People v. Richardson

Citation334 Ill.Dec. 675,917 N.E.2d 501,234 Ill.2d 233
Decision Date24 September 2009
Docket NumberNo. 105530.,105530.
PartiesThe PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellant, v. Andre RICHARDSON, Appellee.
CourtSupreme Court of Illinois

Lisa Madigan, Attorney General, Springfield, Richard A. Devine, Anita Alvarez, State's Attorneys, Chicago (James E. Fitzgerald, Ashley A. Romito, Annette Collins and Veronica Calderon Malavia, Assistant State's Attorneys, of counsel), for the People.

Michael J. Pelletier, State Appellate Defender, Patricia Unsinn, Deputy Defender and Melissa C. Chiang, Assistant Appellate Defender, Office of the State Appellate Defender, Chicago, for appellee.


Justice FREEMAN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

Defendant, Andre Richardson, was charged in the circuit court of Cook County with first degree murder (720 ILCS 5/9-1 (a)(1), (a)(2) (West 2000)). Following a jury trial, defendant was convicted as charged and sentenced to a prison term of 40 years. The appellate court reversed defendant's conviction and remanded for a new trial. 376 Ill.App.3d 537, 314 Ill.Dec. 915, 875 N.E.2d 1202. We allowed the State's petition for leave to appeal. 177 Ill.2d R. 315(a). We now reverse the judgment of the appellate court and remand the cause to that court for further proceedings.


Defendant's conviction arose from events occurring on February 9, 2001. At 2:20 p.m., Chicago Police Officer Michael Hayes and paramedics responded to a call of an injured child at defendant's home. Defendant told Officer Hayes that the victim, his 11-month-old daughter, Diamond Clark, had fallen in the bathtub. However, the victim exhibited wounds, including human bite marks, that were inconsistent with a fall in a bathtub.1 Officer Hayes, accompanied by defendant, went to the hospital where the victim was receiving treatment. Upon ascertaining the victim's condition, Officer Hayes arrested defendant for child abuse or aggravated battery of a child. Officer Hayes brought defendant to the 2nd District police station at 3:35 p.m. At that time, defendant had no marks on his face. Officer Hayes processed the arrest report, and turned defendant and the paperwork over to the lockup keeper. At some point after being brought to the 2nd District police station, defendant received a black eye in the lockup. Sometime after 9:08 p.m., defendant gave an inculpatory statement to police, which he repeated in the presence of a Cook County assistant State's Attorney sometime after 12:30 a.m. on February 10.

Prior to trial, defendant sought to suppress the statement he gave to police. His amended motion alleged that defendant had been interrogated by Chicago Police Detectives O'Connell and Zalatoris, Youth Investigator Nolan, and Assistant State's Attorney John Heil. The motion further alleged that defendant had not been advised of his Miranda rights prior to the interrogation, but rather that he had been informed of his rights only after Assistant State's Attorney Heil had arrived. The amended motion further alleged that defendant's "physical, physiological, mental, educational and/or psychological state, capacity and condition" rendered him unable to appreciate and understand the full meaning of his Miranda rights. The amended motion also alleged:

"That the statements sought to be suppressed were obtained as a result of physical coercion illegally directed against the defendant and that such statements were, therefore, involuntary in violation of the 5th and 14th Amendments to the United States Constitution. [Defendant] was grabbed by one of the detectives and pushed onto a stool. The detectives handcuffed [defendant] to the wall. The detectives repeatedly called [defendant's] mother a bitch, told her to shut up and repeatedly yelled at her. There were two big detectives, one detective was O'Connell. [Defendant] was choked in the lockup where he passed out and hit his face and head and he told [defendant] he would be raped in prison."

The motion alleged additional mental coercion, in that defendant "was told by the detectives if he made a statement, he would go home" and, prior to questioning, "several members of the police department approached and told him that he would never go home." The circuit court held a hearing on the motion.

A. Suppression Hearing

The State presented the following pertinent testimony from several witnesses.2 Michael Nolan testified that, on February 9, 2001, he was a youth investigator assigned to Area 1 headquarters of the Chicago police department. His duties included investigating offenses against children and processing juvenile arrests. At approximately 5 p.m., Nolan was assigned to the investigation of defendant's alleged abuse of his baby daughter. Nolan was also advised that defendant was already in custody at the 2nd District police station, located at 5101 S. Wentworth Avenue. Area 1 of the Chicago police department includes the 2nd District, and Area 1 headquarters is located in the same building as the 2nd District police station. The first floor of the building is known as "the 2nd District," while the second floor is known as "Area 1." Nolan went downstairs to the 2nd District, where he found defendant and the arresting officer, Michael Hayes, in an interview room near the station lockup. Defendant, then 16 years old, was held separated from adult detainees. Nolan spoke with Officer Hayes for a few minutes. Nolan did not notice any facial injuries to defendant.

