MOUNT VERNON – Fifth District appellate judges found former chief circuit judge John Baricevic correctly suppressed statements that teenage murder suspect Darran McCloud made after telling police, “I don’t want to say nothing.”
In a Jan. 18 decision, Justice Thomas Welch wrote, “The defendant’s statement here was not connected to any conditional language.”
“The defendant clearly stated that he did not want to say anything, with no qualification or limitation,” Welch wrote.
“The United States and Illinois Constitutions provide that no person should be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.”
The ruling maintains that interrogation must cease once an individual indicates in any manner and at any time that he wishes to remain silent.
“Any statement taken after the individual invokes the right to remain silent cannot be other than the product of compulsion, subtle or otherwise,” Welch wrote.
Justices David Overstreet and Randy Moore concurred.
Police arrested McCloud on Feb. 24, 2015, as a suspect in a shooting that resulted in death for Frederick Purnell and injuries for Daishawn Stacker.
Bullets hit them in a vehicle after a robbery plan fell apart.
State police agent Dennis Janis conducted an interview that lasted eight hours in a 10 by 10-foot room with no window.
McCloud, now 22 years old, was 18 at the time.
Welch, who watched the video, wrote, “For much of the interview, the defendant denied knowledge of the shooting.”
According to details of the interrogation in the ruling, McCloud told Janis he was inside an apartment, heard no shots, and denied any knowledge of who was involved. Eventually, he admitted that he knew Stacker wanted to commit a robbery and that he heard shots.
Janis urged McCloud to tell him who committed the crime, and McCloud wouldn’t implicate anyone beyond Stacker. McCloud said he didn’t need to say anything because neighbors had surveillance and more stuff would come out.
Janis said others implicated him and he should tell what happened.
McCloud said, “That ain’t me to tell who did it.”
McCloud agreed to take a voice stress test.
Sauget detective John Parisi conducted it and told McCloud he failed.
McCloud admitted he knew who did the shooting but said he wouldn’t “come in here and do no talking.”
Welch wrote that Parisi left and Janis brought in state police sergeant Elbert Jennings.
According to the ruling, Jennings knew McCloud from a state police youth camp and through a cousin dating McCloud’s father.
Janis and Jennings told McCloud there was a big difference between shooting at a person intentionally and shooting at the back of a vehicle.
McCloud said that he would take it to the grave and that the words wouldn’t come out of his mouth.
Jennings told him to stop covering for people and to make a big boy decision and tell the truth. He told McCloud that there was a difference between mistakes and intentional conduct.
McCloud said there were consequences for both, and asked if they had video.
Janis asked what difference that would make.
“Cause I don’t want to say nothing,” McCloud said. He told them to watch the video because they wouldn’t see him.
McCloud eventually admitted he was the shooter but explained that he was trying to scare the driver and was aiming at the rear bumper.
McCloud said he shot five times. He said he thought the bullets went into the trunk.
Police passed the statement along to state’s attorney Brendan Kelly, who charged that McCloud murder with intent.
McCloud posted bond and retained Justin Kuehn and Lloyd M. Cueto.
They moved to suppress his statements in 2016.
At a hearing on Oct. 18, 2016, Janis testified that he never suggested McCloud would receive any benefit for admitting his involvement.
On cross examination, Janis conceded that a person who accidentally shot someone during the commission of a felony could be guilty of murder.
Parisi testified that he told McCloud it wouldn’t be murder if a bullet went awry, and conceded that it wasn’t necessarily true.
Jennings testified that he made comments about a difference between shooting someone accidentally and shooting someone on purpose. He said he meant there was a moral difference rather than a legal one, and that his “big boy” comment was meant to indicate that McCloud should accept consequences for his actions.
Clinical psychologist Daniel Cuneo testified that McCloud told him he didn’t ask for an attorney because he was inexperienced with the legal system.
Cuneo said McCloud felt pressured to confess and did so because he trusted Jennings.
Eight days later, Baricevic suppressed all statements McCloud made after saying he didn’t want to say nothing.
“What more can one say?” Baricevic wrote. “Doesn’t nothing mean nothing?
“It seems to me that police and prosecutors believe they have an open door to ignore a demand for silence.”
He wrote that interpreting a demand as equivocal allows them to pursue their goals.
“In striving to get statements admitted pushing the envelope may be acceptable for police, it is not for judges,” he wrote.
Kelly appealed, asserting among other arguments that Baricevic misheard McCloud.
The argument failed.
“Although there were some instances in the video when it was hard to understand the defendant, this was not one of them,” Baricevic wrote.
Circuit Judge Stephen McGlynn now presides over the case. He has set a status conference Feb. 19.