People v. McArthur, 2018 IL App (1st) 150626 (June). Episode 515 (Duration 8:15)
17 year old held for 73 hours before a probable cause hearing nonetheless gave a voluntary confession.
Seventeen-year-old defendant Jamari McArthur was arrested for allegedly engaging in sexual conduct with M.W., an 11-year-old boy.
A jury found defendant guilty of the aggravated criminal sexual abuse of M.W. and the trial court sentenced him to four-years’ imprisonment.
Defendant confessed to the police in writing after having spent 73 hours in custody without a probable cause determination. Well above the Gersteing limit.
Defendant filed a motion to suppress his confession, arguing that his time spent in custody without a judicial determination of probable cause was unreasonable and rendered his confession involuntary.
When defendant was arrested at 2:57 pm and taken to the Calumet City Police Department.
Later that day at 7:53 p.m., he was placed in an interview room, read Miranda rights and presented him with a preprinted waiver form. Defendant said he understood his Miranda rights, initialed and signed the waiver form, and confessed to placing his mouth around the penis of M.W., an 11-year-old boy.
Defendant was questioned again at 9:20 p.m. that night and defendant offered additional details about the incident.
The next day at 1:02 p.m., defendant consented to a mouth swab, placed a call to his grandmother and was not questioned for the rest of the day.
On The Third Day
The next day a Cook County assistant state’s attorney attended four victim sensitive interviews (VSIs) of M.W. and other potential child witnesses. The last VSI concluded at 2:14 p.m.. The ASA then met with defendant in an interview room at the police station at 3:45 p.m.
The ASA read defendant his Miranda rights and questioned him in the presence of the detective. Defendant indicated that he understood his Miranda rights and over the course of a half hour, provided a detailed confession and chronological account of the events leading up to, and following, the incident.
At around 5:02 p.m., defendant was asked to make a written confession and defendant agreed. The ASA proceeded to summarize defendant’s statements in writing on a preprinted form. When completed, defendant read the statement aloud without any difficulty.
Defendant asked the ASA to add three sentences to his statement and then signed the statement on each of its four pages. Defendant also signed a picture of himself showing him signing the statement.
On The Fourth Day
The next morning defendant was brought before a judge for a probable cause determination. More than 73 hours had passed since the time of his arrest. The judge found probable cause for defendant’s arrest and he was subsequently charged.
Defendant was brought before a judge the morning after the interviews were conducted.
Police could offer “no reason” as to why they did not release defendant before the VSIs were conducted and re-arrest defendant if the victim and child witnesses confirmed the content of defendant’s confession.
Defendant denied being verbally or physically threatened, or abused, by the police.
Police are required to provide a defendant with a “fair and reliable determination of probable cause” before or promptly after arrest. Gerstein v. Pugh, 420 U.S. 103, 125 (1975). A prompt determination of probable cause is one made within 48 hours of arrest. City of Riverside v. McLaughlin, 500 U.S. 44, 56 (1991). Here, police clearly exceeded the law’s 48-hour limit by providing defendant with a probable cause determination 73 hours after his arrest.
Involuntariness Is The Standard
However, even if police do not provide a defendant with a prompt determination of probable cause, a confession will not be suppressed unless it was given involuntarily. See People v. Willis, 215 Ill 2d 517. 535 (2005) (holding that a trial court facing a Gerstein/McLaughlin violation asks the question whether the confession was voluntary). We therefore turn to consider whether, in light of the delay of defendant’s probable cause determination, his confession was voluntary.
To determine whether defendant’s confession was voluntary, we consider the totality of the circumstances and the following factors:
(5) physical condition at the time of the detention and interrogation
(6) the duration of the interrogation
(6) the presence of Miranda warnings
(7) the presence of any physical or mental abuse and
(8) the legality and duration of the detention.
Defendant’s statement was voluntary unless his will was overcome by the police at the time he confessed. People v. Gilliam, 172 Ill. 2d 484, 500 (1996).
