People v. Sanders

CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois
Citation2021 IL App (5th) 180339,184 N.E.3d 281,451 Ill.Dec. 694
Docket Number5-18-0339
Parties The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Aryion SANDERS, Defendant-Appellant.
Decision Date19 April 2021

2021 IL App (5th) 180339
184 N.E.3d 281
451 Ill.Dec.

The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff-Appellee,
Aryion SANDERS, Defendant-Appellant.

NO. 5-18-0339

Appellate Court of Illinois, Fifth District.

April 19, 2021

Celestine Dotson, of St. Louis, Missouri, for appellant.

Thomas D. Gibbons, State's Attorney, of Edwardsville (Patrick Delfino and Patrick D. Daly, of State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Office, of counsel), for the People.

PRESIDING JUSTICE BOIE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

451 Ill.Dec. 699

¶ 1 A jury convicted defendant, Aryion Sanders, of first degree murder for the shooting death of James Hubbard. The trial court sentenced defendant to 43 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. On direct appeal from his conviction and sentence, defendant argues, inter alia , that the trial court erred in allowing the State to introduce at trial, as substantive evidence, the transcript of defendant's testimony from a prior trial during which defendant was impeached with statements that were excluded as substantive evidence pursuant to Miranda v. Arizona , 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966). For the following reasons, we reverse defendant's conviction and remand for a new trial.


¶ 3 During the early morning hours of August 8, 2015, while walking along Oakwood Street in Alton, Illinois, Hubbard was shot four times. Bullet fragments were recovered from Hubbard's body and shell casings were recovered from the area where his body was lying on the street. All of the shell casings and bullet fragments originated from the same .38-caliber semiautomatic weapon. Hubbard died from gunshot wounds to the head. Stippling on Hubbard's skin at the bullets’ entry points indicated that the weapon was fired at close range. A surveillance video of the 700 block of Oakwood Street showed Hubbard walking and talking on his cell phone when the shooter appeared on the screen, made his way across the building at 743 Oakwood Street, and entered a cul-de-sac area, ultimately shooting Hubbard. An investigation

451 Ill.Dec. 700
184 N.E.3d 287

led the police to suspect that defendant was the shooter. At the time of the shooting, defendant was 17 years old and lived with his family in a housing unit a few hundred yards from the site of Hubbard's murder. Defendant participated in interviews with the Alton Police Department on August 10, 12, 13, and 14, 2015, in connection with the murder of Hubbard. On September 25, 2015, the State charged defendant with two counts of first degree murder stemming from the shooting. Each count charged defendant with the death of Hubbard based on a different legal theory for murder. Defendant was tried on the murder charges twice. During both of the trials, the primary factual dispute centered on the identity of the shooter. The first trial resulted in a hung jury, and the second trial resulted in the conviction and sentence from which defendant appeals.

¶ 4 Prior to the first trial, on May 16, 2016, defendant filed a motion to suppress his statements to the Alton Police Department in which he confessed to shooting Hubbard. Defendant argued that his statements were obtained in violation of his due process rights under the fourteenth amendment of the United States Constitution ( U.S. Const., amend. XIV ) and article I, section 2, of the Illinois Constitution ( Ill. Const. 1970, art. I, § 2 ) and, therefore, should be suppressed. Defendant's original motion did not include any argument regarding suppression pursuant to Miranda , 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602. It did allege that defendant's statements were involuntary and included a discussion of the test for voluntariness set out in Hutto v. Ross , 429 U.S. 28, 97 S.Ct. 202, 50 L.Ed.2d 194 (1976) (per curiam ).

¶ 5 Defendant pointed out the factors used to determine whether a confession was voluntary, including whether the confession was extracted by any sort of threats or violence or obtained by any direct or implied promises, however slight, or by the exertion of any improper influence. Id. at 30, 97 S.Ct. 202. Defendant argued that the interrogation was lengthy, having occurred over four days, and deprived defendant of the ability to see his family, a friend, or an attorney. Defendant argued that law enforcement extracted his confession through coercion, by threatening defendant that his younger brother would be arrested, or even shot and killed.

