Murder Defendant Says Confession Was Forced in New Lenox Homicide Case
Rodney Julun was charged last year with the murder and robbery of Dwight Jones in New Lenox Township. At a hearing Friday, police said the interrogation was by the books.
A Chicago man charged with a New Lenox Township murder was denied his rights and coerced into a false confession through an uncomfortable and lonely stint in a police interrogation room, his family and attorneys said Friday.
“Reckless ... dishonest ... illegal” — Will County Judge Daniel Rozak will rule on the veracity of such claims later this month after he watches footage of Rodney Julun's interrogation for himself.
On June 10, 2011, Dwight Jones was beaten to death inside his home with a lamp and then robbed over several days as his corpse decayed.
Police arrested Julun, 23, at his home on the afternoon of June 23, 2011, and later charged him with first-degree murder. A witness allegedly identified him as the man who sold Jones’ cell phone.
On Friday, prosecutors called Will County detective Jeremy Viduna to testify on the legality what happened next in a Will County Sheriff’s Office interrogation room. He said he and another officer, plain clothed, read Julun his rights and stopped their questioning an hour later, as soon as Julun asked for an attorney.
Fifteen hours passed, according to Viduna, and at 8:13 a.m. June 24, Julun asked to resume the interview — at which point he was read his rights a second time.
“He told me he was responsible for Mr. Jones’ death,” Viduna said.
During the 24 hours that he remained in the interrogation room — he was finally brought to the detention center that afternoon — Julun was given three meals, water, multiple bathroom breaks, a cigarette and a blanket to sleep with.
If Julun was uncomfortable, Viduna said, he did not complain and showed no sign of it.
The detective was asked point blank by assistant state’s attorney Christopher Regis about his interrogation methods.
“Did you ever threaten Mr. Julun?”
“Did you ever threaten Mr. Julun with physical violence?”
But the defense contends he didn’t have to. They say the time Julun spent in an interrogation room, alone, sleeping on a cold floor under constant police surveillance, broke his will and produced self-incriminating but also “rambling and incoherent” statements.
A motion filed by assistant public defender Michael Renzi calls the interrogation “psychologically coercive,” noting that “the defendant was so shaken and confused … he cried and frequently asked to go home.”
Norma Sterling, Julun’s mother, told Patch after Friday’s hearing that she possesses a letter from her son detailing the anguish he endured in custody. At the time this article was published, she had not provided a copy.
She said the testimony of detective Viduna, particularly the bit about a cigarette because her son has never smoked, bolstered rather than broke an internal resolve in her son’s innocence and mistreatment.
“My son didn’t do it,” she said. “I know it because the Lord told me.”
Julun’s sister, Rachel Mccadd, said the arresting officers tricked Julun into coming to the station under the pretense of a meeting with his probation officer and then searched the family's home without a warrant. The defense made similar allegations in its written motion with the court, but called no witnesses to back them up.
They are asking Judge Rozak to throw out any statements Julun made during his interrogation, as well as any DNA samples and fingerprints collected therein.
Prosecutors gave Rozak a DVD copy of the interrogation and surveillance footage from the Will County Sheriff’s Office.
The judge will render an opinion on June 14, the day after he is scheduled to sentence two men who have pleaded guilty to helping Julun rob Dwight Jones’ home.