People v. Minniti, 2-05-0028.

CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois
Citation867 N.E.2d 1237
Docket NumberNo. 2-05-0028.,2-05-0028.
PartiesThe PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Joshua R. MINNITI, Defendant-Appellant.
Decision Date30 April 2007

Thomas A. Lilien, Deputy Defender, and Vicki P. Kouros (Court-appointed), Office of the State Appellate Defender, Elgin, for Joshua R. Minniti.

John A. Barsanti, Kane County State's Attorney, St. Charles, Martin P. Moltz, Deputy Director, Barry W. Jacobs, State's Attorney Appellate Prosecutor, Elgin, for the People.

Justice GILLERAN JOHNSON delivered the opinion of the court:

After a bench trial before the circuit court of Kane County, the defendant, Joshua R. Minniti, was found guilty of first-degree murder (720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(1) (West 2000)), home invasion (720 ILCS 5/12-11(a)(2) (West 2000)), and two counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault (720 ILCS 5/12-14(a)(2) (West 2000)). The defendant was sentenced to 61 years' imprisonment for first-degree murder and 6 years' imprisonment for each of the remaining counts, all sentences to be served consecutively. The defendant appeals, contending that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress statements and that he is entitled to additional sentencing credit for time served prior to sentencing. We disagree with his first contention, agree with his second, and affirm the judgment as modified.


On October 21, 2001, 57-year-old Irma Braun was found bludgeoned to death in her home. Almost a year later, the defendant, who was 15 years old at the time the crime was committed, was arrested for Braun's death. On October 8, 2002, the defendant was charged by indictment with four counts of first-degree murder, one count of home invasion, and two counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault. On May 2, 2003, the State filed a notice of intent to seek an extended-term sentence based on the statutory factor of "exceptionally brutal or heinous behavior indicative of wanton cruelty."

On July 22, 2003, the defense filed an amended motion to suppress statements. The motion alleged that although the investigators notified the defendant's father that they were going to interview the defendant concerning the subject crime, they did not tell his father that they had physical evidence implicating the defendant and that the defendant was going to be arrested and charged. The motion also alleged that the juvenile officer present for the interview did nothing to protect the defendant's rights and that the investigating officers used deceit and trickery to induce the defendant's confession. On July 31, 2003, a hearing was held on the motion to suppress.

At the hearing, Officer Keith Gardner, a detective with the Kane County sheriff's office, testified that on October 21, 2001, during a canvass of the victim's neighborhood, he interviewed the defendant's father, Joseph Minniti (Minniti). The defendant and his family lived two houses west of the victim's house. Officer Gardner received permission from Minniti to speak with the defendant. On May 21, 2002, Officer Gardner again received permission to speak with the defendant and collected a DNA swab from him.

On September 3, 2002, Officer Gardner testified that he reinterviewed Minniti about the murder, at the sheriff's office. Officer Gardner again asked Minniti for permission to speak with the defendant. Minniti gave permission and requested that Officer Gardner call his cell phone to set up a time for the interview. No particular date was mentioned at that time.

On September 5, 2002, Officer Gardner called Minniti's cell phone, but there was no answer. Officer Gardner then called the defendant's house, but again there was no answer. Officer Gardner then left a message on Minniti's cell phone, informing him that he was en route to West Aurora High School to pick up the defendant for an interview. Officer Gardner told Minniti to call him when he received the message.

Officer Gardner further testified that he and Sergeant Stutz arrived at the high school at 2:30 p.m. Sergeant Stutz arranged with the school officials to have the defendant removed from class to speak with the officers. The defendant remembered Officer Gardner from earlier interviews but indicated that his father had not told him that the police wanted to speak with him again. The defendant agreed to go to the sheriff's office for another interview. The defendant informed the officers that he needed to be at work at 5 p.m.

At the sheriff's office, the defendant was placed in an interview room. Officer Gardner, Sergeant Stutz, and Sergeant David Wagner were present for the interview. The officers asked the defendant whether he wanted anything to eat or drink or had to use the washroom. The defendant declined. Officer Gardner testified that at some point, he again called Minniti's cell phone. Minniti answered, and Officer Gardner told him that the officers had picked the defendant up from school and brought him to the sheriff's office. Minniti again gave Officer Gardner permission to speak with the defendant.

