Montes v. State

Decision Date19 August 1975
Docket Number374S53,Nos. 174S29,s. 174S29
Citation263 Ind. 390,332 N.E.2d 786
PartiesLuis MONTES, Appellant, v. STATE of Indiana, Appellee. John D. FARRAR, Appellant, v. STATE of Indiana, Appellee.
CourtIndiana Supreme Court

Robert G. Mann, David F. McNamar, John Muller, Indianapolis, for appellants.

Theodore L. Sendak, Atty. Gen., John H. Meyers, Deputy Atty. Gen., Indianapolis, for appellee.

DeBRULER, Justice.

Appellant Montes was found guilty of second degree murder I.C.1971, 35--1--54--1, being Burns § 10--3404, and appellant Farrar was found guilty of first degree murder, I.C.1971, 35--13--4--1, being Burns § 10--3401, in a trial by jury. Each received a sentence of life imprisonment. Their joint trial was conducted by the Honorable Saul I. Rabb. Their appeals to this Court have been consolidated for consideration by us.

Mr. David Doty was employed by the State as houseman to oversee the operation of a work release center located in a house in a residential neighborhood in Indianapolis. He lived in the house along with fifteen inmates of the Indiana Reformatory among whom were appellants Montes and Farrar. Resident inmates were permitted to leave the house to work at jobs in the city and to leave the house on other occasions by special permission. On March 13, 1973, Doty was bludgeoned to death in the center in the early morning hours. The first officer to investigate the crime arrived at the center at 5:30 a.m. and found Doty's body lying in a pool of blood in an anteroom adjacent to the kitchen and back door of the house. He had died of multiple skull fractures and brain damages. An iron bar wrapped in a towel was found next to the body. The checkbook of the victim and gloves bearing bloodstains were found in a garbage can on the back porch.

Appellants were convicted almost entirely upon the confessions which they gave to the police at the police station. The first question raised in this appeal is the admission into evidence of those statements. The surrounding circumstances are these. After the first officer arrived at the house, he was joined by several others. Thirteen inmates, including appellants, were in the house at the time. Two had signed out and were at work. Those two were picked up from work and returned to the house. All fifteen were then perfunctorily interviewed at the house. There, an inmate by the name of Radford informed the police that the had eaten breakfast with the victim before leaving for work that morning at 4:20 a.m., and, at that time, he had seen the appellant Montes coming up the stairs, and that Montes had asked him the time. Appellant Montes confirmed this event and added that he had asked the time because he had no clock. An examination of Montes' room revealed an electric clock which appeared to be running and in order. Some suspicion was cast upon him by these statements. Appellant Farrar, who was Montes' roommate, stated that he was asleep at the time of the crime. Following this type of brief questioning, all inmates were taken to police headquarters in three or four squad cars.

Appellant Montes was given an advisement of rights at the police station in conformity with the mandate of Miranda v. Arizona (1966), 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694, at 11:52 a.m., prior to any questioning, and signed an appropriate written waiver. He was questioned off and on until 5:00 p.m., when he gave the police a statement in which he admitted that both he and Farrar had beaten the victim with the bar in order to steal his checkbook and to avoid detection and return to prison. During the afternoon interrogation, he was given additional Miranda advisements. During the afternoon also, immediately prior to giving his incriminating statements, he consented to and was given a polygraph examination.

Appellant Farrar was given a Miranda advisement in the late afternoon prior to any questioning and executed a written waiver. After consenting to and taking a polygraph test, he was confronted with Montes' confession and admitted his participation in the crime.

At about 7:00 p.m. of the same day, Montes and Farrar were installed in an interrogation room with two of the interrogating officers. The statement of Montes was read aloud to both of them, and, three or four times during the reading, Farrar was asked whether the matter recorded there was true and he replied affirmatively and also offered minor corrections.

The following morning Montes and Farrar were taken to court and presented for the first time to a judge.