Factors Supporting Voluntariness
The trial court supported its decision with the following factual findings adduced from the evidentiary hearing on defendant’s motion to suppress his confession: Under a totality of the circumstances analysis…
- defendant was 17 years of age
- a high school student
- living with family members
- he was currently looking for a job
- was of average intelligence
- had no special needs
- clearly waived his Miranda rights
- was open and cooperative
- understood his Miranda Warnings
Investigation Was Ongoing
Within five hours of his first interview he gives an incriminating statement. Now at this point the Detective needs to continue to speak with the other children who were involved.
Understandably it took some time to locate and set up the children interviews. Nonetheless, at that time the victim sensitive interviews were being conducted you’re still within the forty-eight hour timeframe.
This was an investigation. This was not an attempt to get the defendant to confession and keep him in custody past forty-eight hours.
It’s quite clear the detective’s explanation for the delay was not “specious,” as defendant contends, but rather demonstrative of his intent to corroborate defendant’s account of the incident with statements obtained from M.W. and other child witnesses through VSIs.
When the VSIs were all completed and defendant reinterviewed on the latest findings and a judge found probable cause for his arrest the next morning. Any delay by police was attributed to the need to speak with the child witnesses before charging defendant with a felony offense. We find that the police did not engage in “delay for delay’s sake.”
Defendant was never interviewed longer than 30 minutes. The trial court’s factual findings as to defendant’s personal characteristics and the lack of police mistreatment support its ruling. When defendant was arrested, he was over the age of 17 and in the tenth grade taking geometry, chemistry, physical education, journalism and speech classes. The trial court noted the absence of any facts demonstrating that defendant was “below intelligence” or “a special needs student.” There was no indication of police mistreatment or mental abuse during defendant’s questioning.
True, defendant points out, he had no prior involvement with the police and no criminal background, but his inexperience alone does not support the suppression of his confession.
No Overt Abuse Here
This case was nothing like Westomorlond.
Westmoreland examined the confession of an “immature” and “terrified” 17-year-old defendant after police refused to contact his mother and detained him beyond the 48 hour limit imposed by McLaughlin. 372 Ill. App. at 869. The Westmoreland court held that the defendant’s physical characteristics, the interrogating police officer’s statement that “I don’t give a shit if you go to jail or not” and the fact that police refused defendant’s requests to contact his mother during questioning warranted the suppression of his confession. Westmoreland, 372 Ill. App. 3d at 890.
The police made no such statement here and defendant did not share the physical characteristics of the defendant in Westmoreland.
Not A Juvenile Case
Further, Defendant was not subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the JCA when he was questioned by police. See 705 ILCS 405/5-120 (West 2014) (prior to its amendment under Public Act 98–61, section 5 (eff. Jan. 1, 2014), the exclusive jurisdiction statute of the JCA applied to minors under the age of 17). Defendant therefore cannot avail himself of the protections afforded by this provision.
Alternatively, defendant argues that we should consider the “concerned adult” factor to find that his confession was involuntary. The concerned adult factor requires a determination of whether: (1) defendant had an opportunity to consult with an interested adult before or after interrogation; and (2) whether a police prevented defendant from contacting an interested adult or vice versa.
But unlike Westmoreland, there are no facts indicating that the police prevented defendant from contacting his parent or vice versa. To the contrary, defendant placed a phone call to his grandmother 15 hours after his arrest. We recognize that defendant was permitted to contact his grandmother after he made an oral confession, but do not find that this factor renders his written confession, which was given after he spoke with his grandmother, involuntary.
The totality of the circumstances do not warrant the suppression of defendant’s confession.
We hold that the trial court’s factual findings were not against the manifest weight of the evidence and its ultimate ruling was not in error. The delay of defendant’s probable cause determination beyond 48 hours was not the result of a willful disregard by police, indifference to defendant’s presence in custody or the product of police misconduct.
The police did not overbear defendant’s will and the State was at liberty to publish the written confession to the jury at trial.
- People v. Sanchez, 2018 IL App (1st) 143899 (April). Episode 488 (involuntary confession in part because 17 year old defendant not allowed to call his mom)
- People v. Suggs, 2016 IL App (2d) 140040 (June). Episode 199 (Defendant held for 98 hours before his probable cause hearing)