944 F.2d 284 (6th Cir. 1991), 90-2289, Williams v. Withrow

Docket Nº:90-2289.
Citation:944 F.2d 284
Party Name:Robert Allen WILLIAMS, Jr., Petitioner-Appellee, v. Pamela WITHROW, Respondent-Appellant.
Case Date:September 11, 1991
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

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944 F.2d 284 (6th Cir. 1991)

Robert Allen WILLIAMS, Jr., Petitioner-Appellee,


Pamela WITHROW, Respondent-Appellant.

No. 90-2289.

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

September 11, 1991

Argued May 16, 1991.

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Daniel P. O'Neil, Traverse City, Mich. (argued and briefed), for petitioner-appellee.

Robert Allen Williams, pro se.

Timothy A. Baughman, John D. O'Hair, Pros. Atty., Jeffrey W. Caminsky (argued and briefed), Detroit, Mich., Becky M. Lamiman, Asst. Atty. Gen., Suzanne L. Wilhelm, Office of Atty. Gen., Habeas Div., Lansing, Mich., for respondent-appellant.

Before JONES and RYAN, Circuit Judges, and PECK, Senior Circuit Judge.

NATHANIEL R. JONES, Circuit Judge.

Appellant Pamela Withrow, the warden of the Michigan Reformatory, appeals from an order of the district court granting the habeas corpus petition of Robert Allen Williams, Jr. As we discern no error in the

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district court's grant of Williams' habeas corpus petition, we affirm.


On April 6, 1985, police officers in Romulus, Michigan discovered two males shot to death in a parked car. Responding to a rumor, Detective Sgt. David Early of the Romulus Police Department went to Williams' house to question him on April 10, 1985. At the house, Williams was searched but not handcuffed, and was asked to accompany Sgt. Early to the police station. When Williams arrived at the police station, he was questioned by Sgt. Early and his partner, Sgt. Ondejko. Williams was not given Miranda warnings before this first round of questioning. After Williams denied having any information about the murders, Early told Williams that "the main thing on this is we want the shooter. We're not real interested in who was there or who was along for the ride or anything else. We get the shooter on this and we're gonna pretty well be content." Williams continued to deny being present at the scene, prompting Early to state:

You know everything that went down. You just don't want to talk about it. What it's gonna amount to is you can talk about it now and give us the truth and we're gonna check it out and see if it fits or else we're simply gonna charge you and lock you up and you can just tell it to a defense attorney and let him try and prove differently. We're not playing. We've been chasing around on this too fuckin' long.

Sgt. Early then gave Williams the choice of answering his questions or being formally charged. Sgt. Early also told Williams that he had "big problems", that the police were close to issuing an arrest warrant for him, and that the police knew of witnesses who would testify against Williams. At this point, Williams admitted that he had provided the murder weapon because he wanted to sell the gun, and that the murderer had called him after the crime and told him he had discarded the gun and his clothes in the river. Questioning continued, with the police again insisting that they were only interested in finding the shooter. Williams again denied being present at the scene of the crime. Sgt. Early later testified that the April 10 interrogation proceeded for "approximately 35 to 40 minutes" before Williams was read his Miranda rights. Williams was questioned a second time on April 10, 1985, and again on April 12. Miranda warnings were given prior to the second session on April 10, and before the April 12 session, and Williams indicated his understanding of his rights.

At the second interrogation on April 10, the following exchange took place between Williams, Sgt. Early, and Sgt. Ondejko:

Ondejko: Do you wish to change your story?

Williams: What difference is it going to make?

Ondejko: It's gonna make a lot of difference to you.

Early: I told you. If you told the truth ...

Williams: I've been telling you the truth.

Early: Oh, you've been making up fairy tales ever since you've been in here. You're giving us, like he says, parts of the truth, parts of what you want us to believe, and part of what really happened.

Williams: If I tell you everything that happened, I'm gonna walk outta here, huh?

Ondejko: Someday you may stand a chance of walking.

Early: I'll make you a deal. You tell us everything that happened and you tell us the truth and I confirm it on a polygraph that you're telling us the truth. Yeah, you walk.

Following this exchange, Williams admitted driving Mark Sennett, identified as the shooter, to the scene of the murders following behind the victims' car. He also admitted that he turned his car around at the request of Sennett, that he heard shots and muzzle flashes, and that he drove Sennett away from the scene and helped dispose of Sennett's clothing and the murder weapon. Williams denied knowing that Sennett was going to kill the two victims.

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Officer Early then elaborated on the deal with Williams:

Early: You're worried now about us turning this around on you and charging you too. We've said that basically we want you as a witness. Right?

Williams: Yes.

Early: Alright, I'm gonna tell you right now, at the start of the recording, if we use this recording against you, it's got to be in its entirety. We can't edit it or cut it. We told you if you are a witness to this and if you are telling the truth, and if you are willing to testify, then we are not going to charge you as a co-defendant. That's what we told you, right?

Williams: Yes.

Early: Alright. We're still gonna go by that agreement. And I don't. [Abrupt stop.] You've been around, but if, whether you're up on the law, if a police officer makes an agreement like that it's got to be honored. You can go to court and say we made that agreement and we backed down on it and we can't present these tapes and use anything else we've got. So it's an agreement...

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