Paige v. State, No. 2105, Sept. Term, 2014.

CourtCourt of Special Appeals of Maryland
Writing for the CourtWRIGHT, J.
Citation126 A.3d 793,226 Md.App. 93
Parties Labria PAIGE v. STATE of Maryland.
Docket NumberNo. 2105, Sept. Term, 2014.
Decision Date30 November 2015

226 Md.App. 93
126 A.3d 793

Labria PAIGE
v.
STATE of Maryland.

No. 2105, Sept. Term, 2014.

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.

Nov. 30, 2015.


126 A.3d 795

Claire Caplan (Paul DeWolfe, Public Defender, on the brief) Baltimore, MD, for Appellant.

Todd W. Hesel (Brian E. Frosh, Attorney General, on the brief) Baltimore, MD, for Appellee.

Panel: WRIGHT, GRAEFF, and CHARLES E. MOYLAN, JR., (Retired, Specially Assigned), JJ.

WRIGHT, J.

226 Md.App. 97

Appellant, Labria Paige, was convicted by a jury in the Circuit Court for Howard County, Maryland, of theft under $1,000.00 in connection with a shoplifting case. After she was sentenced to 18 months, with all but six months suspended, appellant timely appealed and presents the following questions for our review:

1. Did the motions court err in denying Appellant's motion to suppress a statement obtained in violation of Miranda ?1

2. Did the trial court abuse its discretion in permitting Loss Prevention Officer Salley to narrate the events depicted in the Macy's closed-circuit camera footage?

For the following reasons, we shall affirm.

126 A.3d 796
226 Md.App. 98

BACKGROUND

Motions Hearing

On April 14, 2013, Thea Salley, a loss prevention agent with the Macy's Department store located in the Columbia Mall, testified that appellant and two juveniles were stopped by Macy's loss prevention agents as they exited the store carrying concealed merchandise. Because appellant fought with the loss prevention agents in the Macy's parking lot, the agents handcuffed her, for her safety as well as their own.

Appellant and the two juveniles were then escorted to the Macy's loss prevention office, located in an area of the store that otherwise was not accessible to the general public. Salley testified that the dimensions of the office was equal to half the size of the well in the courtroom, or approximately 20 feet by 20 feet. The room was well lit, and there were no police insignia located anywhere within the room. Further, there was one door to the office, and that door was closed during Salley's interview with appellant.

Salley stated that, as a loss prevention officer, she worked for Macy's, a retail store that is "not affiliated with any government organization." Salley testified that her office was "not a police department," and that loss prevention officers are not "endowed with arrest powers," nor are they "police officers themselves." According to Salley, during her six years at Macy's, she was never "affiliated with any law enforcement agency" and never worked for the Howard County Police Department or any other police department.

When appellant and her two companions initially arrived in the office, they were met by Salley and three other Macy's loss prevention officers. At that time, while Salley was attempting to get everything "sorted out," appellant admitted that the two juveniles were under her care and that, according to Salley, "she was taking all the blame for anything that they—that the two juveniles did." Salley also testified:

Ms. Paige was frightened that the two juvenile teenagers that was with her, she was frightened that she would be in
226 Md.App. 99
trouble by the parents of the children because they was under her custody. She was—they were hanging out with her is what she said and she wanted all the blame to go on herself because she didn't want the parents of the children to try to, you know, harm her or—and/or threaten her. So, she repeatedly said, "I did it. I did everything. I did everything. Don't involve them. Don't get them in trouble."

At a later point, Salley called the Howard County Police, informed them of the theft, and asked them to respond to the store. Salley testified that the police ordinarily were called anytime there was a shoplifting case where the value of the goods exceeded $50.00. Salley agreed that she called the police so that appellant would ultimately be charged in connection with the theft. She also stated that she had called Howard County Police about sixteen times in the past month and that equaled the average number of calls Macy's would make on a monthly basis.

Officer Kristian Bush, of the Howard County Police Department, arrived at approximately 2:10 p.m.2 Thereafter, at around 2:48 p.m., and after appellant's handcuffs had been removed, appellant signed a Macy's statement of admission

126 A.3d 797

form, a Macy's trespass notification form, and a Macy's civil demand notice.

Salley agreed that Officer Bush was present when these forms were signed. At the time, Officer Bush was standing near the door, up against a wall. Salley confirmed that Officer Bush did not handle the Macy's forms, and that she handed the forms over to appellant. In addition, Officer Bush never handcuffed appellant, nor did he ever threaten her. And, according to Salley, Officer Bush never spoke to appellant about the Macy's forms and never told her that she needed to talk in order to avoid arrest. Salley further testified

226 Md.App. 100

that she did not tell Officer Bush about appellant's earlier oral admission of guilt. After appellant signed the Macy's forms, she was temporarily transferred to the custody of Officer Bush, who released her shortly thereafter.3

In addition to Salley, Officer Bush also testified at the motions hearing, but he provided very limited details about the interview with appellant. He confirmed that he met with Salley on the day in question and went to the loss prevention office. However, when asked if he saw Salley direct anyone to sign any papers in his presence, the officer replied that he was "not sure," and "I didn't notice that." Officer Bush then concluded his brief testimony by stating: "I believe the—the three suspects that were in custody signed papers, and I'm not sure of the papers."

