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.In addition, Ackerson testified that when they interviewed defendant at the sheriff's department, the door to the room was closed. We note that defendant's argument echoes the appellate court's concerns about the voluntariness of this statement. Therefore, the second inculpatory statement made by defendant thereafter at the sheriff's department could not be tainted by the properly obtained first statement.
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.
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 presented the testimony of Detective John Ruettiger, a member of the Will County sheriff's department, who stated that he and his partner, Detective Richard Ackerson, were present at the Center at the time defendant and her daughter arrived. She has been-the information she is providing has already been investigated and somewhat invalidated. No police officers were present during this initial questioning session. There was no indication that the door was ever locked.
The sheriff's department had received a report from DCFS alleging that K. was the victim of sexual abuse, opened a criminal investigation file, and assigned him and his partner to attend the VSI. Ruettiger decided that he and Ackerson would speak further with K. made this admission, Ruettiger and Ackerson returned to speak with defendant, who was still in the interview room with Johnson. Ruettiger denied that the purpose of this discussion was to gain a confession from defendant; rather, he stated that he intended to do some “fact finding” with respect to the admission made by K. Ruettiger testified that this second interview with defendant lasted between 10 and 15 minutes. And the second time she is questioned at the Advocacy Center, it's clear to me that she is a suspect in this action. Ed.2d at 300; see also Braggs, 209 Ill.2d at 506-07, 284 Ill. Analyzing these same specific factors in terms of the second interview of defendant at the Center, we note that it took place in an interview room which contained a table and chairs. The evidence was also uncontroverted that this session with defendant was intended to both apprise her of the fact that her 11-year-old daughter had just admitted she was having sex with Deck in defendant's home, and also, in the words of Ruettiger, to help the investigators do some “fact finding” with respect to K. from defendant's care if he thought there was a danger to the minor and if that was in the best interests of the child.
Defendant alleged that the statement made at the Center occurred while she was in custody and without her receiving warnings pursuant to Miranda v. Defendant agreed and signed a written safety plan, which allowed K. to remain in the home pending the outcome of the investigation. Having found that defendant was subject to three questioning sessions on July 17, 2003, the trial court then framed its analysis and holdings as follows:“The initial questioning of [defendant] occurs when she brings her daughter in for, basically, a VSI * * * [a]nd [defendant] is questioned in a very, I guess not an abnormal fashion where a parent brings in a child, that there is information that that child is potentially a victim of abuse. Accordingly, the trial court erred by basing its ruling that Miranda warnings were required prior to defendant's second statement at the Center solely upon what it believed to be the officers' focus upon defendant as a suspect. We also look to the location, time, length, mood, and mode of the questioning, as well as the number of police officers present.
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.
Gnidovec, Office of the State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor, Ottawa, of counsel), for the People.
The appellate court reversed defendant's conviction and remanded the cause for a new trial. 3-04-0640 (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23). In addition, defendant alleged that the statements were involuntary because she is intellectually limited and they were made after she was threatened with the loss of her children.
Prior to the start of questioning, Ruettiger read defendant her Miranda rights from a preprinted form. defendant signed the form, indicating that she had received the rights, understood them and waived them. In both instances, the trial court misdirected its analysis and pegged its Miranda holdings upon what it perceived were the varying levels of suspicion the officers harbored with respect to defendant's guilt. We observe that the entire extent of the analysis of the appellate court with respect to the question of whether defendant was in custody is comprised of two sentences. In fact, during her subsequent videotaped statement, defendant candidly admitted that she was telling the truth about what happened between K. and Deck because she not only wanted to keep her daughter away from him, but also wanted to prevent him from victimizing other young girls, such as her daughter's friend.