Miller v. State, 46220

Decision Date01 February 1971
Docket NumberNo. 46220,46220
Citation243 So.2d 558
PartiesWillie Earl MILLER v. STATE of Mississippi.
CourtMississippi Supreme Court

Louie Bishop, Waynesboro, for appellant.

A. F. Summer, Atty. Gen. by Guy N. Rogers, Asst. Atty. Gen., and William Jeff East, Sp. Asst. Atty. Gen., Jackson, for appellee.


This is an appeal from the Circuit Court of Wayne County wherein a jury found the appellant guilty of grand larceny for which he was sentenced to serve three years in the state penitentiary.

One of the appellant's assignments of error is that the lower court erred in admitting into evidence a confession made by the appellant since it was procured as the result of a promise or inducement by the sheriff of the county. The sheriff's testimony upon the hearing to determine the validity of the confession was in part as follows:

We picked him up on the 12th, and he begin to tell how he believed that it was his calf, that he felt it was his calf, and all that, and Mr. Harper left. It was getting late. Mr. Harper left and told him he would be back the next morning. Later on I went in there and talked to the boy and told him his mother and them wanted to get him out of jail. I had walked back, carried him and put him in the jail. They wanted to carry him home. I told him that I would let them carry him to the house, and he be back up here the next morning, and he might better tell the truth about the thing, he would be better off. So he left and went home and came back up here about nine o'clock the next morning, him and his mother.

On cross-examination he further testified:

'Q. The next morning, on March 13th, you had not talked to this boy prior to the time that Mr. Harper talked to him?

A. Yes. Yes, he had talked to me.

Q. And what had you all talked about?

A. Well, he decided, said-I had told him the night before it would be best for him to tell the truth about the thing. The next morning he came up and said he wanted to tell me how it happened, and he told me.

The trial court found the appellant's statement to have been freely and voluntarily made. It did not, however, rule upon the statement of the sheriff with regard to whether it was an inducement or offer of leniency to the appellant if he would confess. In Robinson v. State, 247 Miss. 609, 613, 157 So.2d 49, 51 (1963), we stated: '* * * a mere exhortation or adjuration to speak the truth will not exclude a confession, but where such adjuration is accompanied by an expression that it would be better for the accused to tell the truth, some courts have refused to admit such confession. * * *', citing Mathews v. State, 102 Miss. 549, 59 So. 842 (1912) and Frazier v. State, 107 So.2d 16 (Fla.1958). We held in Robinson that the statement or confession made subsequent to an exhortation to 'square with the State, or the City, whoever the crime was against' and with the "man upstairs' and that if he didn't, he wasn't trying to help himself' was the equivalent of an inducement, rendering the statemen inadmissible in evidence as being involuntarily made.

In Mitchell v. State, 24 So. 312 (Miss.1898), we held that a confession given by the defendant was not voluntarily made subsequent to the defendant's being advised by the sheriff that it would be better for him to tell all about it.

Recently, in Agee v. State, 185 So.2d 671, 674 (Miss.1966), we held:

A confession made after the accused has been offered some hope of reward if he will confess or tell the truth cannot be said to be voluntary. This Court has long adhered to the rule that when the offer of reward or hope of leniency is made by a private individual the same rule applies. In Clash v. State, 146 Miss. 811, 112 So. 370 (1927) a confession was held inadmissible when it was signed by the accused after a private individual had told him that, '* * * 'If he would tell us about the money, and return it, we would let him out of jail on bond." In Johnson v. State, 89 Miss. 773, 42 So. 606 (1906) private citizens told the accused that, '* * * it would be better for him to confess, as it would go lighter with him if he told the truth.' The confession that followed these statements by private citizens was held inadmissible.

Although the statement made by the sheriff that the appellant would be better off by telling the truth was probably not intended as an inducement, yet, when it is considered under the circumstances in which it was made, we conclude it very probable that the statement caused the appellant to confess. Some of these circumstances were that the appellant was a twenty-year-old Negro youth of provious good reputation, having never been incarcerated before, who was desirous of being released from jail. These factors, when considered with the additional fact that the sheriff is the highest officer of the county, a representative of the State, speaking in his official capacity to a youth accused of a crime, cast such doubt upon the confession as to render it inadmissible in evidence. We are of the opinion the confession was not voluntarily made and that its admission constitutes reversible error.

We have examined the other assignments of error and find them to be without merit. The indictment which charged the larceny of a 'neat calf' is in compliance with ...

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18 cases
  • Willie v. State, 89-DP-1285
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • July 24, 1991
    ...caused a youth to be induced to confess by an officer telling the youth that he would be better off telling the truth. Miller v. State, 243 So.2d 558, 559 (Miss.1971). Likewise, we have found that an accused who was personally acquainted with the interrogating officer, worked with the offic......
  • Chase v. State
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • February 24, 1994 be involuntary. Therefore, I'm going to overrule the motion to exclude the statement. Chase argues that the case of Miller v. State, 243 So.2d 558 (Miss.1971) is "almost identical to the case at bar." In Miller, the sheriff testified that he told Miller "it would be better for him to tel......
  • Abram v. State
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • July 29, 1992
    ...that Abram may have been given the impression by he and Sheriff Forbes that cooperation could be of some benefit. In Miller v. State, 243 So.2d 558 (Miss.1971), a confession was held inadmissible where the defendant was induced by a statement from the sheriff to the effect that he would be ......
  • Le v. State, 2002-DP-01855-SCT.
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • April 28, 2005
    ...of the questioning, also points out that youth can be a factor to consider under the totality of the circumstances test. Miller v. State, 243 So.2d 558, 559 (Miss.1971). ¶ 57. In Puckett v. State, 737 So.2d 322, 350 (Miss.1999), this Court The purpose of Miranda is to protect the defendant'......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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