Saucier v. State, 07-KA-58705

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
Citation562 So.2d 1238
Docket NumberNo. 07-KA-58705,07-KA-58705
PartiesJohn Reed SAUCIER v. STATE of Mississippi.
Decision Date25 April 1990

Herman F. Cox, Jimmy D. McGuire, McGuire & Cox, Gulfport, for appellant.

Edwin Lloyd Pittman, Atty. Gen., Mike C. Moore, Atty. Gen., Jackson, Jack B. Lacy, Jr., Sp. Asst. Atty. Gen., Jackson, for appellee.


DAN M. LEE, Presiding Justice, for the Court:


Today's appellant tenders serious questions regarding the right to counsel and the circumstances under which an accused's actions may constitute a waiver of that right. During initial custodial interrogation the accused admitted involvement in an armed robbery. The record reflects that he was repeatedly advised of his right to counsel while being interrogated and that he effectively waived same. The answers he gave were therefore admissible as evidence against him. We have reviewed all of the evidence in the record and find that the judgment of the Circuit Court should be affirmed.



The victim in this case, Linda Laferreire, drives a taxi. In the early morning hours of June 29, 1986, she was sitting in her taxi parked outside a storefront on U.S. Highway 90 in Biloxi, Mississippi. Approximately 2:00 a.m., a man, later identified as Saucier, accompanied by a woman, approached the taxi and asked Laferreire for a ride to Point Aux Chenes Road outside the city limits of Ocean Springs, Mississippi in Jackson County, fifteen miles from their location. Laferreire agreed. Saucier entered the taxi, seating himself behind Laferreire, the woman seating herself next to him on the backseat. Approximately thirty to forty minutes later they reached their destination.

Following directions from her passengers, Laferreire pulled the cab into the driveway of an abandoned house located in a dimly lit location at the end of the dead end street. Saucier then leaned forward and placed what felt and appeared to be a gun to the back of Laferriere's head and demanded money. The woman got out of the taxi and stood to its left. Saucier then leaned over the seat and picked up a pouch that contained between twenty and thirty dollars. He then told Laferriere to lie down on the seat, whereupon he reached over, ripped the microphone from her dispatch radio, pulled the keys from the ignition and threw them into the surrounding brush. Saucier then exited the taxi.

Laferriere sat up and saw a car approach from behind. She watched as Saucier turned, said good-bye, then proceeded into On July 27, 1986, almost one month after the robbery, the mother of a minor contacted the Ocean Springs Police Department concerning her son's participation in an armed robbery with John Reed Saucier. Det. Louis G. Miller of the Ocean Springs Police Department spoke with the minor about the armed robbery, determined that it had occurred in Jackson County, outside his jurisdiction, and contacted Officer Charles B. Polifrone of the Sheriff's Department. Miller then contacted Laferriere and had her meet him at the Ocean Springs Police Department.

the car with his female companion and drove away. Laferriere then went to a home in the neighborhood and called for help. Officer Patricia Cooley of the Sheriff's department arrived at the scene between 3:00 and 4:00 a.m.

Laferriere and Miller met Polifrone at the home of Justice Court Judge Raymond Beaugez that same evening, July 27, 1986. Laferriere filled out an affidavit and the officers obtained a search warrant for Saucier's arrest. Immediately thereafter, Miller, Polifrone and several other officers proceeded to Saucier's home.

Saucier was present when the officers arrived with the warrant. The officers, one of whom had prior dealings with Saucier, read him his Miranda rights, which included his right "to have an attorney present during any questioning and/or interrogat[ion]," and requested Saucier's consent to search the home for weapons. Responding that they would find no weapons in the house, Saucier signed a consent form for a search of his home.

Following the search of his home, Saucier was transferred to the Ocean Springs Police Department where he was, for the second time, advised of his Miranda rights. Saucier refused to sign a waiver of his rights, even though he signed an acknowledgment that he had been informed of his rights and understood them. He was then asked where the weapons were, to which he responded, "I hid them." Thereafter, Saucier talked with the officers regarding the armed robbery and, in his own words, "I did, in a way, admit to doing the armed robberies, but not exactly. I talked sort of in circles." Before being transferred to Pascagoula, Saucier told one of the officers where the weapons could be found.

