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In defendant's words, Deck became “fascinated” with K. Appellate court judgment reversed; circuit court judgment affirmed. Johnson testified that upon visiting defendant's home, he could visibly see that her husband had “very low” intellectual capabilities.S., bought her expensive gifts, and started to sleep in the same bed as K. Defendant freely offered information to the officers, spoke in great detail about her knowledge of the relationship between Deck and her daughter, and related various specific incidents where they were “acting like boyfriend and girlfriend.” She was only occasionally prompted by the officers with questions; for the most part, defendant controlled the conversation and the topics. Justice FREEMAN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion: Chief Justice THOMAS and Justices FITZGERALD, KILBRIDE, GARMAN, KARMEIER, and BURKE concurred in the judgment and opinion.
According to protocol, defendant was interviewed by Mary Jane Pluth, a Center social worker, to obtain permission to speak with K. Defendant gave her consent and, in the course of doing so, denied that any abuse had occurred. S., who also denied that any abuse had taken place. As stated, findings of fact made by a trial court on a suppression motion are accorded deference because that court is in the best position to observe the conduct and demeanor of the parties and witnesses, to assess their credibility, and to give the appropriate weight to the evidence. However, then there is a subsequent, a second, interview at the Advocacy Center where it's pretty clear that [defendant] is considered a suspect. We note, however, that even under such circumstances, this would be “one among many factors that bear upon the assessment whether that individual was in custody,” and not the sole determinant of that issue. It is undisputed that defendant made her own way to the Center, as she was driven there by Deck, who was also waiting to pick her and K. The evidence showed that this was a very short encounter of a few minutes duration, that the discussion was only between defendant and Pluth, and that defendant granted Pluth permission to interview K. and, in the course of doing so, denied that any abuse had taken place. Although the testimony was not entirely clear as to whether and when the door of the room was opened or closed, it appears that it was closed at the time that defendant began to cry and become upset and loud as a means to ensure not only the privacy of the sensitive discussions but also that others at the Center were not disturbed.Lisa Madigan, Attorney General, Springfield, James W. O'Connell, Assistant Attorneys General, Chicago, Norbert J. Robert Agostinelli, Deputy Defender, Maureen Williams, Office of the State Appellate Defender, Peoria, for appellee.Glasgow, State's Attorney, Joliet (Gary Feinerman, Michael A. OPINIONFollowing a bench trial in the circuit court of Will County, defendant, Pamela Slater, was convicted of one count of permitting the sexual abuse of a child (720 ILCS 150/5.1 (West 2002)) and was sentenced to four years' incarceration.He and Ackerson then told defendant that they wanted to speak to her in more detail about the relationship between K. Defendant agreed, and they began the videotaped statement at approximately p.m. Based upon our review of the record, we reject the conclusion of the appellate court and hold that with respect to the second questioning session at the Center, a reasonable innocent person, faced with the circumstances in which defendant found herself, would have felt at liberty to terminate the questioning and leave. We have examined the particular circumstances surrounding defendant's questioning, as well as her relevant personal characteristics, and conclude that she was not induced to make an involuntary inculpatory statement.Ruettiger testified that he did not know that defendant and her husband were receiving services for developmentally disabled persons until defendant mentioned it during the taped interview. The determination of whether a defendant is “in custody,” and, therefore, whether the warnings set forth in Miranda are required, involves “ ‘[t]wo discrete inquiries * * *: first, what were the circumstances surrounding the interrogation; and second, given those circumstances, would a reasonable person have felt he or she was not at liberty to terminate the interrogation and leave.’ ” Braggs, 209 Ill.2d at 505-06, 284 Ill. In sum, we hold that the circumstances surrounding the second questioning session at the Center were noncustodial, as no innocent person would have believed that her freedom was restrained. Ed.2d 1, 8 (1976); Melock, 149 Ill.2d at 452, 174 Ill. We hold that the inculpatory statement made by defendant during the second questioning session at the Center was voluntary and not the product of police coercion.The State then played the videotaped statement of defendant made at the sheriff's department, which corroborated the prior testimony of Ruettiger and Ackerson. and showed defendant sitting in a room at a table being primarily questioned by Ruettiger, with Ackerson sitting off to the side. Even where Miranda warnings are not required, the fifth amendment still demands that a defendant's confession be voluntary. Because we hold that the first confession at the Center was valid, the appellate court erred by holding that the second confession at the sheriff's department was tainted.
Defendant stated that Deck had been dating her friend, and that defendant and her husband let the couple live in their home. CONCLUSIONFor the foregoing reasons, the judgment of the appellate court is reversed, and the judgment of the circuit court of Will County is affirmed.
Ruettiger then asked defendant if “she would come with us to the criminal investigation offices to talk about further what we had talked about at the Advocacy Center,” and defendant agreed. * * *The in custody, the true in custody investigation [at the sheriff's department] creates some additional issues. And I suppose there is a question of whether there was a sufficient intervening of circumstances that would validate the supplemental questioning and the videotaped statement that was given. Defendant has no criminal history and no acknowledged contact with the criminal justice system, although the evidence reveals that she has dealt with DCFS in the past. Although there was testimony that defendant and her husband were receiving services through an agency for the developmentally disabled, it is unclear whether those services were primarily directed toward defendant, or whether she was a recipient of such services as a result of her marriage to her husband. Our review of the above factors leads to the conclusion that, based upon the circumstances presented, a reasonable innocent person in defendant's position would have felt free to terminate her encounter and leave the Center if she so desired. However, all three were not in the room for the entire questioning session.
