616 S.W.2d 839 (Mo. 1981), 61661, State v. Baskerville

Docket Nº:61661.
Citation:616 S.W.2d 839
Party Name:STATE of Missouri, Respondent, v. Ricky L. BASKERVILLE, Appellant.
Case Date:June 08, 1981
Court:Supreme Court of Missouri

Page 839

616 S.W.2d 839 (Mo. 1981)

STATE of Missouri, Respondent,


Ricky L. BASKERVILLE, Appellant.

No. 61661.

Supreme Court of Missouri.

June 8, 1981

Page 840

Lee M. Nation, Kansas City, for appellant.

John Ashcroft, Atty. Gen., Kristie Green, Asst. Atty. Gen., Jefferson City, for respondent.

Page 841

STOCKARD, Commissioner.

Ricky L. Baskerville was charged by information in lieu of indictment in three counts with the capital murders by shooting of Vicki Kanion, James Harris, and Ernest Booker. He was found guilty by a jury of the murder charged in each count and the jury imposed a sentence of life imprisonment as to Count I (Vicki Kanion) and Count II (James Harris), but were unable to agree on the punishment as to Count III (Ernest Booker), and the punishment as to that count was fixed by the court at life imprisonment.

On this appeal appellant does not challenge the sufficiency of the evidence as to any of the counts. It is sufficient to state that the jury reasonably could find from the evidence that at 4522 Cypress Street in Kansas City, Missouri, on November 18, 1978 appellant killed James Harris by shooting him, and that he also shot and killed Vicki Kanion, the sister of James Harris. He then shot and killed Ernest Booker, the small child of Vicki Kanion who apparently was attempting to hide under a table.

By his first point appellant asserts the trial court erred in admitting into evidence "statements obtained" from him "during the November 20, 1978 and November 21, 1978 police interrogations" because (a) "Miranda warnings were not given * * * until after potentially incriminating statements were obtained, despite the fact that the interrogation was custodial in nature," and (b) statements made after the Miranda warnings were given which pertained to and resulted from evidence which earlier was wrongfully obtained.

The police conducted an investigation of the murders, and in doing so searched the area for physical evidence. They also talked to neighbors but did not locate any potential witnesses. On November 20 Officer Singleton was contacted by Michael Watson who stated that he had heard the police wanted to talk to him, and he arranged to meet Officer Singleton. Watson then related to Officer Singleton that he had "a good idea who had killed the people in (the Harris) house," and he stated that he believed the killer was "a Negro male six foot two, thin build, dark complexion, who wore a full-length black leather jacket with the first name of Ricky, (and) who was an amateur boxer." He also stated that on November 15, which was three days before the homicides, "two Negro males, one being (the person referred to as Ricky) and the other * * * described as a light complected Negro male, were at the victim's house at the time he (Watson) was at the house." At that time Officer Singleton knew the victims had been shot with a .22 caliber weapon, and Watson said that the party with the person he knew as Ricky had a .22 caliber automatic with him, but that the party stated he was carrying the pistol for Ricky. When Officer Singleton and Watson arrived at the police station some photographs were shown to Watson, and he identified a photograph of appellant as the person he knew as Ricky. Officer Singleton had previously spoken to appellant concerning an unrelated case, and at that time appellant was wearing a long black leather jacket and indicated that he was involved in the Golden Gloves boxing program.

Officer Williams interviewed three persons, and from one of them, Michele Jackson, he received the information that her brother, Todd Jackson, had told her that appellant had been at his home on the evening of November 18, 1978, and had stated that he had committed the homicides. Elfonso Brown verified what Michele Jackson had told the officer.

Officer Patrick Stark was assigned to investigate the murders. On November 19 he searched the area for physical evidence and talked to several people in the area. On the morning of November 20 appellant was at Police Headquarters "for questioning on another offense" and to take a polygraph test. The record does not disclose whether or not he had voluntarily gone to the station.

After a briefing on the morning of November 20, Officer Stark was assigned to interview appellant. He started to question appellant at 11:30 o'clock, and at that time the only information Officer Stark had of

Page 842

appellant's possible involvement in the homicides was that appellant "may (have known) James Harris or had been * * * to Harris' house." He was not then aware of the information that had been obtained by Officer Singleton and Williams.

Appellant filed a motion to suppress any statement made by him to Officer Stark at this interrogation because he (a) "was not advised of his right to remain silent and his right to presence of counsel until after several hours of interrogation by Detective Stark, and after statements had been made (by him) regarding this cause," and (b) the interrogation occurred "after investigative officers * * * had collectively received sufficient information to establish probable cause" for appellant's arrest. The trial court conducted a pre-trial hearing on this motion.

Appellant does not set forth in his point or in the argument portion of his brief what "potentially incriminating statements" were obtained from him prior to the giving of Miranda warnings, and particularly important in the circumstances of this case is the fact that appellant did not contend in his motion to suppress and he does not contend on this appeal that any statement was involuntarily made by him, or that he wanted but was denied the right to have counsel present. In fact, after some interrogation by Officer Stark, the information previously related was received from Officer Singleton and Officer Williams, and it was that information which caused Officer Stark to place appellant under arrest and advise him of his Miranda rights. Immediately thereafter appellant signed a written waiver of those rights and the interrogation then continued.

Notwithstanding the deficiency of the point and its presentation, because of the seriousness of the offenses charged and in a liberal exercise of judicial discretion, we have read and carefully studied the evidence presented at the pretrial hearing in support of the motion to suppress.

It is extremely difficult to determine from the testimony at the pretrial hearing what statements were made by appellant to Officer Stark before the Miranda warnings were given. Questions were asked of the officer concerning his investigation and what he had learned. He stated that he talked with appellant on the second floor of the Police Headquarters, and that he "questioned him as to his knowledge (of) or association with any of the victims," and according to Officer Stark, appellant "volunteered that information * * * that he had been present on * * * the day that the victims were found." He then questioned appellant "regarding his presence at or near the scene," and he asked "(w)hat atmosphere was at the house, who else was present, and general questions as to * * * Mr. Harris' associates." He did not relate appellant's answers. In the course of the interrogation appellant stated that he had gone home after leaving the Harris residence on November 20 at approximately 3:30 o'clock. It appears that later, but we cannot tell if it was before or after the Miranda warnings, appellant stated that he had not gone straight home but had gone to Todd Jackson's house. It was during this time that Officer Stark was advised by Officer Singleton that appellant "had been to Mr. Harris' residence two days, or the Wednesday prior to the homicide," and he also received information that appellant "or someone with him had a .22 caliber gun in their possession on the...

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