Brewer v. State

Decision Date22 May 1980
Docket NumberNo. 54578,54578
PartiesPatrick Anthony BREWER, Appellant, v. STATE of Florida, Appellee.
CourtFlorida Supreme Court

Margaret Good, Asst. Public Defender, Tallahassee, for appellant.

Jim Smith, Atty. Gen., and Wallace E. Allbritton, Asst. Atty. Gen., Tallahassee, for appellee.


This is an appeal from a judgment of the Circuit Court of the Fourth Judicial Circuit, in and for Clay County, in which the court adjudicated the appellant guilty of murder in the first degree and followed the jury recommendation in sentencing him to death. We have jurisdiction. Art. V, § 3(b)(1), Fla.Const.

On February 15, 1978, at approximately 7:30 A.M., the body of Mrs. Tsuyako Thomas was discovered on the floor behind the counter in her restaurant. She had been stabbed to death. A knife later identified as belonging to the appellant was found underneath the body. The appellant's cap was also found at the scene. Shoe track impressions taken from an area to the rear of the restaurant showed similarity to the appellant's boots. Traces of blood found on the appellant's boots were of the same blood type as the victim.

On February 18, 1978, police officers arrested the appellant. They advised him of his rights in the standard fashion. The appellant told them that he was present at and witnessed the stabbing and that he knew the attacker but only by first name. He said that he struggled with the assailant briefly, then fled the scene in fear.

After further interrogation, the appellant made statements of an incriminating nature. The interrogation and the statements were tape-recorded. Later that day he was taken before a county court judge for first appearance. The judge advised the appellant of his rights to remain silent and to have an attorney present during questioning. Subsequent to the appearance before the judge, the appellant signed a written confession.

Before trial, the appellant moved to suppress both his initial oral incriminating statements and his written confession. At a hearing on the motions, the court heard the tape of appellant's interrogation.

THIRD VOICE: What time did you leave? Now someone took you to Bellair in a pickup truck. I know that for sure. I don't know where you went to in Bellair and Allen and I have followed you every footstep from the time you were supposed to be at the Jiffy Store that night and the time you left your trailer until you went to the Jiffy Store, 'til you went to Lou's and back to your trailer, and from your trailer to Bellair, and to the people you talked to in Bellair, and all about it. And, it's looking dim for you, boy. I'm not kidding you.

FIRST VOICE: If you get convicted of first degree murder, now it's the damn electric chair or life. Now that's the way that's what it amounts to. But, if you you know, if you committed second degree murder, it's what? Five? What? Twenty? Twenty years to life and you're eligible for parole at five or seven, see? That's second degree. That's what you did. I know that's what you did. That's what you did. Second degree murder. But, if we put all this evidence we got before a jury, you are liable to get convicted of first degree murder. Look, we know you were you were in the area. We know you went to the restaurant. Your knife was found under that woman. Your knife, that's been identified as your knife, it's even got your name on it. How is a jury SECOND VOICE: Engraved on it.

FIRST VOICE: Engraved on it. How is a jury how is a jury going now, you think of 12 people that don't know a damn thing about the law sitting back there listening to this, see? They don't know as much about the law as me or Alred or maybe not as much as you; but, they are sitting there listening. All right. Here here he was. His knife was under the woman. We've got your boots that's got blood all over them. All over them. Even where they were polished. We are going to present that to the jury. We are going to let them look at it. We've got casts, photographs of where your heel impression went into the dirt. We know they're your boots; they've been identified as your boots, right?


FIRST VOICE: Not the ones you were wearing when you were in here, when you were brought in here this afternoon. We are talking about some other boots. You know what I'm talking about, don't you?


FIRST VOICE: Those are your boots, aren't they?


FIRST VOICE: You were wearing them that night, weren't you?