At trial, appellants' counsel objected to the admission of their incriminating statements on the ground that such statements were the product of their illegal arrest or detention. The trial court overruled this objection. Such a contention, if supported, would require the exclusion of the statements. In Davis v. Mississippi (1969), 394 U.S. 721, 89 S.Ct. 1394, 22 L.Ed.2d 676, the U.S. Supreme Court stated the requirement and purposes of such an exclusionary rule:

'Our decisions recognize no exception to the rule that illegally seized evidence is inadmissible at trial, however relevant and trustworthy the seized evidence may be as an item of proof. The exclusionary rule was fashioned as a sanction to redress and deter overreaching governmental conduct prohibited by the Fourth Amendment. To make an exception for illegally seized evidence which is trustworthy would fatally undermine these purposes. Thus, in Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643, 655, 81 S.Ct. 1684, 6 L.Ed.2d 1081, (1961), we held that 'all evidence obtained by searches and seizures in violation of the Constitution is, by that same authority, inadmissible in a state court.' (Italics supplied.)' 394 U.S. at 724, 89 S.Ct. at 1396.

When, as here, the rule is invoked by the accused, and no warrant has authorized the police action, the burden is on the state to produce its evidence and prove that the arrest or detention was not illegal by Fourth Amendment standards. State v. Smithers (1971), 256 Ind. 512, 269 N.E.2d 874. Or, in the alternative, it must show that 'granting the establishment of the primary illegality, the evidence to which instant objection is made has been come at . . . by means sufficiently distinguishable to be purged of the primary taint.' Wong Sun v. U.S. (1963), 371 U.S. 471, 488, 83 S.Ct. 407, 417, 9 L.Ed.2d 441, quoting from Maquire, Evidence of Guilt, 221 (1959). See also, Harrison v. United States (1968), 392 U.S. 219, 88 S.Ct. 2008, 20 L.Ed.2d 1047; Pirtle v. State (1975) Ind., 323 N.E.2d 634; In Re Betrand (1973), 451 Pa. 381, 303 A.2d 486; Commonwealth v. Jackson (1975), Pa., 331 A.2d 189.

In Indiana, the Department of Correction is charged by statute with the custody and training of persons committed by the courts to serve sentences of imprisonment in correctional institutions of this State. I.C.1971, 11--1--1.1--1, being Burns § 13--2501. According to I.C.1971, 11--7--9--1 through 11, being Burns §§ 13--140 through 13--151, said Department is required to establish a work-release plan and to promulgate rules and regulations governing its operation. Inmates selected for participation in the plan are released from confinement during the time necessary to travel in the free community to a place of employment, perform their work, and return to quarters designated by the Department. In March, 1973, furloughs from custody of those on work-release status were permitted under certain circumstances for prescribed periods of time. I.C.1971, 11--7--9--10, being Burns § 13--149. While the prisoners in the plan may be quartered in minimum security housing within the free community, they, nevertheless, technically remain inmates of the institution to which they were committed and are in the custody of the Department of Correction. Burns, Rule (13--143)--8, being Dept. of Correction, Rule 8 (1968). An inmate's participation in the plan may be terminated if he 'conducts himself . . . in a manner reflecting adversely upon himself, the parent institution or the department of correction.' Burns, Rule (13--143)--9, being Dept. of Correction, Rule 9 (1968).

The effect of the police here was to deny to the fifteen men confined in the house, including appellants, the privileges of the work-release program for a period of time sufficient to permit the police to question each man in detail. Weighing in favor of the reasonableness of this restrictive action was the high probability that one of the fifteen had just demonstrated that he would kill for negligible benefit and was therefore in a state highly dangerous, not only to citizens in the neighborhood should he escape the minimum security center, but also to fellow inmates with whom he was locked up in the center. Also, the killing had left the center without its lone resident superintendent at an early hour of the morning. On the other hand, the police have no authority to arrest for the purposes of questioning absent probable cause sufficient to satisfy the mandates of the Fourth Amendment. Neither do the police have the authority to subpoena witnesses for investigatory questioning, as does a grand jury.

However, we do not decide whether the police action in restricting the work-release privileges of appellants and their fellow inmates was illegal as in violation of rights guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment. We are convinced that, even though the restrictions placed upon appellants be considered illegal, the State carried its burden of showing that the incriminating statements of appellants were not generated by exploitation of any such assumed illegality.

In Brown v. Illinois (1975), --- U.S. ---, 95 S.Ct. 2254, 45 L.Ed.2d 416, the U.S. Supreme Court held that Miranda warnings alone could not serve to attenuate the taint attached to a confession by an unconstitutional arrest. The Court first reminded us of the strong Fourth Amendment side to Wong Sun, supra:

'In order for the causal chain, between the illegal arrest...

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