People v. Richardson

Full title: The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff–Appellee, v. Andre RICHARDSON, Defendant–Appellant.

Court: Appellate Court of Illinois, First District, Third Division.

Date published: Mar 25, 2015

Facts

On February 9, 2001, Richardson, who was 16 years old, was arrested at 4837 South St. Lawrence Avenue in Chicago in connection with the murder of his 11–month–old daughter, Diamond Clark. At the police station, Richardson gave a videotaped statement in which he made inculpatory remarks, including that he bit his daughter, struck her numerous times with a coat hanger and belt, struck her face with his hands, struck her in the ribs, and shook her.

Before trial, the defense filed a motion to suppress Richardson’s videotaped statement as involuntary. In the motion, Richardson alleged, in part, that he was incapable of understanding the full meaning of his Miranda rights and that the statements sought to be suppressed were obtained as a result of physical coercion illegally directed against him by police. After a hearing, at which the evidence showed that Richardson received an injury to his left eye at the police station lockup, the trial court denied the motion to suppress. The court found that although Richardson was injured at the police station, the detectives and Assistant State’s Attorney who questioned him were not involved in the altercation. Furthermore, Richardson was advised of his rights, did not complain of any pain or request medical assistance, and appeared calm on the videotape. The trial court thus concluded that the totality of the circumstances showed that the confession was voluntary.

At Richardson’s 2005 jury trial, the trial court admitted into evidence his videotaped inculpatory statement and forensic evidence. The State’s evidence at trial also included the testimony of Cyntoria Clark, the baby’s mother; James Franklin, an eyewitness to part of the beating; Monica Smith, the neighbor who called “911”; Michael Hayes, the arresting officer; and Assistant State’s Attorney (ASA) John Heil. Richardson, the sole witness for the defense, testified that his videotaped statement was true, except for hitting his daughter with a belt, which he did not do. At the close of the evidence, the jury returned a verdict of guilty of first-degree murder.

At sentencing, the presentence investigation report (PSI) revealed that Richardson had been a learning-disabled student throughout his life and that, when he was transferred to jail at age 17, he could not read. The fitness evaluation presented at sentencing concluded that Richardson was fit for sentencing. It also indicated that he achieved a full-scale IQ score of 61, which falls within the extremely low range of intellectual functioning and ranked him at the 0.5 percentile when compared to his same-aged peers. The evaluation also stated that Richardson “appears to fall in the upper echelon of mild mental retardation.” Following a sentencing hearing, the court sentenced Richardson to 40 years’ imprisonment.

On appeal, this court reversed Richardson’s conviction on the basis that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress where the State failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that his eye injury was not inflicted in order to obtain a confession. People v. Richardson, 376 Ill.App.3d 537314 Ill.Dec. 915875 N.E.2d 1202 (2007). The State was granted leave to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court. People v. Richardson, 226 Ill.2d 627317 Ill.Dec. 507882 N.E.2d 81 (2008). Before our Supreme Court, the State argued that Richardson’s inculpatory statement was voluntary and not coerced. The Supreme Court agreed and reversed this court’s decision, instructing this court to consider Richardson’s remaining contentions. People v. Richardson, 234 Ill.2d 233334 Ill.Dec. 675917 N.E.2d 501 (2009).

On remand, this court considered Richardson’s remaining contentions and affirmed the judgment of the trial court. People v. Richardson, 401 Ill.App.3d 45340 Ill.Dec. 740929 N.E.2d 44 (2010). In the relevant part, this court rejected Richardson’s claim that he was denied effective assistance of trial counsel based on counsel’s failure to offer expert testimony concerning his mental impairment during the motion to suppress hearing. Id. at 46, 340 Ill.Dec. 740929 N.E.2d 44. We acknowledged that Richardson’s mental capacity was raised during sentencing but observed that the information in the PSI did not deal with Richardson’s ability to waive his Miranda rights. Id. at 48, 340 Ill.Dec. 740929 N.E.2d 44.

On June 15, 2011, Richardson filed a pro se postconviction petition alleging that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to present evidence of his limited mental capacity at the hearing on his motion to suppress statements. Richardson asserted that this evidence would have shown that he could not have knowingly and intelligently waived his Miranda rights before providing his inculpatory statements to the State.

Issue

Decision

Even Richardson knows he must be held accountable for the terrible things he did to Diamond. No one could hear the facts in this case and not be moved to seek justice for that child. But we must also seek justice for another child, the boy child who was her father but was unable to be her parent. Justice for this defendant would be to remand his pro se postconviction petition so that it can move to the second stage with an attorney who can amend the petition and properly prepare his case.

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