FIRST VOICE: And why did you lie to us and tell us that you had them others on? It ain't going to do you any good to lie, Pat. If you done it, tell us, and tell us right now, and we'll help you out on this thing. They are going to come to us and they are going to say, "Did you cooperate?" We are going to say, "yes, he did. He's sorry for what he done. We believe he can be rehabilitated." That's what we will tell the parole people when the (sic) come to us. If you hang back and try to lie to us, we are going to say, "yes, he lied to us. He hasn't admitted it. We had to go to a jury trial. The jury found him guilty. They sent him away for life." And that's the way it will be. You will be there the rest of your damn life. Hell, tell us about it. We put a guy in jail, just like you, just about the same age, for the same thing not one month ago. Now, he was on drugs too. Hell, you're sorry for what you've done. I know you are. Tell us about it. Get it off your conscience. We'll help you out. I'm serious. Won't we, Alred? I tell you, a damn jury is going to convict you, Pat. We got all kinds of evidence on you. Even if what you told us is true, a jury will still convict you of first degree murder. You've got 12 people sitting back there and they've read about all this stuff in the papers and, man, these people will just string you by the nape of your neck right now if they get their hands on you. Hell, we know you done it. You know you done it. We can prove it in court. Admit it. Say you're sorry. Try and get off light. That's your only recourse.

SECOND VOICE: Yeah, but that ain't the only thing you can do is say you're sorry.

FIRST VOICE: Why ain't it?

SECOND VOICE: 'Cause that don't bring back someone's life.

FIRST VOICE: You are sorry you done it, though, ain't you?

SECOND VOICE: I ain't saying I done it.

FIRST VOICE: Well, I know you ain't saying you done it; but, see, I know you did it. Alred knows you did it. Jennings Murrhee knows you did it. Isn't that right? Hell, it ain't the worst thing in the world. We do this stuff all the time; this is our business. This is our business. And I guarantee you when we go to court, if we go to a trial on this thing, buddy, they are going to find you guilty. I'll swear they are. They will find you guilty and they will send you away for the rest of your life if they don't put you in the electric chair. Where you go ahead and cooperate and tell us you've done this thing and tell us how you done it, tell us where that billfold is, tell us where the billfold is, we'll help you out on this thing. We'll get you'll get out of this thing on second degree murder. But we got you. We got you locked up in this thing. And that's the truth. You ain't but 19 years old.


FIRST VOICE: Eighteen years old. You'll be out on the streets when you're 30, or less than that, but you won't if we go to a trial and you're convicted of first degree murder. You can count on that.

THIRD VOICE: Why don't you just go ahead and straighten up and tell us?

FIRST VOICE: Do you want to tell us about it? Tell us about it. Cooperate with us. We'll help you out. You've known me all your life. You know I ain't no liar and I don't put stuff on people they don't deserve. I'll tell the parole and probation people you cooperated with us. Alred will, too. And I'll get Jennings Murrhee to tell them that you cooperated. We know you done it. Hell, tell us about it and cry about it and pray a little bit about it and you'll be all right.

The officers raised the spectre of the electric chair, suggested that they had the power to effect leniency, and suggested to the appellant that he would not be given a fair trial. It was under the influence of these threats and promises that the appellant made an oral confession. The appellant's motion to suppress his oral statements made before his first appearance was granted.

Following the initial interrogation which lasted about two hours, the appellant had his first appearance before a county court judge. He was in the presence of the judge for approximately fifteen minutes. He was advised of his rights. The judge became aware that the appellant had made a statement but he was not informed of the nature of the statement. The judge was not informed of the threats and promises that produced the statement. He did not inform the appellant that the initial statements could not be used against him.

After first appearance, the appellant went back into the custody of the same officers who performed the initial, tape-recorded interrogation. They told him they wanted a written statement of what he had confessed to them earlier. The appellant wrote out a confession and signed it. The written confession was admitted into evidence over the appellant's objection.

The appellant contends, among other matters, that the trial court committed reversible error in denying his motion to suppress his written confession. He argues that the statement should have been excluded because it was the product of the same clearly established coercive influences that rendered his oral statements inadmissible.

In order for a confession or an incriminating statement of a defendant to be admissible in evidence, it must be shown that the confession or statement was voluntarily made. Coffee v. State, 25 Fla. 501, 6 So. 493 (1889). The due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States...

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