Nolan then traveled to Wyler Children's Hospital to ascertain the victim's condition. He next went to the crime scene at 4837 S. St. Lawrence Avenue, where he met Chicago Police Detectives John Zalatoris and Edward O'Connell. They returned to Area 1 headquarters between 7:30 and 8 p.m. Nolan again found Officer Hayes with defendant in the same interview room in the 2nd District. This time, however, Nolan observed that defendant's left eye was swollen. Nolan, "very surprised," asked Hayes what had happened, but defendant personally answered the question. Defendant told Nolan that "while he was being processed in the lockup that one of the lockup personnel struck him in the face," or "somebody in the lockup punched him in the eye." Defendant did not ask to go to the hospital and did not complain of any pain. Nolan asked Officer Hayes whether he had contacted his superiors. Hayes informed Nolan that the desk sergeant and the watch commander had been notified, that the incident had been reported to the police department Office of Professional Standards, and that Professional Standards "was already involved."3

Defendant's mother, Ellen Gaston Bronaugh, had arrived at the 2nd District. Nolan then had defendant and defendant's mother brought upstairs to an interview room at Area 1 for questioning. At 9:08 p.m., Nolan and Detectives Zalatoris and O'Connell had a conversation with defendant, who was not handcuffed, in the presence of his mother. Nolan first gave defendant Miranda warnings, and also warned defendant that he could be tried as an adult. Defendant responded that he understood his rights and agreed to give a statement. After defendant gave an innocent explanation, Nolan and the detectives confronted defendant with the several bruises and bite marks on the victim's body. Defendant then gave an inculpatory statement. This interview lasted between 45 minutes and one hour. A Cook County assistant State's Attorney was called.

Nolan testified that neither he nor anyone in his presence pushed defendant onto a stool or punched defendant. At no time did defendant fall or hit his head while attempting to avoid the punches of Nolan or anyone in Nolan's presence. Neither Nolan nor anyone in Nolan's presence cursed or shouted at defendant's mother, told defendant that he would never go home or that he would be raped in prison, or told defendant that if he made a statement he could go home.

Detective Zalatoris testified that on February 9, 2001, at approximately 6 p.m., he and his partner, Detective O'Connell, were assigned to investigate the aggravated battery of a child. They traveled to the crime scene and met Youth Investigator Nolan. Zalatoris learned that defendant was in custody. He, O'Connell, and Nolan returned to Area 1 "maybe a little bit after" 7 p.m.

Zalatoris first saw defendant as he was being led to an Area 1 interview room. Defendant's eye was injured. Prior to meeting defendant, Zalatoris already was informed that defendant received a black eye in the lockup. Zalatoris also learned that the 2nd District had already notified the Office of Professional Standards of defendant's injury. Zalatoris explained that he did not personally document defendant's injury because Professional Standards was going to investigate and would require 2nd District personnel to explain the injury as opposed to any Area 1 personnel. Office of Professional Standards personnel did arrive at Area 1, but Zalatoris did not recall at what time they tried to speak with defendant. In any event, Zalatoris explained that the criminal investigation superseded the Professional Standards administrative investigation and Professional Standards investigators would have to wait to interview defendant until after the criminal investigation was complete.

According to Zalatoris, defendant and his mother had an opportunity to be alone together prior to the 9:08 p.m. interview. In addition to Zalatoris, defendant and his mother, O'Connell, and Nolan were present. Zalatoris asked defendant how he received his injury, and defendant replied that "one of the guys downstairs hit him in the lockup." Defendant, or his mother, never complained of any pain regarding his eye and did not want to go to a hospital. Neither Zalatoris nor O'Connell nor Nolan physically assaulted defendant in any way, including punching him, or causing him to fall and hit his head, or pushing him onto a stool. Zalatoris stated that no one threatened defendant in any way, including telling him that he would...

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    ...of the evidence; but we will review de novo the court's ultimate decision to grant or deny the motion. People v. Richardson, 234 Ill.2d 233, 251, 334 Ill.Dec. 675, 917 N.E.2d 501 (2009); People v. Sutherland, 223 Ill.2d 187, 196–97, 307 Ill.Dec. 524, 860 N.E.2d 178 (2006). Defendant here do......
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