Saturday, June 06, 2015

"I'm going to take my rights" is an invocation of Miranda rights

Debra Wilson won in State v. Aguirre, No. 106,570 (Kan. May 15, 2015), obtaining a new trial in a Riley County capital murder prosecution.  The primary issue in the case involved admission of statements obtained from interrogation of Mr. Aguirre.  The KSC described the environment of a first interrogation:
the interrogation began under the guise that the officers were simply trying to locate Tanya. But the questioning intensified as the detectives began refuting Aguirre's answers, becoming especially aggressive after the detectives confronted Aguirre with their knowledge that Tanya was dead. The interrogators told Aguirre that they knew he was lying about having no knowledge of Tanya's death and that lying would make him look worse than if he told the truth. They fed Aguirre the suggestion that Tanya's death might have been accidental, that Aguirre was probably bothered by the knowledge of what happened, and that it was time for Aguirre "to let it off [his] shoulders." They also used the tack of urging Aguirre to tell what happened so Tanya's family could find some peace.
The KSC then quoted extensively from the interrogation and concluded that Mr. Aguirre's statement that "[t]his is—I guess where I, I'm going to take my rights," could not be reasonably understood to be anything other than an invocation of his Miranda rights.  The KSC held that continuing interrogation after invocation of Miranda required suppression.

The KSC also held that the Miranda violation tainted statements obtained in a second interrogation and required their suppression as well.

Finally, the KSC held that the state failed to prove the erroneous admission was harmless and, therefore reversed.

[Update: the state filed a motion for rehearing on June 4, 2015.]

[Further update: the KSC denied the motion for rehearing and the mandate issued on July 6, 2015.]

[Further update: on July 8, 2015, the state filed a motion to withdraw the mandate upon its notice of intent to file a petition for a writ of certiorari.]

[Further update: on July 20, 2015, the KSC withdrew its mandate pending the state's filing of a petition for a writ of certiorari.]

[Further update: on January 19, 2016, the SCOTUS denied the state's petition for a writ of certiorari.]

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