706 F.2d 908 (9th Cir. 1983), 82-1185, United States v. Manuel

Docket Nº:82-1185.
Citation:706 F.2d 908
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Harlen MANUEL, Defendant-Appellant.
Case Date:April 29, 1983
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

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706 F.2d 908 (9th Cir. 1983)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,


Harlen MANUEL, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 82-1185.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

April 29, 1983

Argued Sept. 3, 1982.

Submitted Sept. 29, 1982.

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Francisco Leon, Asst. Federal Public Defender, Tucson, Ariz., for defendant-appellant.

Roslyn O. Moore, Asst. U.S. Atty., Phoenix, Ariz., for plaintiff-appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Arizona.

Before KILKENNY, FLETCHER, and BOOCHEVER, Circuit Judges.

FLETCHER, Circuit Judge:

Harlen Manuel appeals from a conviction for second-degree murder resulting from a brutal killing on an Indian reservation. The damaging evidence against him was the detailed confession he gave five days after the killing. Manuel contends that this confession should have been suppressed because obtained in violation of the fourth amendment, and also because obtained in violation of the rule of Mallory v. United States, 354 U.S. 449, 77 S.Ct. 1356, 1 L.Ed.2d 1479 (1957). Manuel further contends that his statutory right to a speedy indictment was denied, and that the trial judge improperly refused to instruct the jury on involuntary manslaughter. We affirm the conviction.


On August 3, 1981, the body of Terrell Howard was found in a ditch on the Salt River Indian Reservation. An autopsy revealed

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that Howard had been badly beaten about the head and had died of a severe skull fracture. Earlier on August 3, F.B.I. agent Glenford Lewis had gone to the home of Jefferson Howard, Terrell Howard's uncle, to investigate an incident in which Jefferson had stabbed Harlen Manuel with an ice pick. Jefferson Howard told Lewis that he had stabbed Manuel after Manuel told him that he had killed Terrell Howard. The F.B.I. agents shared this information with the Salt River Tribal Police, who were also investigating the slaying of Terrell Howard.

The next day, F.B.I. agent Leon Fish and tribal police investigator Chester Mack traveled to Harlen Manuel's home, the residence of Manuel's grandparents, where Harlen Manuel lived, in search of further evidence. The sequence of the events that followed is disputed. The defendant contends that Mack radioed an order to arrest Manuel and the other suspects 1 as soon as he arrived at the Manuel residence and learned that the suspects were in another house. The Government, however, claims that Mack and Fish first interviewed Lorenzo Manuel, a nine year old boy, and Phyllis King, his sixteen year old sister, 2 both residents of the Manuel household. These two gave detailed accounts of the killing. They related that they had seen Harlen Manuel and Terrell Howard fighting on the night of July 31, 1981. While these two were fighting, Celestine Nelson picked up a two-by-four board and struck Howard over the head several times. Howard immediately fell to the ground, unconscious. Both Lorenzo Manuel and King said they saw the appellant and Nelson drag Howard away. Later, they saw Nelson and a third man, Londo Burns, carting Howard away in a wheelbarrow.

Officers Fish and Mack also spoke with Craig Nelson, another resident of the Manuel home, who told them that Harlen Manuel had admitted dropping a tree stump on Howard. Nelson showed the officers the tree stump in question, which was in the Manuel yard. The officers also found other bloodstained evidence on the scene that corroborated the accounts they had heard, including a bloodstained wheelbarrow and blood-soaked soil near the tree stump. The officers were also shown the two-by-four board that the witnesses said was used to beat Howard over the head.

At this point, Officer Mack received a radio report that tribal police had located the three suspects at the residence of Ernestine Collins, a neighbor, and that they were all heavily intoxicated. Tribal police took the three to the police station. Agent Fish and Officer Mack decided not to interview the suspects while they were drunk; rather, they elected to wait until the following day. The suspects were given meals and were allowed to sleep until the next morning.

Shortly after 8:00 a.m. on August 5, Fish questioned Manuel at the station after carefully instructing him concerning his Miranda rights. Manuel immediately confessed in detail his role in the killing. He told Fish that he had knocked Howard unconscious with a board and that he later dropped a heavy stump on Howard, killing him.

Following this interview, the United States Attorney's Office authorized prosecution for Manuel, but did not authorize his arrest. The Salt River Tribe declined to press charges against Manuel due to the likelihood of federal prosecution. Consequently, Manuel was released. On November 25, 1981, nearly four months later, Manuel was indicted and charged with second degree murder. Prior to trial, Manuel moved to suppress evidence of his confession; the motion was denied. On February 26, 1982, following a three-day trial, a jury found Manuel guilty of second degree murder. From this conviction, Manuel now appeals.

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  1. Admissibility of Manuel's Confession.

    1. Fourth Amendment Challenge.

    The appellant contends that his arrest on August 4 was illegal because it was ordered by tribal police before they had probable cause to believe that he had participated in the Howard slaying. The record does not allow us to determine whether this claim has merit, because the district court did not make the necessary factual findings following the evidentiary hearing on the issue. 3 On the morning of August 4, when the arrest took place, tribal police may or may not have had sufficient cause to arrest Manuel. The police at that time knew only the place where the body was found, the results of the autopsy, and the substance of a hearsay statement by the decedent's uncle that Manuel had admitted his involvement. We do not know whether this evidence alone gave the officers probable cause to arrest the appellant. This determination turns on whether they had sufficient knowledge that Jefferson Howard was credible and that the information he provided was reliable. 4 See United States v. Huberts, 637 F.2d 630, 635 (9th Cir.1980) (citing Spinelli v. United States, 393 U.S. 410, 89 S.Ct. 584, 21 L.Ed.2d 637 (1969) and Aguilar v. Texas, 378 U.S. 108, 84 S.Ct. 1509, 12 L.Ed.2d 723 (1964)), cert. denied, 451 U.S. 975, 101 S.Ct. 2058, 68 L.Ed.2d 356 (1981). The district court made no findings concerning this issue, nor did it decide when the order to arrest the appellant was given. If the tribal police did not have probable cause to arrest the appellant upon their arrival at the Manuel residence, and if tribal officer Mack ordered appellant's arrest immediately upon arrival, before he accumulated any more information, then Manuel's arrest was illegal.

    However, we need not remand for a determination whether probable cause to arrest Manuel existed upon the officers' arrival, or whether Manuel's arrest was ordered immediately. Shortly after their arrival, the police accumulated more than enough evidence to justify the appellant's arrest and detention. It is unnecessary to repeat in detail the evidence that the officers found; most important were the statements of two separate eyewitnesses that they had seen Manuel helping to batter the victim into unconsciousness. Because of the overwhelming evidence of Manuel's involvement gathered independently on August 4, Manuel's confession given the next day was admissible even if his initial arrest was illegal.

    This case is distinguishable from Brown v. Illinois, 422 U.S. 590, 95 S.Ct. 2254, 45

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    L.Ed.2d 416 (1975) and Dunaway v. New York, 442 U.S. 200, 99 S.Ct. 2248, 60 L.Ed.2d 824 (1979). In each of those cases, the defendant was arrested without probable cause, given his Miranda warnings, and immediately questioned concerning the crime under investigation, with a confession resulting. Dunaway, 442 U.S. at 203, 99 S.Ct. at 2251-52; Brown, 422 U.S. at 591, 593-94, 95 S.Ct. at 2256-57. The Supreme Court in each case ruled that the subsequent Miranda warnings did not prevent the confession from...

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