People v. Hinds

Decision Date06 April 1984
Docket NumberCr. 6600
Citation154 Cal.App.3d 222,201 Cal.Rptr. 104
CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
PartiesThe PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Michael James HINDS, Defendant and Appellant. F001299.
OPINION

PAULINE DAVIS HANSON, Associate Justice.

Michael James Hinds appeals from a judgment of conviction of first degree murder with personal use of a firearm (Pen.Code, §§ 187, 12022.5), challenging the admissibility of his extrajudicial statements to police on Miranda (Miranda v. Arizona (1966) 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694) and voluntariness grounds. Respondent concedes Miranda error and "overbearing" police tactics. This wrongful conduct compels us to reverse; because a taped confession obtained in gross violation of appellant's Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights was introduced at trial, appellant's conviction cannot stand.

FACTS

On August 16, 1981, 19-year-old Michael Hinds killed his friend, Kenneth White, who was 21, with eight to nine blasts from a .12-gauge shotgun. There was no dispute at trial that appellant committed the homicide and that the killing was unlawful; the issues for the jury concerned the nature of the crime: whether appellant committed manslaughter or murder, and if murder, the degree of murder.

Sixteen-year-old Michelle M. had known the victim, Kenny White, since grade school and had dated him during a few months in 1981. They argued constantly. Michelle had slapped Kenny on at least one occasion, but he had never hit her. About five months prior to August 16, 1981, the relationship ended.

Michelle had known appellant for approximately five years and had shared a close "brother-sister" relationship with him for approximately one year. Appellant had been close friends with Kenny for some time prior to August 16. Appellant had been present during arguments between Kenny and Michelle which continued after the break-up of their relationship. Michelle admitted she frequently started quarrels because she was jealous of the friendship between the two men. Michelle never saw the men argue, although she heard appellant tell Kenny to " 'watch it' " if Kenny started to "get out of hand" in arguments with Michelle.

On Sunday, August 16, 1981, appellant and Kenny spent most of the day together. They saw Michelle a couple of times, and also went target practicing and hunting with appellant's stepfather's .12-gauge shotgun at about noon. Both were in a good mood. In the evening, appellant and Kenny watched television and drank beer at Kenny's house with Michelle and two other friends. During the evening, Michelle and Kenny engaged in yet another argument, yelling and cursing at each other concerning Michelle's jealous feelings about appellant spending his time with Kenny. Appellant was present and told both of them to " 'Cool it. Both of you shut up.' "

At approximately 10:30 p.m., apparently a short time after the argument, appellant and Kenny left in Kenny's TransAm to shoot rabbits. They did not appear to be angry at each other. Approximately one-half hour later, appellant returned alone. He explained to Michelle and the others present that Kenny had called Michelle a " 'bitch,' " which precipitated an argument; appellant said Kenny made him get out of the car at Kenny's house and drove away. Appellant was acting normally while relating this story. He then asked Michelle to step outside.

Outside, appellant told Michelle he had shot Kenny; he was crying and upset. Appellant took Michelle to the site of the killing and put Kenny's body in the trunk of the automobile; he then took Michelle home. Appellant asked his friend Bret Bollinger to go with him for a ride. On Highway 58, they picked up two women hitchhikers, Brenda Hixon and Casandra Craft, who accompanied them as far as Tehachapi. North of Mojave, appellant turned onto a dirt road, dropped off Bret, drove 50 yards farther and buried the body.

Appellant returned to Bakersfield with Bret; on the way they again picked up Hixon and Craft in Tehachapi. In the meantime, Michelle told her mother of Kenny's death and her mother called the police. Appellant was told by his stepfather that the police were looking for him and appellant left Bakersfield with the two hitchhikers. Appellant spent the rest of the night and the next day at Hixon's mother's house near Lake Isabella. He was arrested on August 18 in Mojave.

DISCUSSION
I

Appellant's principal claim of reversible error concerns the introduction at trial of the final and most damaging segments of a taped statement to police, which both parties treat as a complete confession to the crime of first degree murder. 2 Appellant contends use of this evidence was reversible error per se because the confession was the product of multiple Miranda violations and impermissibly coercive tactics. Respondent concedes such constitutional violations, but contends the conviction should be affirmed under the "rare case" exception to the rule of per se reversal. We conclude the doctrine argued by respondent has no application to this case and reverse the conviction.

