836 F.2d 406 (8th Cir. 1987), 86-2451, Winfrey v. Wyrick

Docket Nº:86-2451.
Citation:836 F.2d 406
Party Name:Robert Steven WINFREY, Appellee, v. Donald WYRICK, Warden, Missouri State Penitentiary; and State of Iowa, Appellants.
Case Date:December 30, 1987
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

Page 406

836 F.2d 406 (8th Cir. 1987)

Robert Steven WINFREY, Appellee,


Donald WYRICK, Warden, Missouri State Penitentiary; and

State of Iowa, Appellants.

No. 86-2451.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

December 30, 1987

Submitted June 10, 1987.

Rehearing and Rehearing En Banc Denied Feb. 17, 1988.

Thomas D. McGrane, Asst. Atty. Gen., Des Moines, Iowa, for appellants.

Gary B. Garrison, Des Moines, Iowa, for appellee.

Page 407

Before McMILLIAN and JOHN R. GIBSON, Circuit Judges, and ROSENN, [*] Senior Circuit Judge.

JOHN R. GIBSON, Circuit Judge.

Robert Winfrey was convicted of murder in Iowa state court. At his trial the state introduced confessions Winfrey made to two police officers. Winfrey moved to suppress the statements on the grounds that he made them involuntarily, but the state court denied his motion. Winfrey filed a habeas corpus petition under 28 U.S.C. Sec. 2254 (1982), renewing his assertions that the confessions were involuntary. The district court agreed with Winfrey and granted his petition. Winfrey's custodian and the State of Iowa brought this appeal, which requires us to determine, first, what facts must be deemed to have been found by the state and district courts, respectively; and second, whether on the basis of these facts, Winfrey's confession was involuntary as a matter of law. We reverse.

Winfrey was arrested on April 6, 1972 in connection with a killing that occurred in Des Moines in March, 1972. While Winfrey was in jail, lawyers visited him on two occasions. Each lawyer told him not to talk with anyone about his case, and the second lawyer told him that if he did discuss the case with anyone, anything he said could be used against him.

On Saturday April 8, Winfrey began talking with one of his jailers, Alfred Baumann. Baumann and Winfrey had become acquainted during earlier occasions when Winfrey had been in jail. Baumann and Winfrey talked for about an hour and a half about topics other than Winfrey's case. Baumann told Winfrey that if he wanted to talk more to let him know.

The facts are disputed as to whether it was Baumann or Winfrey who initiated a conversation that occurred the next day, but the talk turned to the facts of Winfrey's case. At that point, Baumann advised Winfrey of his Miranda 1 rights and asked whether Winfrey wanted his mother or lawyer to be present before the discussion went any further. Winfrey rejected the idea of having his mother or attorney present, saying he had lied to his mother and his lawyer and therefore he did not want them to be there for the discussion. Winfrey asked to see his co-defendant, who was brought in to see him. Winfrey then confessed to Baumann that Winfrey had shot the victim while attempting to rob a service station.

Baumann called Police Officer Steiner and asked him to come over to talk to Winfrey. Steiner refused to talk to Winfrey unless Winfrey personally requested him to; Winfrey then talked to Steiner on the telephone and asked him to come to the jail to talk to him.

Steiner arrived and advised Winfrey and his co-defendant of their Miranda rights. Winfrey and the co-defendant agreed to talk, but refused to sign anything or to allow Steiner to tape-record the conversation. Winfrey then made the same confession to Steiner as he had made to Baumann.

In the state murder case, Winfrey moved to suppress Baumann and Steiner's testimony about the confessions on the grounds that the statements were involuntary. The court conducted a full hearing at which Winfrey testified that he had had numerous experiences with the criminal justice system and had been to reform school four different times; that Officer Baumann had done him favors before the 1972 encounter and that Winfrey had trusted Baumann; that Baumann initiated the April 9 conversation; that Baumann and Steiner persuaded Winfrey to talk by telling him they could get him off on manslaughter; that Baumann told Winfrey their conversation would be confidential; that Baumann did not advise Winfrey of his rights; and that Baumann and Steiner told Winfrey as long as he did not give a written statement, his words could not be used against him.

Page 408

On the other hand, Baumann and Steiner testified that Winfrey initiated the April 9 conversations; that each advised him of his Miranda rights before allowing him to make any incriminating statements and that Winfrey indicated he understood his rights; that Steiner told Winfrey that Steiner and Baumann would have to testify in court as to Winfrey's statements; and that they told him he was charged with murder and declined to offer an opinion on whether the charge would be reduced if the killing were accidental.

Further, a psychiatrist, Dr. Loeffelholz, testified that he had examined Winfrey and that Winfrey was in the "dull normal" range of intelligence, with an IQ of 85 to 90, whereas the normal range was 90 to 105. Loeffelholz also testified that though Winfrey was 18 at the time of the examination, his mental age was about 14 or 15 and that Winfrey was at the 5th or 6th grade level of academic achievement. Loeffelholz was questioned at length about Winfrey's ability to understand and knowingly waive his Miranda rights. In response to defense counsel's hypothetical question, Loeffelholz indicated that it was doubtful Winfrey would have understood the full consequences of waiving his rights. He also said initially that Winfrey "apparently believed" that "as long as he didn't sign something, it wouldn't be used." However, upon more specific questioning, Loeffelholz clarified that Winfrey was able to understand the fact that his statements could be used against him in court; Loeffelholz's reservation was with regard to whether Winfrey understood the "extent and the full consequences of the results" of waiving his rights, apparently referring to considerations of strategy and punishment. 2 Loeffelholz answered the trial court's questioning:


Q: There was some mention along the line that possibly the defendant didn't understand that the statement could be used...

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