While incarcerated in Pascagoula on July 28, 1986, Saucier met with his parole officer, Becky Fulton, regarding revocation of his parole based on the armed robbery charges. Before discussions were had, Ms. Fulton read Saucier the Miranda warnings; they then discussed the revocation hearing. Saucier was adamant about his wishes: he wanted to invoke his right to waive the hearing. Fulton checked with her supervisor and, because of the seriousness of the situation, refused to allow Saucier to waive the hearing. A revocation hearing was, in fact, held.

The following morning, July 29, 1986, Saucier was approached by two (2) law enforcement officers. For the fourth time Saucier was read the Miranda warnings; this time he signed an acknowledgment that he had been informed of his rights and understood them, as well as a separate waiver of those rights, attached at the bottom of the rights form. Specifically, the waiver stated "I, [signed by John R. Saucier], have been informed of my right to remain silent and the right to have any attorney present.... I fully understand those rights. I wish to waive those rights and agree to answer questions and/or make a statement. I do this voluntarily." See p. 1243, infra. He was asked if he was going to make a statement, to which he replied, "Yes, I am." Saucier then proceeded to give a full confession which was tape recorded and later transcribed. The admission of this confession into evidence is the subject of the first assignment of error.


On October 20, 1986, the Grand Jury of Jackson County returned an indictment formally charging John Reed Saucier, together with Elizabeth Jane Miles and the minor, with armed robbery. Miss.Code Ann. Sec. 97-3-79 (Supp.1989). The charges against Saucier were severed for trial.

The taped confession was the subject of a Motion to Suppress by Saucier. Following a suppression hearing, the trial court found the statement admissible as having been given freely, voluntarily and knowingly.

Saucier stood trial on April 18, 1987, and was found guilty as charged. The jury was unable to agree on the matter of punishment whereupon the Circuit Court sentenced Saucier, then thirty-one years old, to a term of twenty-five years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections.

This appeal has followed.



Saucier made three incriminating statements in the first day and a half following his arrest--each without the benefit of counsel. On the morning of Monday, July 28, 1986, Saucier told where the gun(s) were and admitted involvement, though principally blaming the minor participant. Later that day Saucier met with a parole officer and again made incriminating admissions. On Tuesday morning, July 29, 1986, Saucier gave a full tape-recorded confession which was later transcribed. On appeal, Saucier charges error in the Circuit Court's overruling his objection to each.

The facts are crucial. Between 1:45 and 2:00 a.m. on July 28, 1986, a number of law enforcement officers proceeded to Saucier's residence to execute a warrant for his arrest. Capt. Paul Herrington of the Jackson County Sheriff's Department served Saucier with the warrant and read him what are commonly known as the Miranda rights. Det. Miller then spoke with Saucier and obtained his consent to search the house.

The officers then transported Saucier to the Ocean Springs Police Department. Det. Charles B. Polifrone read Saucier his rights once again and Saucier signed a form at 3:14 a.m. acknowledging that he had been informed of his rights and understood them. Det. Polifrone then asked Saucier to sign a waiver of his rights. Saucier refused. The waiver form is marked "Refused--CBP" and is dated July 28, 1986, at 3:15 a.m. Det. Miller then asked about weapons and Saucier responded "I hid them." Det. Miller, aware that "them" "was supposed to be a handgun and a shotgun," told Saucier that if the guns were found by someone "a kid or whatever and discharged ... some kids picked it up and shot one another or shot themselves with it ... it could look bad on him." Saucier said nothing. On this factual point, the record indicates that Det. Polifrone came back into the interrogation room where Saucier stated at the suppression hearing that he "talked in circles" concerning his involvement in the robbery.

Shortly thereafter, as officers were about to transport Saucier to Pascagoula, he said to Miller "I need to talk to you." Saucier and Miller stepped into a little lounge, a kitchen-type area, at the Ocean Springs Police Department and Saucier then told Miller he had hid the guns under a bush in the backyard. Saucier then admitted some involvement in the armed robbery but, according to Miller, "he put the monkey on the kid's back." At daylight the next morning officers recovered the weapons.

On July 28, 1986, after Saucier had been transported to the Jackson County Adult Detention Center in Pascagoula, he was approached by Becky Fulton, a probation and parole officer with the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Officer Fulton was supervising Saucier incident to his parole. 1 Fulton served Saucier with a warrant for parole violation. The purpose of the meeting was solely to discuss Saucier's revocation hearing. Both Ms. Fulton and Saucier...

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