Miller v. Dugger, 86-3405

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
Citation838 F.2d 1530
Docket NumberNo. 86-3405,86-3405
PartiesJon S. MILLER, Petitioner-Appellant, Cross-Appellee, v. Richard L. DUGGER, Respondent-Appellee, Cross-Appellant.
Decision Date10 March 1988

John A. Tucker, IV, Carlton, Fields, Ward, Emmanuel, Smith, Cutler & Kent, P.A., Jacksonville, Fla., for petitioner-appellant, cross-appellee.

Robert J. Krauss, Asst. Atty. Gen., Tampa, Fla., for respondent-appellee, cross-appellant.

Appeals from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

Before TJOFLAT and KRAVITCH, Circuit Judges, and TUTTLE, Senior Circuit Judge.

KRAVITCH, Circuit Judge:


Jon Miller, the petitioner and appellant in this case, was released from jail in Lee County, Florida, on December 22, 1970. 1 That afternoon, Miller took a taxi driven by Margaret Louise Sessions from downtown Fort Myers to Fort Myers Beach. At the Beach Marina, Miller purchased from Stancil Ollis a stainless steel fillet knife with a six- to eight-inch blade. Miller's behavior raised suspicions in Ollis, who described Miller as "sort of wild looking," and in Darrell Coleman, who witnessed the purchase. Coleman decided to follow Miller as he walked across a bridge from Beach Marina to the beach, back across the bridge to the marina, into the Surf Club bar, and finally into another bar called the Mermaid Club. While Miller was in the Mermaid Club, Coleman telephoned the sheriff's office.

About fifteen minutes later, Miller left the Mermaid Club and got into the back seat of a taxicab driven by Alexandra Todd. Todd drove the cab across the bridge to a trailer that served as the taxicab office, where she and Miller changed cabs. Todd then drove Miller towards Fort Myers. Coleman attempted to follow the taxi, but he was thwarted by traffic, so he went back to the taxicab office to alert the manager, Todd's husband. Todd's husband tried to contact Todd by radio, but she did not respond.

That evening Todd's body was discovered inside her taxi in a parking area near the Lee County Commodity Warehouse. The police found Todd's body on the right (passenger) side of the front seat. An autopsy revealed that Todd had been stabbed several times in the front and back; one of the stab wounds was six inches deep. Tests disclosed the presence of fresh sperm inside Todd's vagina. Although the police did not find the murder weapon or any clothing that might have belonged to Miller, they did discover Miller's palmprint on the steering wheel of the taxicab.

Meanwhile, at about 5:55 P.M. that same afternoon, Miller walked out of a wooded area near Gibson's Department Store in Fort Myers and approached Joe Roberts in the store's parking lot. Miller was not wearing a shirt at the time. Miller gave Roberts five dollars and asked him to purchase a T-shirt for him. Roberts did so and then gave Miller a lift into downtown Fort Myers.

Approximately three hours later, Officer Charles Enderle arrested Miller in the Fort Myers bus station. Miller's clothes were removed at the Lee County jail. His trousers had a large amount of blood on the upper legs; paper money in the pockets also was stained with blood. 2 Enderle testified that at first Miller behaved normally, but at the jail Miller repeatedly told the police that an atomic bomb was about to explode.

Miller was interrogated by David Schmirler, an investigator in the State Attorney's Office, and by Sergeant Harry Morse, of the Lee County Sheriff's Office. 3 Morse administered Miranda warnings to Miller. Miller first stated, "I receive the vibrations, I mean I received the--the general attitude, and I--and I understood that I could remain silent, but I understood your attitude, and I--I decided I'd like to [inaudible]." Miller then acknowledged that he understood the rights. Miller proceeded to answer some questions asked by Morse, but his answers for the most part were "Yeah" or "Uh huh." Later, however, when Morse reminded Miller of his rights, Miller appeared confused and disoriented. As Schmirler and Morse pressed Miller into signing a form stating that he understood his rights, Miller became more passive and uncooperative. Miller did tell the questioners that he remembered taking a taxicab to Fort Myers Beach, having a few drinks, getting into a taxicab driven by a woman, and changing cabs. Miller did not remember anything else that happened until he woke up in a puddle of water, walked to a parking lot, met a young man whom he asked to buy T-shirts for him, and hitchhiked into Fort Myers.

After his indictment for the murder of Alexandra Todd, Miller was adjudicated incompetent to stand trial and was confined for two and one-half years at the Florida State Hospital. 4 On December 14, 1973, the Florida trial court adjudicated Miller competent to stand trial. At trial, Miller relied principally on the defense of insanity. When the state sought to introduce a tape of the statement that Miller had made to Schmirler and Morse during their interrogation of him on the night of Todd's murder, defense counsel objected because Miller "could not knowingly and voluntarily ...," whereupon counsel was cut off by the trial court. A few minutes later, defense counsel again objected to the introduction of the tape. The following discussion ensued:

MR. GRACE [Defense Counsel]: If it please the Court, I would be willing to call the officers, Chuck Enderle and Officer Hawkins at his point for the purpose of showing that he didn't understandingly waive his rights.

THE COURT: This question of voluntariness is a question, if it appears to be voluntary, it's not a question for the Court, it's a question for the jury to determine whether or not it's voluntary; and I think prima facie the State has laid a proper case to introduce this statement, whatever it may be. Prima facie it appears to the Court that whatever was done was voluntary after the full Miranda warning. And I'm going--I think this is a question to be presented to the jury.

