682 F.2d 168 (8th Cir. 1982), 81-2425, United States v. Eagle Elk

Docket Nº:81-2425.
Citation:682 F.2d 168
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Appellee, v. Robert Eagle ELK, Jr., a/k/a Bobby Bear, Appellant.
Case Date:June 30, 1982
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

Page 168

682 F.2d 168 (8th Cir. 1982)

UNITED STATES of America, Appellee,


Robert Eagle ELK, Jr., a/k/a Bobby Bear, Appellant.

No. 81-2425.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

June 30, 1982

Submitted May 20, 1982.

Philip N. Hogen, U. S. Atty., D. S. D., Sioux Falls, S. D., Ted L. McBride, Asst. U. S. Atty., Rapid City, S. D., for appellee.

Gary D. Jensen, Lynn, Jackson, Shultz & Lebrun, P.C., Rapid City, S. D., for appellant.

Before ROSS, McMILLIAN and GIBSON, Circuit Judges.


On May 21, 1981, the appellant, Robert Eagle Elk, Jr. was indicted for voluntary manslaughter under 18 U.S.C. §§ 1153 and 1112 (1976). On November 26, 1981, a jury returned a verdict of guilty on the lesser included offense of involuntary manslaughter, and the district court 1 entered judgment on December 11, 1981. Of the several trial court errors upon which Eagle Elk grounds this appeal only his assertion that the trial court erred in failing to suppress a statement that he made to a federal investigator following a polygraph examination concerns us on appeal. For the reasons set forth herein, we reverse.

Only a brief outline of the facts is necessary for purposes of this decision. Eagle Elk's conviction stemmed from the beating death of Richard Schreiner on April 25, 1981. Eagle Elk, Schreiner, and another individual, Anthony Jacobs, were traveling together on the evening of April 25, 1981, in Eagle Elk's automobile. Schreiner was carrying a rifle. Apparently, an argument broke out between Schreiner and Eagle Elk. According to Eagle Elk, Schreiner poked him in the side with the rifle, and Eagle Elk stopped the automobile. Schreiner jumped

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out of the car and while threatening Eagle Elk, cocked, aimed and pulled the trigger on the rifle. When the rifle failed to fire, Eagle Elk grabbed the rifle from Schreiner and struck him in the face with a fist. Schreiner then took out a pistol and cocked the pistol while again threatening Eagle Elk. Eagle Elk struck Schreiner on the left side of the neck with the butt of the rifle. The blow knocked Schreiner to the ground. At this point, he set the rifle next to the passenger side of the automobile and took cover.

Eagle Elk testified at trial that Jacobs became involved in the affray when, as Jacobs was attempting to get out of the back seat of the car, Schreiner pushed the car door and pinned Jacobs' legs between the car door and the car. A fight between Jacobs and Schreiner then ensued in which Jacobs, brandishing a knife, slashed at Schreiner. According to Eagle Elk, Jacobs then grabbed the rifle laying against the car and struck Schreiner in the head with the rifle, knocking him to the ground. Jacobs then smashed the rifle butt over Schreiner's head again with sufficient force to break the stock of the rifle into two pieces.

Anthony Jacobs denied that he participated in any way in the altercation. According to Jacobs, it was Eagle Elk who, after striking Schreiner in the face with his fist and knocking him to the ground, struck Schreiner in the head a total of four times with the butt of the gun.

After his arrest, 2 Eagle Elk, upon the advice of counsel, volunteered to undergo a polygraph examination on July 23, 1981. Eagle Elk's counsel was not present while the examination was being conducted. The examination was conducted by a Federal Bureau of Investigation officer, Agent Diem. Prior to being given the polygraph, Eagle Elk was advised by Agent Diem of his Miranda rights, signed a form stating that he understood those rights, and signed a polygraph interview consent form. The examination was conducted outside the presence of Eagle Elk's counsel. According to Eagle Elk, after the polygraph examination was completed, Agent Diem advised him that he was not telling the truth, and continued the interrogation. The government admitted that appellant was not given an additional Miranda warning after the polygraph examination but prior to this interrogation. During this interrogation Eagle Elk made an incriminating statement to the effect that he had struck Schreiner twice in the head with the rifle. According to Eagle Elk he requested to see his attorney prior to making this incriminating statement. However, Agent Diem testified at a suppression hearing held October 13, 1981, that Eagle Elk had not requested to see his attorney until after the incriminating statement had been made.

Eagle Elk argues that under Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U.S. 477, 101 S.Ct. 1880, 68 L.Ed.2d 378 (1981), his incriminating statement allegedly made after requesting to see his counsel should have been suppressed. In Edwards the Supreme Court held that interrogation must cease when an accused requests counsel, and that an accused is not subject to further interrogation unless he initiates further conversation with the police. Id. at 484-85, 101 S.Ct. at 1884-85. We do not believe Edwards controls the instant case in that at the suppression hearing the trial court accepted Agent Diem's testimony that Eagle Elk did not request an attorney until after he had made the incriminating statement. Such findings of fact by the trial court in...

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