After testimony concluded, defense counsel moved to suppress any statements appellant made after Officer Bush arrived in the Macy's loss prevention office. Counsel's argument was that the presence of the police officer, as well as the other circumstances surrounding the interview, established that appellant was in custody when she signed the written admissions of guilt and that those statements should be suppressed. The State responded that any statements appellant made were not made to State agents because the Macy's employees were not working as agents of the police. Further, the State contended that Officer Bush was merely present and did nothing to either further the interview or to suggest that appellant was in custody.

In denying the motion to suppress, the circuit court found that, after Macy's employees observed an apparent shoplifting, they took appellant "into their custody based on a—what they observed." Appellant was handcuffed by Macy's personnel and then taken to the loss prevention office at the store. The court further found that there was no dispute that appellant

226 Md.App. 101

gave an oral admission of guilt, and that statement was made before the police officer, Officer Bush, arrived.

The circuit court then found that, after Officer Bush arrived, he did not take appellant into police custody, he did not handcuff her, he was not aware of the prior oral admission, and he did not make "any inquiries of the defendant concerning any statement or—or the signing of any documents by the defendant." The court also found that, although Officer Bush was present in the loss prevention office when appellant signed the written admissions, he did not "seem to be taking any sort of an active role" in the investigation. In fact, the court found that Officer Bush "wasn't entirely aware of exactly what the paperwork was" and that "their decision to present the paperwork to the defendant was not at Officer Bush's suggestion or direction."

The circuit court then concluded as follows:

126 A.3d 798
So, clearly, you have custody, but it's not police custody. It's Macy's custody. And I don't find that—that the Macy's personnel were acting on behalf of Officer Bush or the Howard County Police Department. The Macy's personnel clearly are not state agents or actors. The arrest was by Macy's. No participation in the arrest by Officer Bush. The handcuffs were Macy's. The Macy's loss prevention room is not a Howard County Police facility.

There is no indication Officer Bush made any gestures or statements to the defendant or about the defendant within earshot of the defendant to manipulate her into signing the subject documents.

So, the—I find that the defense has not met its burden of demonstrating that there was a Howard County Police custody or interrogation by Howard County Police or some actors acting on the—for the benefit of the Howard County Police Department or for—or based on any sort of encourage [sic] or direction
...

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41 practice notes
  • Ware v. State, No. 1178
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • August 24, 2016
    ...and we view the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, being the party that prevailed on the motion. Paige v. State, 226 Md. App. 93, 106 (2015) (citations omitted). "We review the motions court's factual findings for clear error, but we make our own independent constitutional a......
  • Vernon v. State, No. 92
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • October 3, 2016
    ...The issue whether a confession is voluntary presents a mixed question of law and fact, subject to de novo review. Paige v. State, 226 Md. App. 93, 106 (2015). Accord Jones v. State, 173 Md. App. 430, 441-42 (2007). "On review, we will not disturb the motion court's first-level factual findi......
  • Black v. State, No. 1719
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • October 19, 2020
    ...facts." "We review a circuit court's decisions to admit or exclude evidence applying an abuse of discretion standard." Paige v. State, 226 Md. App. 93, 124 (2015) (quoting Norwood v. State, 222 Md. App. 620, 642 (2015)). As indicated, "[a]n abuse of discretion occurs where no reasonable per......
  • Hicks v. State, No. 1542
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • January 24, 2019
    ...717 (2005) (discussing Md. Rule 5-702). Admission of opinion evidence is subject to an abuse of discretion standard. Paige v. State, 226 Md. App. 93, 124 (2015); Ragland, 385 Md. at 621. The Court of Appeals has explained:"The prototypical example of the type of [lay opinion] evidence conte......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
42 cases
  • Ware v. State, No. 1178
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • August 24, 2016
    ...and we view the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, being the party that prevailed on the motion. Paige v. State, 226 Md. App. 93, 106 (2015) (citations omitted). "We review the motions court's factual findings for clear error, but we make our own independent constitutional a......
  • Vernon v. State, No. 92
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • October 3, 2016
    ...The issue whether a confession is voluntary presents a mixed question of law and fact, subject to de novo review. Paige v. State, 226 Md. App. 93, 106 (2015). Accord Jones v. State, 173 Md. App. 430, 441-42 (2007). "On review, we will not disturb the motion court's first-level factual findi......
  • Black v. State, No. 1719
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • October 19, 2020
    ...facts." "We review a circuit court's decisions to admit or exclude evidence applying an abuse of discretion standard." Paige v. State, 226 Md. App. 93, 124 (2015) (quoting Norwood v. State, 222 Md. App. 620, 642 (2015)). As indicated, "[a]n abuse of discretion occurs where no reasonable per......
  • Hicks v. State, No. 1542
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • January 24, 2019
    ...717 (2005) (discussing Md. Rule 5-702). Admission of opinion evidence is subject to an abuse of discretion standard. Paige v. State, 226 Md. App. 93, 124 (2015); Ragland, 385 Md. at 621. The Court of Appeals has explained:"The prototypical example of the type of [lay opinion] evidence conte......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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