MR. COUSE [Prosecutor]: We'd be glad to play the tape for Your Honor if Your Honor would like to hear it prior to ruling on it.

THE COURT: We're going to have to play it in the absence of the jury in order for us to--.

MR. GRACE: If it please the Court, my objection is going to whether or not the man could freely and voluntarily, assuming therefore he understood it, whether or not he knew what he was doing at the time he said all these things to Sergeant Morse.

THE COURT: Isn't that a question for the jury?

MR. GRACE: No, sir. No, that's a question for the Judge, whether he made it freely and voluntarily. Therefore, I would like to call witnesses to show that he wasn't--.

THE COURT: You can call those witnesses. I think it's primarily a question for the jury under proper instructions of the Court. I think prima facie that the State had laid the proper predicate as far as voluntariness is concerned. The ultimate question is for the jury to decide. I think that it is a question for the Court to determine if it's prima faciely [sic] made and then it becomes a question for the jury. And I rule that it has been made.

The tape of Miller's statement was played to the jury. Miller also testified on his own behalf. He stated that he had called a cab to the Mermaid Club on Fort Myers Beach, had entered the cab, and had changed cabs with the driver. Then, he testified, "Well, we rode for a while and I saw the yellow in my mother and I started screaming and I pulled out the knife." Todd stopped the cab, and according to Miller, "I'm pretty sure this body stabbed her. The only thing I can recollect in the thing, I wouldn't say. I would say she was stabbed four times and not nine times [as prosecution witnesses had testified].... I was stabbing my mother. I don't even know what Alexandra Todd looks like."

Two psychiatrists testified for the defense. Dr. Clarence Schilt testified that, in his opinion, Miller was schizophrenic and insane at the time of the offense. Dr. Schilt stated that Miller suffered auditory and visual hallucinations during his examination. Dr. Schilt also explained that he based his diagnosis of schizophrenia largely on the flat effect of Miller's speech during examination. The prosecution stressed this point during closing argument because, according to the prosecutor, the tape of Miller's statements to the police did not demonstrate that Miller's voice had a flat effect but supported the conclusion that Miller was a logical thinking person at the time of the murder.

The jury deliberated for three hours, found Miller guilty of first degree murder, and recommended the death sentence. The Florida Supreme Court vacated the death sentence on direct appeal. Miller v. State, 332 So.2d 65 (Fla.1976). The trial court resentenced Miller to death, and the Florida Supreme Court again vacated the sentence. Miller v. State, 373 So.2d 882 (Fla.1979). Subsequently the trial court sentenced Miller to life imprisonment without possibility of parole. Miller filed this petition for habeas corpus pro se on September 7, 1983. 5 Ground One of his petition alleged that his taped "[c]onfession was allowed before the jury without a determination of voluntariness by the court." Ground Two alleged that "Miller's confession was involuntary and taken in violation of his Miranda rights." In the supporting facts for Ground Two, Miller asserted that "the confession was invalid due to Miller's psychiatric condition at the time he was arrested. The defendant was unable to make an intelligent waiver of his right to remain silent."

The magistrate's report and recommendation concluded that the state trial court violated Jackson v. Denno, 378 U.S. 368, 84 S.Ct. 1774, 12 L.Ed.2d 908 (1964), and Sims v. Georgia, 385 U.S. 538, 87 S.Ct. 639, 17 L.Ed.2d 593 (1967), by allowing Miller's statements to go to the jury without previously making an independent determination of the voluntariness of the statements. However, the magistrate concluded that...

To continue reading

Request your trial
122 cases
  • State v. Fulminante
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Arizona
    • 16 Junio 1988
    ......1774, 1780, 12 L.Ed.2d 908, 915 (1964); Payne v. Arkansas, 356 U.S. 560, 568, 78 S.Ct. 844, 850, 2 L.Ed.2d 975, 981 (1958); Miller v. Dugger, 838 F.2d 1530, 1535 n. 10 (11th Cir.), cert. denied, 486 U.S. 1061, 108 S.Ct. 2832, 100 L.Ed.2d 933 (1988); Johnstone v. Kelly, 808 F.2d ......
  • People v. Cheatham
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • 30 Julio 1996
    ...States v. Bradshaw, 290 U.S.App.D.C. 129, 133, 935 F.2d 295 (1991); Derrick v. Peterson, 924 F.2d 813 (C.A.9, 1990); Miller v. Dugger, 838 F.2d 1530 (C.A.11, 1988). In Derrick v. Peterson, Derrick, a sixteen year old, was taken into custody as a suspect in the murder of his parents. After t......
  • Powell v. Bowersox
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Missouri
    • 15 Agosto 1995
    ...Cir.1986). Thus "a valid waiver of Miranda rights must not only be voluntary; it must also be intelligently made." Miller v. Dugger, 838 F.2d 1530, 1538 (11th Cir.1988) (emphasis in original). Moreover, mental illness is a factor to be considered by the trial court when ruling on the validi......
  • US v. Bad Hand
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of South Dakota
    • 21 Mayo 1996
    ...even if he did, there was nothing in the record to show that he "exploited these weaknesses with coercive tactics." See Miller v. Dugger, 838 F.2d 1530, 1537 (11th Cir.) (quoting Connelly, 479 U.S. at 165, 107 S.Ct. at 520-21)), cert. denied, 486 U.S. 1061, 108 S.Ct. 2832, 100 L.Ed.2d 933 (......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT