Electronic monitoring evidence cannot be introduced in murder trial

By John Breslin | May 18, 2018

Evidence that a man accused of murder was on electronic home detention when the shooting death happened cannot be used in his trial, an appeals court has ruled,

Evidence that a man accused of murder was on electronic home detention when the shooting death happened cannot be used in his trial, an appeals court has ruled,

The state of Illinois wanted to introduce the evidence as part of its case against Thomas Flakes, who is accused of the first degree murder of Darrin Hayes in Belleville in February 2014.

At the time of the murder, Flakes was being monitored electronically as he awaited trial on an aggravated burglary charge. He was later sentenced to six years on that charge, according to a number of news reports.

The Fifth District Appellate Court affirmed St. Clair County associate judge Randall Kelley, now retired, who ruled that the evidence of his electronic monitoring could not be introduced as evidence, even if the accused testified at trial.

"Maintaining that the evidence would inform the jury that the defendant harbored 'erstwhile criminality,' the defendant contended that the evidence would severely prejudice the defendant and would tend to confuse and mislead the jury," Justice David Overstreet wrote.

"The trial court did not abuse its discretion in prohibiting the state from introducing evidence that when the charged murder was committed, the defendant was on electronic home detention in an unrelated felony case and was in noncompliance with the detention’s conditions."

The judgment turned on whether evidence that Flakes was being electronically monitored, and was allegedly out of range and attending a church after being given "movement approval", at the time of the murder.

In October 2015, the state charged Flakes with the first first-degree felony murder of Hayes, who was shot dead during an armed robbery.

The following year, the state gave notice that it intended to introduce evidence of his prior felony convictions, included for aggravated robbery, if he testified at trial.

The state wanted to introduce evidence that he was under supervision of the St. Clair County probation department at the time of the murder but was not within range of his home monitoring device at the time of the murder.

Overstreet wrote in his judgement:  "We thus agree with the defendant’s assertion that the court did 'nothing but prevent the State from using evidence of [his] prior conviction and electronic monitoring violation,' and we decline the state’s invitation to conclude otherwise.

"When the state appeals from an order suppressing evidence, the reviewing court has no jurisdiction over evidence that was not suppressed.  Such evidence is simply not part of the case."

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