337 F.3d 175 (2nd Cir. 2003), 02-2275, Parsad v. Greiner

Docket Nº:02-2275
Citation:337 F.3d 175
Party Name:Parsad v. Greiner
Case Date:July 21, 2003
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
 
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337 F.3d 175 (2nd Cir. 2003)

Randolph PARSAD, Petitioner-Appellant,

v.

Charles GREINER, Superintendent, Sing Sing Correctional Facility, Eliot Spitzer, Attorney General of New York, Respondents-Appellees.

No. 02-2275.

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

July 21, 2003

Argued: March 4, 2003.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Lawrence T. Hausman, The Legal Aid Society, New York, N.Y. for Petitioner-Appellant Randolph Parsad.

Anne C. Feigus, Assistant District Attorney, Kings County District Attorney's Office (Charles J. Hynes, District Attorney, and Leonard Joblove and Victor Barall, Assistant District Attorneys, on the brief), Brooklyn, N.Y. for Respondents-Appellees.

Before: McLAUGHLIN, JACOBS, POOLER, Circuit Judges.

POOLER, Circuit Judge.

Randolph Parsad ("petitioner") appeals from the March 29, 2002 order of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York (Carol Bagley Amon, District Judge) denying his petition for a writ of habeas corpus, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. We granted a certificate of appealability to determine whether the state court erred in holding that the admission of certain inculpatory statements did not violate petitioner's rights under the Fifth Amendment and Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966). For purposes of this appeal, we assume that petitioner was in custody when he made his initial, pre-Miranda statements and therefore assume that the detectives should have administered Miranda warnings earlier than they did. We hold, however, that petitioner's subsequent statements, which followed properly administered Miranda warnings, were both voluntary and cumulative of his initial statements. On this basis, we affirm the district court's decision.

BACKGROUND

On the morning of June 5, 1994, in response to a 911 call, police officers discovered

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the severely beaten body of Krzystof Minicz at an abandoned construction site. Detective Jerome Geiger, who was assigned to investigate the case, learned that Minicz was a homeless man who frequented the construction site with two other homeless men, petitioner and Robert James. Upon locating petitioner and James, who were then drinking beer and rum, Detective Geiger and three other officers identified themselves and indicated that they wished the two men to come to the 63rd Precinct station. Petitioner and James stood and walked to the officers' vehicles without speaking. The officers then drove to the station, and upon arriving at approximately 5:50 p.m., they escorted petitioner and James to separate rooms. About ten minutes later, Detective Geiger told petitioner about the investigation and asked whether he knew Minicz. Petitioner responded that "he didn't want to talk about it [and that] he didn't want to say anything." Detective Geiger then asked petitioner whether he made the 911 call, and petitioner denied making the call. Geiger testified, however, that petitioner had identified himself by name during the 911 call.

At that point, Detective Geiger left petitioner alone, uncuffed, in the unlocked squad room. The detective returned between 6:30 p.m. and 6:45 p.m. and subsequently gave petitioner coffee and food. Detective Geiger testified that petitioner was not yet a suspect, but that he was becoming a suspect. Detective Geiger, knowing that petitioner had lied about making the 911 call, continued to question him and asked whether he had fought with Minicz. Sometime before 8:00 p.m., petitioner admitted that he and Minicz fought on June 4, 1994.

At approximately 8:00 p.m., Detective Geiger again left the squad room to question James, who claimed that petitioner struck Minicz with a "two-by-four." Detective Geiger returned to the squad room and, without informing petitioner of his Miranda rights, asked petitioner about "what happened Sunday morning." Petitioner said that he left the construction site that morning to go to his sister's house to take a shower and change his clothes. Petitioner also said that he had been wearing a blue shirt and gave the detectives permission to retrieve it from his sister's house. Detective Douglas Hopkins went to the house, and petitioner's sister gave him a flowered print shirt with blood stains on it. Detective Hopkins then returned to the police station and asked petitioner about the blood-stained shirt. Petitioner admitted that it was the same shirt he wore when he fought with Minicz.

The detectives administered Miranda warnings and petitioner subsequently made a statement at approximately 9:15 p.m. Petitioner stated that he, along with Minicz and James, went to the construction site between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. on June 4, 1994. Petitioner said that he and Minicz subsequently got into an argument, during which Minicz punched him in the stomach. Petitioner admitted that he then hit Minicz about the face and body with a piece of wood that was two to three inches wide. Petitioner also said that he punched Minicz. Petitioner said that he and James then "pushed" Minicz down to the basement of the abandoned building and went to sleep. Petitioner admitted that he placed the 911 call the next morning.

The detectives reduced petitioner's statement to writing, which he signed. 1

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The detectives again advised petitioner of his Miranda rights, and he gave another statement at 2:00 a.m., which was videotaped. Petitioner admitted in the video that he hit Minicz with a stick and then punched and kicked him. At no time during the interview was petitioner handcuffed or did he ask to leave.

When petitioner arrived at the police station, he had been wearing a pair of blue pants that had a dark stain on them. Detective Geiger testified that he was not sure whether the stain was blood, so he sent petitioner's pants to the lab for analysis. The record is unclear whether petitioner voluntarily surrendered his pants or the detectives ordered him to remove them, and exactly when petitioner removed his pants. The district court concluded only that petitioner removed his pants prior to his final statement, because the video showed him wearing a different pair of pants.

After his indictment, petitioner moved to suppress his statements, arguing that the detectives conducted a custodial interrogation without initially advising him of his Miranda rights. Following a suppression hearing, the trial court denied the motion while making detailed findings of fact and conclusions of law. The trial court found that petitioner and James voluntarily accompanied the officers to the police station. Specifically, the trial court found that Detective Geiger "invited" the two men "to go to the 63rd Precinct" and that the men were not placed in handcuffs. The trial court also gave "full credence" to the testimony of Detectives Geiger and Hopkins. Detective Geiger testified at the suppression hearing that he asked petitioner and James whether they would accompany the officers without indicating that they were required to do so. However, Detective Geiger also testified on direct examination that the officers "went to the scene and ... told [petitioner that they were] going to take him to the precinct regarding Krzystof Minicz, and ... put him in the car and drove him back to the precinct." Detective Geiger also testified that since petitioner fit the description of the individual the officers sought, "[they] just took him." It is undisputed that the detectives never informed petitioner that he was not required by law to accompany them to the police station.

The trial court found that although Petitioner had been drinking when the officers initially approached him, he "seemed to understand what was going on." Specifically, the court found that "it appeared that [petitioner] had a tolerance for his drinking, which is very possible from all the drinking he had been doing over the years...." The court also found that petitioner "was able to answer where his sister lived, he was able to state where his clothing was, that he left the clothing in the house, [and] he was able to discuss the set up of the building." The trial court concluded that "although he may have had beers and drank rum that day, when he was questioned he was not in such a state of intoxication that he could not understand what he was doing."

Petitioner went to trial, and on March 2, 1995, the jury convicted him of Murder in the Second Degree. The court sentenced petitioner to twenty years to life imprisonment. Petitioner appealed his conviction based upon the trial court's denial of his motion to suppress, and the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department ("Appellate Division") affirmed the ruling...

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