necklace he had given Morgan; there was some shoving, and partygoers separated defendant and Morgan. Defendant spoke with Ricardo Sanchez for an hour or more. Eventually, Morgan surrendered the necklace to defendant, and Matt Schopa drove defendant away from the party. At some point, either during defendant's initial confrontation with Morgan or as he was leaving the party, he stated, "I hope you all die."

¶ 5 At about 2 a.m. on July 22, 2012, Salman Jaffer, who lived across the street from the Morgan home, left his home to work out. Jaffer explained that he was observing the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, which required fasting during the daytime, so he had flipped his schedule and ate and was active at night. He noticed a car that he did not recognize from his neighborhood parked across from his house. He returned from his workout at about 3 a.m. and noticed that the car was no longer there. However, when interviewed by the police, he stated that the car was still present when he returned from his workout. Sometime between 3:30 and 4 a.m., Jaffer heard the sound of breaking glass. Fearing that he was being harassed, he doused the lights and then noticed an orange glow. He observed that Morgan's car was on fire and called 911. Jaffer attempted to help, but he was advised by the emergency operator to back away when the tires on Morgan's car began to explode.

¶ 6 At about 3 a.m., Asgar Mohammed, another neighbor observing the holiday of Ramadan, left his house to go to the grocery store. He encountered a brown-haired white male with a scruffy beard and exchanged a greeting with him. The man was wearing a light-colored shirt and baggy light-khaki short pants. Defendant was observed at the party wearing clothes matching that description. Mohammed also noticed a suspicious car and noted that the person in the car was not the same person with whom he had exchanged a greeting.

¶ 7 Police and fire personnel responded to the fire. Police began the process of investigating the circumstances of the fire.

¶ 8 At about 5:30 a.m. on July 22, 2012, Detective Sergeant John Malatia of the Lombard police department reported to the Morgans' house. At that early time, no one had determined the cause of the fire. Malatia noted the damage to the house and to Morgan's car and returned to his office. The police began bringing the partygoers into the police department for interviews.

¶ 9 Detectives Gouty and Grage of the Lombard police department interviewed Sanchez. Sanchez had observed the altercation between defendant and Morgan and explained that he had interposed himself and restrained defendant. Sanchez confirmed that defendant had stated, "I wish you all die" or "I hope you all die." Sanchez also related that, later, he had seen someone in the shadows. Although Sanchez was not able to provide a description of the individual in the shadows, he believed that it was defendant returning to the party.

¶ 10 Another partygoer, Matt Allen, was interviewed by Lieutenant Abenante of the Lombard police department. Allen related that there was no physical altercation between defendant and Morgan. Allen also had seen someone in the shadows before the discovery of the fire; Allen did not say that he had seen defendant.

¶ 11 At around 6:20 or 6:30 a.m., Malatia spoke to Jaffer. Malatia learned that Jaffer

73 N.E.3d 79

had not seen anyone who seemed responsible for the fire when Jaffer discovered it. Jaffer informed Malatia that he had seen a Hyundai Tiburon parked near Morgan's house before the fire but that the car had departed by the time he discovered the fire.

¶ 12 At 6:32 a.m., Malatia and Detective Terrence Evoy of the Lombard police department interviewed Schopa. Schopa told the detectives that he had attended Morgan's birthday party the previous evening. Schopa related that defendant and Morgan argued about a necklace defendant had given to Morgan. Schopa also noted that defendant stated that he hoped Morgan died or that he wanted everyone to die, but Morgan might not have been present for the statement. Schopa told the detectives that he interceded with Morgan about the necklace, and she gave him the necklace to return to defendant. Schopa also informed the detectives that, at around 1:30 a.m., he had driven defendant away from the party, dropping defendant off on his street. Schopa drove the detectives along the route he used to drive defendant away. The detectives determined that Schopa had dropped defendant off about three houses short of defendant's residence.

¶ 13 The police investigating the fire held a brief meeting to exchange what they had learned. After this meeting, Malatia sent Detectives Michael Harris and Balsitis of the Lombard police department to defendant's home. Malatia, accompanied by Evoy, followed the other two detectives to defendant's home, arriving as Harris and Balsitis were speaking to defendant on his front porch.

¶ 14 At around 7:15 a.m., Harris and Balsitis arrived at defendant's home and knocked on the front door. They were greeted by defendant's mother and informed her that they wished to speak with defendant. Defendant's mother woke defendant, and he joined Harris and Balsitis on the porch. At this point, the detectives did not inform defendant that Morgan had died, but they stated that they were investigating a fire that had occurred at Morgan's house earlier that morning. Defendant admitted that he had attended Morgan's party the night before, but he asserted that he had left the party early because he did not get along with some of the other partygoers.

¶ 15 As Harris and Balsitis were talking with defendant, Malatia and Evoy arrived. The record is unclear as to who made the request, but one of the detectives asked defendant to come to the police department, and defendant agreed. Defendant asked that he be allowed to go to the bathroom and to get dressed.

¶ 16 Defendant went back into his house, and Harris and Balsitis accompanied him. Harris watched defendant retrieve his footwear and Balsitis stayed near defendant's bathroom as he relieved himself. Defendant put on the same clothes he had worn to the party. The detectives noted that these clothes were very wet and that defendant appeared to have sweated heavily in the clothes, perhaps from running. Harris was asked whether he watched defendant use the bathroom, and Harris denied that he had done that. Harris was asked whether Balsitis asked defendant to keep the bathroom door open, and Harris was unsure whether that occurred or even whether the bathroom door was open. Harris surmised that, if the bathroom door were left open, Balsitis might have asked defendant to leave it open, but Harris was unsure. After defendant grabbed his footwear, wallet, and keys, defendant exited his home and got into the unmarked police car in which Malatia and Evoy arrived. The record does not indicate that defendant was patted down before entering the car.

73 N.E.3d 80

¶ 17 At about 7:23 a.m., they...

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2 cases
  • People v. Watson
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • September 29, 2021
    ..."a third party outside of the criminal actors caused the death." People v. Mandoline , 2017 IL App (2d) 150511, ¶ 157, 411 Ill.Dec. 359, 73 N.E.3d 73 ; see also People v. Hudson , 222 Ill. 2d 392, 406-08, 305 Ill.Dec. 927, 856 N.E.2d 1078 (2006) (co-felon killed by off-duty police officer; ......
  • Valladares v. Melvin, 17 C 1000
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • August 27, 2018
    ...... People v . Valladares , 2016 WL 6140005 (Ill. App. Oct. 18, 2016); People v . Valladares , 994 N.E.2d ... See People v . Page 23 Mandoline , 73 N.E.3d 73, 105 (Ill. App. 2017) (holding that the "State overcame the presumption of ......

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