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Judge: George didn't invoke Fifth Amendment

Ruling means prosecutors can use potentially incriminating statements

Published: Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014 2:18 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014 9:23 p.m. CDT
Charles T. George

DIXON – A Lee County judge decided today that a man accused of first-degree murder in the shaking death of his infant daughter did not invoke his right to remain silent during a police interview.

In a motion filed in November, Charles T. George's attorney, public defender Bob Thompson, argued that George, 36, of Dixon, invoked his constitutional right to remain silent during an interview with Dixon police officers.

According to the transcript:

George: "Do I need a lawyer?"

Officer: "That decision's up to you."

George: "Well, I don't wanna say anything. And I know that y'all recording this (expletive) and it's going to come back to haunt me later on."

Judge Ron Jacobson said that if one were to look at that statement out of context, it would appear to be a clear invocation of the Fifth Amendment, but case law demands that the statement be examined within the context of the situation. When looking at that, the judge said, George didn't take the Fifth.

"Taking the Fifth" requires a clear and unambiguous statement, he said, but, given the context, he found George's to not be that.

"Rather than not responding, or being quiet and standing up and leaving ... the defendant began talking to the officers again," Jacobson said.

He called George's statement "ambiguous, equivocal and not sufficient" to grant the defendant's motion.

If granted, the rest of the interview conducted by Dixon police officers would not have been admissible as evidence to the court, including some statements that authorities believe were incriminating.

This is the second time Thompson has argued George invoked the Fifth Amendment during his interview with Dixon officers. But during the first motion to suppress, he focused on a different statement made by George. That, too, was denied.

George is charged with first-degree murder, four counts of aggravated battery of a child, and one count of aggravated domestic battery of a child.

In September 2010, prosecutors say, George committed first-degree murder when he slammed his daughter on to the floor, causing skull fractures, and shook her, causing severe brain injury, rib fractures and retinal detachments which ultimately caused her death.

His daughter, 3-month-old Tamari, died 5 days later at a Rockford hospital.

George remained in the Lee County Jail today on a $1 million bond.

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