Friday, April 27, 2012

Statements properly suppressed

Jeffrey G. Dazey won in State v. Christopher, No. 106,376 (Kan. App. April 20, 2012)(unpublished), affirming Judge Tatum's suppression of several statements as a Miranda violation.  Although the COA reversed suppression of evidence on Fourth Amendment grounds, it held that Mr. Christopher was in custody and therefore Miranda warnings were required:
A total of two detectives were in the room with Christopher at the time he made the statements at issue here, and nurses were in and out of the room constantly. The door was open, but the curtains were pulled in front of it. There was no show of force by the police. Christopher had entered the hospital on his own initiative. Detectives spoke to Christopher for a combined total of about 20 minutes, with the challenged questioning taking up only about 3–4 minutes. Detectives had learned from Golden that a shooting had occurred in Kansas City, Missouri, and Peters testified that at that point “it was determined, okay, yeah, we're going to have to at some point take him into custody here because we can't let him go until we figure out where that victim is.” Christopher was not formally taken into custody by the detectives or told he was in custody at that time, but the sheriff's department was contacted to provide “a couple deputies,” to guard him until after his surgery. He was subsequently guarded while in the hospital and arrested by deputies after his surgery.
At the same time, unbeknownst to the detectives, Schadegg was in his patrol car writing up an arrest report related to Christopher's possession of cocaine and drug paraphernalia. Schadegg and Douglas, who found the drugs, conceded that once they found the drugs and paraphernalia, Christopher was not free to leave. But Christopher was not immediately arrested because he was being admitted to the hospital for surgery on his foot. Neither Douglas nor Schadegg ever advised Christopher of his Miranda rights, nor did they ask him any further questions after searching the room and locating the drugs.
. . . .
After considering the Morton factors and the unique facts of this case, we agree with the district court and find that, based on the totality of the circumstances, a reasonable person in Christopher's position would not have felt he or she was at liberty to terminate this interrogation by the detectives and leave. We find it compelling that Christopher watched while officers recovered a crack pipe and 14 baggies of cocaine from his clothing, leaving little doubt that his arrest would be imminent and his freedom to leave the hospital curtailed. In addition, officers were in his room or outside his door at all times and he was arrested following his surgery.
[Update: the mandate issued in this case on August 28, 2012.]

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