On the morning of August 18, 1981, appellant was apprehended in Mojave, arrested and taken first to the Mojave substation and from there to the Bakersfield Police Department. During the trip, appellant was not advised of his rights and was not interrogated. Detective William Vines of the Bakersfield Police Department testified that he and Detective Richard Herman interviewed appellant at the police department starting at 3:45 p.m.

Five segments (five sides of three cassette tapes) of the interrogation of appellant were recorded. Only the final two were admitted at trial, based on the trial court's Evidence Code section 352 ruling. The first segment of the recordings contains the conceded Miranda violations as well as implied threats or promises of leniency. It is evident appellant had admitted he shot and killed someone when the officers began to tape the interrogation. The questioner first mentioned "[o]ther things you have to look at," and referred to previous comments by appellant. The questioner then suggested appellant could get the death penalty or "turn around and walk out the door," and explained, "because we weren't there all we can do is assume the worst until you tell us different." (Emphasis added.)

It is clear appellant had not been advised of his rights. Appellant finally insisted he be advised: "I know you gotta do it anyway," and the questioner did so, but not before deliberately misleading appellant concerning his right against self-incrimination, by telling him: "[A]nything you say doesn't necessarily held [sic ] against you, it can be held to help you, depending on what happened."

The detective read the Miranda warnings from a card, but spoke softly and indistinctly; it is barely possible to hear the admonition, "Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law." Upon completing this reading, the detective did not ask appellant whether he understood his rights and wished to waive them; instead, he inquired, "You want ... me to write something down."

At that point, appellant asked: "Tell me the truth, wouldn't it be best if I had an attorney with me?" Rather than ceasing interrogation, the questioner first stated this was for appellant to decide, and then suggested that if appellant called an attorney, the detectives could not help appellant anymore, and that an attorney would not be the one going to jail, possibly facing "first degree murder, special circumstances and the death penalty." After further persuasion in the form of exhortations that appellant was the only one that could tell them if it was "a goddamn shootout or ... a fight, or guys were drunk or it was an accident ...," appellant admitted shooting Kenny accidentally and then going "blank" when the victim screamed that he would kill appellant.

Thereafter, the detectives elicited numerous details about appellant's activities before and after the shooting; appellant repeatedly maintained that the first shot was an accident. Toward the end of this segment, one of the detectives told appellant at length that he thought appellant was lying and "playing games." The detective confronted appellant with apparent discrepancies between his account of what happened and appellant's admissions to his friends. However, appellant continued to claim the incident was an accident.

As the interrogation continued, appellant denied there was any argument between him and Kenny. Appellant discussed with the detectives the type of gun used and events after the shooting. Appellant again stated he did not mean to shoot the first time, insisting he was telling the truth. Appellant commented "... I might be 90 years old before I see daylight again and then again I may never see it.... [p] I'm heading down a one way path is all I see."

The fourth side of the tape recording begins with a formal advisement of rights and a "waiver" by appellant. On the recording, appellant's responses are virtually inaudible. Appellant again related the events of the killing, stating that the first shot was an accident. Thereafter, the detectives repeatedly accused appellant of lying because his story conflicted with statements reported by his friends, and exhorted him to tell the truth.

When appellant again stated, "It was an accident," Herman suggested that appellant's refusal to admit intentionally killing the victim was cowardly and would make things worse for appellant, as well as for his friends and his mother. The detectives pointed out that appellant's friends would be forced to testify against him,...

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  • People v. Spencer, S057242
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • 12 Julio 2018
    ...case where "Defendant understood his right to counsel and to remain silent, but waived those rights"].) (Contra People v. Hinds (1984) 154 Cal.App.3d 222, 230–231, 201 Cal.Rptr. 104 [a case of coercion in which the detective "spoke softly and indistinctly" 235 Cal.Rptr.3d 305while reading t......
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    .......         Defendant's final two claims of police misconduct need not detain us long. Citing People v. Hinds (1984) 154 Cal.App.3d 222, 201 Cal.Rptr. 104, he contends Detective Ferguson made an improper offer of leniency or "advantage" in suggesting that if defendant did not speak, his "side of the story" would never be told. As noted earlier, however, the contention is implausible. Furthermore, Hinds ......
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2 books & journal articles
  • Chapter 5 - §2. Elements for exclusion
    • United States
    • Full Court Press California Guide to Criminal Evidence Chapter 5 Exclusion of Evidence on Constitutional Grounds
    • Invalid date
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    • Full Court Press California Guide to Criminal Evidence Table of Cases
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