Officer Gardner testified that the interview began at 3 p.m. Sergeant Stutz read the juvenile-subject data sheet, and the Miranda rights, to the defendant. Sergeant Stutz explained each right to the defendant, and the defendant signed a waiver of his rights. Sergeant Stutz informed the defendant that he was there as a juvenile officer to help the defendant and that the defendant should ask Sergeant Stutz if he had any questions during the interview.

Officer Gardner testified that he and Sergeant Wagner questioned the defendant. They told the defendant that they were reinterviewing neighbors because it had been almost a year since the crime. Sergeant Wagner asked the defendant if he was involved in the victim's death. The defendant denied any involvement. The defendant explained that on the morning of the crime he went to the Aurora Country Club, where he worked as a caddy. Around 12 p.m., he went to his neighbor's house across the street to play basketball. The defendant went back to his house about 8 p.m. He brought his dogs outside into the yard and sat on the sunporch. After that, he went to bed. The defendant indicated that he occasionally did odd jobs for the victim, and he explained some of those jobs. At about 4 p.m., the officers took a 20-minute break.

Officer Gardner testified that during the break he learned that Minniti was trying to reach him, so he called him. Minniti asked what was taking so long and said that the defendant had to be at work by 5 p.m. Officer Gardner told Minniti that the defendant was cooperating and that he did not know how much longer the interview would last. Minniti did not ask to speak with the defendant.

The interview resumed at 4:20 p.m. During this round of questioning, the officers asked the defendant about inconsistencies in his stories from his earlier interviews. The officers told the defendant that DNA evidence implicating him was found inside the victim and that there was satellite imagery showing a person leave the defendant's home, enter the victim's house, and then return to the defendant's home. According to Officer Gardner, the defendant then became defensive, started yelling and swearing, and asked to go home. Sergeant Stutz told the defendant that "it was probable" he was not going home that night. The defendant agreed to continue being questioned and eventually admitted that "it was an accident."

According to Officer Gardner's testimony, the defendant stated that he left his basement at 1 a.m. and walked to the victim's house. He first checked to see if her car was there, and it was not. He then went inside the home to steal a portable stereo that he had seen earlier in her bedroom. He used a crowbar to force his way in through the back door. He went upstairs to the bedroom. The bedroom was dark, and he did not see that the victim was in the room. The defendant walked toward the portable stereo, and the victim came up behind him and grabbed his neck. The defendant then reached back with the crowbar and struck the victim in the head. The victim fell to the floor and was bleeding. The defendant went to the kitchen and thought about calling an ambulance but did not. The defendant then went back to the bedroom to check on the victim. He knelt down next to her and she grabbed him, so he struck her on the head several times. This second round of questioning, which lasted about one hour, ended at about 5:20 p.m.

Officer Gardner testified that the interview resumed at 5:30 p.m. and lasted about 10 minutes. The defendant was no longer angry, but was very emotional and apologetic. When the defendant was confronted with evidence that a sexual assault had occurred, he admitted that it was possible that he had "stuck it in her twice." The officers took another break for five minutes. At 5:45 p.m., the defendant was asked whether he penetrated the victim anally. The defendant said he might have but thought he penetrated only the victim's vagina.

After another five-minute break, Assistant State's Attorney Bob Berlin questioned the defendant for over an hour. At 6:32 p.m., the defendant consented to being videotaped. In the videotaped statements, the defendant essentially repeated what he had told Officer Gardner in the 4:20 p.m. interview. The defendant also indicated that after he returned to the victim's bedroom and struck her again, he penetrated the victim in the vaginal area twice. After that he was in shock and stumbled around the house, used the hallway bathroom, and then left through the same back door. He threw away the clothes he was wearing and dumped the crowbar in someone's trash.

On cross-examination, Officer Gardner admitted that he lied to the defendant about some of the DNA evidence and the satellite photos. While the police did match the defendant to the DNA from a drop of urine found in the victim's bathroom, his DNA was not found inside the victim. Officer Gardner also...

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