¶ 6 A hearing on the motion was held on July 27 and 28, 2016. On August 11, 2016, the State filed a memorandum and supplemental argument regarding defendant's motion to suppress. In its memorandum, the State conceded that defendant invoked his right to remain silent in the third interview and that it was not honored. Therefore, the State conceded that it would be appropriate for the trial court to suppress any questions or answers that came after defendant's assertion of his rights, which would be the last 20 minutes of the interview. The State argued that the confession given by defendant in the fourth interview should not be suppressed and was not fruit of the poisonous tree.

¶ 7 On August 22, 2016, defendant filed a memorandum in support of his motion to suppress, arguing that defendant's confession given at the end of his third interview was involuntary and a result of coercive tactics by the police. Defendant then argued that the confession obtained during the fourth interview should be suppressed pursuant to the exclusionary rule announced in Miranda . Miranda , 384 U.S. at 473-74, 86 S.Ct. 1602. The motion to suppress statements was partially granted by written order of the trial court on March 14, 2017.

¶ 8 Defendant's motion was denied as to the first interview, during which defendant had made no inculpatory statements. The trial court held that, during defendant's

184 N.E.3d 288
451 Ill.Dec. 701

second interview, defendant clearly and unequivocally asserted his right to remain silent and that, despite this assertion, the interview continued. Defendant had not made any inculpatory statements during the second interview. In defendant's third interview, the trial court found that defendant again told officers that he did not want to talk anymore and that request was ignored. In addition, defendant requested to speak with the juvenile officer and that request was ignored. After a lengthy exchange with the officers, defendant eventually confessed that he had shot Hubbard. Later during the interview, when asked how many times he had fired, defendant stated that he was lying about shooting Hubbard and that he only said that because he did not want his little brother to get into trouble.

¶ 9 The trial court found that the third interview was inadmissible based on defendant's invocation of his right to remain silent during his second interview. The trial court ruled that defendant's right to remain silent was not scrupulously honored in the second interview, which continued after he invoked his right to remain silent. The third interview was an interrogation for the same crime, further weighing in favor of suppression. The trial court noted that defendant again invoked his right to remain silent in the third interview and was again ignored. In addition to finding a Miranda violation, the trial court also found the following relevant to the voluntariness of defendant's confession:

"the detectives created a coercive environment which ultimately overcame the will of the defendant. This is demonstrated in the lengthy portion of the transcript set forth above. The detectives did this by threatening the arrest of the defendant's younger brother unless the defendant told them what happened. On cross-examination, Detective O'Neill admitted that the arrest of the defendant's brother was a ‘threat intended to elicit an emotional response.’ A distinct scenario was explained to the defendant. This was done both verbally and by the detective's actions in directing other officers to immediately leave the police station and arrest the brother. The detectives explained to the defendant that his fifteen year old brother would be arrested at gunpoint. During that arrest, a shootout might occur. His brother would then be having a ‘long, long, long night’ and be placed in a cell with someone the detective ‘hoped wasn't a really bad guy.’ "

The trial court suppressed all statements made during the third interview.

¶ 10 The trial court then turned to the fourth interview, which was conducted at defendant's request. During this interview, defendant again told officers that he was lying during the prior interview to keep the officers from arresting his younger brother as they had threatened. After another 35 minutes of the detectives speaking primarily between themselves, explaining why defendant should cooperate and explaining his involvement in the murder, defendant again made inculpatory statements. The trial court suppressed the fourth interview because defendant's invocation of his right to remain silent in his third interview was not scrupulously honored.

¶ 11 The State filed a notice of intent to introduce defendant's suppressed statements at trial for purposes of impeachment...

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1 cases
  • Sanders v. Splittorff
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. Southern District of Illinois
    • 24 Julio 2023
    ...history of this case as reflected in the April 2021 opinion of the Illinois Appellate Court for the Fifth District, People v. Sanders, 184 N.E.3d 281 (Ill.App.Ct. 2021), as well as the public docket of the criminal proceedings, Madison County Circuit Clerk, Court Records Search, http://www.......

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