Defendant never asked if she had to go, and they did not tell her that she did not have to accompany them. When examining the circumstances of interrogation, this court has found a number of factors to be relevant in determining whether a statement was made in a custodial setting, including: (1) the location, time, length, mood, and mode of the questioning; (2) the number of police officers present during the interrogation; (3) the presence or absence of family and friends of the individual; (4) any indicia of a formal arrest procedure, such as the show of weapons or force, physical restraint, booking or fingerprinting; (5) the manner by which the individual arrived at the place of questioning; and (6) the age, intelligence, and mental makeup of the accused. Clearly, at this point [defendant] is cooperating, is giving what appears to be a free and voluntary statement. Defendant underwent a fitness evaluation prior to trial, and although Dr. Further, the testimony is undisputed that defendant did not have difficulty in communicating with anyone at the Center, and that there was no outward indication whatsoever that she is developmentally disabled. With respect to the first questioning session between Pluth and defendant, there is nothing in the record to indicate that this was anything other than a routine discussion between a member of the Center and a parent who was requested to give her permission to allow her child to take part in a VSI based upon information that the child was potentially a victim of abuse. E.2d 531 (2005); Gilliam, 172 Ill.2d at 500-01, 218 Ill. Again, we also note that this questioning occurred in an interview room at the Center and not in a police station.
BACKGROUNDDefendant was charged with predatory criminal sexual assault of a child (720 ILCS 5/12-14.1(a)(1) (West 2002)) and with permitting the sexual abuse of a child (720 ILCS 150/5.1 (West 2002)). places her in the borderline range of intellectual functioning and her verbal abilities are low average,” Dr. At the ensuing suppression hearing, the evidence revealed that authorities became aware that K. had possibly been subjected to sexual abuse through a tip called into the DCFS hotline by defendant's friend. Johnson performed a criminal background check on defendant and her husband and found that they had no criminal history; however, he did discover that at least three other prior reports had been made to DCFS about the family, and defendant's children had been removed. There is no evidence before us that any suspicions that the investigators may have had with respect to defendant's potential culpability were ever communicated to her, and, in fact, defendant makes no such argument.
The State alleged that the child victim in this case was defendant's 11-year-old daughter, K. Among the several pretrial motions filed by defendant was a motion to determine her fitness to stand trial. Randi Zoot, found defendant to be “alert, oriented to person, place date and situation, and cooperative,” and that she had a verbal IQ of 81, a performance IQ of 70, and a full-scale IQ of 74. Zoot concluded that defendant did “not suffer from a mental disorder that interferes with her ability to understand the court proceedings, the role of the court participants or from cooperating with her attorney in her defense.” The parties stipulated that Dr. Defendant also moved to suppress oral and videotaped inculpatory statements made by her on July 17, 2003, at the Will County Child Advocacy Center (Center) and at the Criminal Investigations Office at the Will County sheriff's department (sheriff's department). DCFS investigator Maurice Johnson followed up on this allegation by speaking to the tipster, who stated that a man named Brian Deck was living with defendant's family, and that he and K. Johnson then visited defendant's home, where he spoke to her, her husband and K. Defendant and her husband were told by Johnson that Deck had to leave the premises and could not return or have any contact with K. until DCFS determined that it was safe for him to do so. Based upon our review of the record, we hold that the trial court's finding that defendant was questioned in two separate sessions at the Center and thereafter at the sheriff's department is not against the manifest weight of the evidence. Further, the trial court made no factual finding that the officers conveyed in any manner a belief to defendant that she was guilty or how this knowledge would affect a reasonable person in defendant's position with respect to her perception that she was free to leave. E.2d 472 (defendant found “in custody” for Miranda purposes where officers transported her to and from multiple interrogations).
Ruettiger stated that at that time defendant “was not the focus of our investigation,” and that it was not unusual that DCFS investigator Johnson and Will County Assistant State's Attorney Heidi Brink were also present at the Center. S., Ruettiger stated that he, Ackerson, Pluth, Johnson and Brink met to discuss the interviews, and concluded that both defendant and K. S., and informed defendant that they were doing so because “we didn't believe that [K. stated that Deck was a family friend who was in his thirties and who had lived on and off at her family's home for several months. Ruettiger stated that the purpose of this second interview with defendant was twofold: to inform defendant of what K. had just told them and to find out if defendant knew that K. Defendant was not given Miranda warnings, and she was not handcuffed during their conversation. And it's also pretty clear to me that she at that point should have been Mirandized before the questioning proceeded. The testimony was uncontroverted that this session lasted for the short duration of only between 10 to 15 minutes. S.'s admission so that they could ensure her safety. There is nothing in the record to indicate that defendant was ever threatened that her children would be removed from her care as a result of her failure to confess; defendant was simply apprised of the next steps that would be taken to ensure her child's safety.