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Ruettiger and Ackerson then escorted defendant to the sheriff's department, which was a five-minute walk from the Center. I know there is [sic] issues regarding her mental state, her I. In Stansbury, the Court reasoned that as long as the officer's beliefs with respect to an individual's guilt are not revealed to that person, it does “not affect the objective circumstances of an interrogation or interview, and thus cannot affect the Miranda custody inquiry.” Stansbury, 511 U. Zoot concluded that defendant's full-range IQ of 74 places her in the “borderline range of intellectual functioning,” it was uncontradicted and stipulated that defendant was fit to stand trial because she possessed the ability to understand court proceedings and legal concepts. We also note that during the videotaped confession taken from defendant later in the day at the sheriff's department, defendant speaks very fluently with the officers, engages them in conversation, and has no apparent communication difficulties. Accordingly, there is no indication that defendant was in custody at the time this interaction took place. We also find that defendant was not the subject of any physical or mental abuse by her questioners, including the existence of threats or promises.During the walk, defendant was not handcuffed and no weapons were drawn. Q., her ability to fully understand, but I am not convinced that the statements made to the officers at the [sheriff's department] was [sic] involuntary. With respect to the second questioning session defendant underwent at the Center, during which she gave an inculpatory statement, we note that the trial court, while not specifically ruling on whether defendant was in custody during this questioning, did state that “you could argue that she could have walked out. The evidence is uncontroverted that defendant was told that her statements that K. had not suffered abuse were not believed, and that it was possible that K. would be removed from defendant's care if it was in the best interests of the minor to ensure her safety.The State also called Detective Richard Ackerson to testify at the suppression hearing, and he largely corroborated the testimony of his partner, Ruettiger. Since defendant was not in custody, Miranda warnings were not necessary. Accordingly, the appellate court erred in holding that the inculpatory statement made by defendant at the Center was involuntary and therefore inadmissible.Ackerson additionally testified that at the time of the second interview of defendant at the Center, the door to the room they were in was open at first, but when defendant became upset, began to cry, and became loud, they decided to shut the door so as not to disturb others at the Center. Having determined that the inculpatory statement made by defendant during the second questioning session at the Center did not violate Miranda, we address defendant's argument that notwithstanding the lack of Miranda warnings, her statement was nevertheless invalid, as it was involuntary. Because we hold that the inculpatory statement made by defendant during the second questioning session at the Center did not violate Miranda and was made knowingly and voluntarily, it was properly admissible at trial.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.S.] was being completely honest with us.” Ruettiger stated that he spoke to defendant in a small meeting room at the Center, which contained a desk and a few chairs. S., and she admitted that she and Deck were having sexual intercourse. Both Ruettiger and Ackerson were in plain clothes and had weapons that were holstered. So, I think that, clearly, the second interview at the Advocacy Center, the defendant is the focus. In addition, it is undisputed that Johnson informed defendant that, because he could not believe her denials that K. Further, the record is devoid of anything to indicate that the investigators harassed defendant or raised their voices. It is likewise uncontroverted that during this short session, defendant was interviewed alternately by Johnson alone, and at some point the two detectives also joined him; however, all three men were not in the room with defendant during the duration of the questioning.It was not Ruettiger's intent to close the door to keep defendant from leaving; rather, it was for privacy due to the sensitive nature of the discussions. I have to follow the Supreme Court's decisions and suppress those statements that are made. To the contrary, the record reflects that defendant interacted with different individuals at different times for different purposes, with the exception of Assistant State's Attorney Brink, who appears to have had no personal contact with defendant while she was at the Center. Throughout the time defendant was at the Center, the detectives were in plain clothes and not uniformed, although they did carry holstered weapons. As discussed earlier in this opinion, the evidence is uncontroverted that defendant's intellectual limitations were not outwardly apparent to the detectives and did not interfere with her ability to communicate with them. Although defendant's IQ was characterized as “borderline” by Dr. In examining the legality and duration of the detention and questioning, as we noted above, it is uncontroverted that defendant arrived at the Center of her own free will and not by police transport.Ruettiger stated that he and defendant had no trouble understanding each other during their interaction, and that defendant never told him that she wished to leave. Ruetigger then stepped out of the room and advised Assistant State's Attorney Brink of what had occurred. Now, we get down to, really, what I call the third interaction where [defendant] has been taken to [the sheriff's department]. We also find it significant that defendant was interacting with these individuals at the Center and not at a police station, which would likely present a more foreboding, intimidating and adversarial environment. We also note that although defendant was not advised that she was free to leave, she also at no time requested to leave. This is confirmed by our own review of defendant's subsequent videotaped statement, wherein she speaks fluently with the officers in a conversational manner, engages-and often leads-the officers in conversation, freely offers details, and is very open and cooperative. Zoot, it is uncontroverted and stipulated that defendant was fit to stand trial. Further, it is undisputed that the questioning session during which defendant gave her inculpatory statement was of short duration-15 minutes or less-and that it was aimed primarily at apprising defendant in her role as a parent of K.
The testimony at the suppression hearing revealed that once a report of abuse is received, it is standard procedure to arrange a “victim sensitive interview” (VSI) of the minor at the Center. took place on July 17, 2003, and defendant and her daughter arrived at the Center at 1 p.m. * * * [At that time defendant] at least is suspected of enabling some type of abuse. Because the trial court failed to employ the proper analytical framework and to consider the factors relevant to assessing whether defendant was subject to custodial interrogation, we address this issue in the first instance and examine the relevant factors. We first examine the initial questioning session at the Center.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).The Center makes the arrangements for the interview, and before the interview can take place, a parent must grant permission to speak with the child. They were driven to that location by Deck, who planned to wait in the car until he was called to pick them up at the completion of the interview. As a preliminary matter, we note that the trial court found that defendant was questioned on three occasions on July 17, 2003: she was questioned twice at the Center-when she initially arrived at that location and was interviewed by Pluth, and thereafter when she was questioned by Ruettiger, Ackerson and Johnson after K. admitted that she had engaged in sex with Deck-and later that afternoon at the sheriff's department. But I think that at that initial stage, that questioning is not at all the type that needs Miranda to apply. As stated, one factor considered in making a custody determination is the manner by which the individual arrived at the place of questioning. Defendant's voluntary arrival at the Center by means of her own transportation is distinguishable from a situation in which a defendant is transported to and from the place of interrogation by law enforcement officers and has no other means of egress from that location. The testimony was uncontroverted that it was standard procedure for a parent to be interviewed by someone from the Center prior to a VSI of the child in order to gain permission for the child's interview, and that this was the purpose of Pluth's discussion with defendant. E.2d 103 (1982) (factors supporting defendant was in custody included his interrogation over a 12-hour period).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.