State in Interest of Dino

Decision Date08 May 1978
Docket NumberNo. 61283,61283
Citation359 So.2d 586
PartiesSTATE of Louisiana in the Interest of Andrew Leonard DINO.
CourtLouisiana Supreme Court

Frederic L. Miller, Peters, Ward & Miller, Francis M. Gowen, Jr., Shreveport, for defendant-relator.

William J. Guste, Jr., Atty. Gen., Barbara Rutledge, Asst. Atty. Gen., John A. Richardson, Dist. Atty., Andrew B. Gallagher, Legal Officer, Juvenile Court for Caddo Parish, Shreveport, for plaintiff-respondent.

DENNIS, Justice.

On August 3, 1977 a petition was filed in the Caddo Parish Juvenile Court seeking to have thirteen year old Andrew Leonard Dino, relator, adjudicated a delinquent based on the allegation that he committed the first degree murder of Cynthia Tew on June 26, 1977 in violation of La.R.S. 14:30. Relator denied the allegations contained in the petition.

Prior to the adjudicatory hearing relator filed a motion to suppress an inculpatory statement given to the Shreveport police on the ground that it was obtained in violation of his constitutional rights. Following a five day hearing the juvenile court denied the motion to suppress. The juvenile court also denied relator's motion for a trial by jury and his motion for a public trial.

We granted writs to review the pre-trial rulings of the juvenile court. State of Louisiana in the Interest of Dino, 353 So.2d 1334 (La.1978).

Waiver of Rights by a Juvenile

During the late afternoon of June 26, 1977 the parents of nine year old Cynthia Tew discovered that she was missing from home. Several residents in the neighborhood, including relator Andrew Dino, commenced a search for her. Early that evening the relator reported that he had found Cynthia, critically injured, in a wooded area behind the Tew and Dino houses. Cynthia was taken to the hospital and died shortly thereafter from severe head wounds without regaining consciousness.

The police began an investigation which extended over a period of about six weeks. Because relator was the one who discovered Cynthia the police were in frequent contact with him and his parents during the investigation. However, during the initial stages of the investigation the relator was regarded merely as a potential witness, rather than as a suspect, by the police.

On July 8, 1977, the relator at the request of the investigating officers went to the police station with his parents and gave the police a "witness informational" statement. On this occasion he did not implicate himself in the crime. His parents were not present in the room during the taking of the statement, which was recorded. Because of discrepancies between Andrew's statement and information from other sources, it was agreed that Andrew should take a polygraph test to clarify his earlier statement and to eliminate him as a potential suspect. 1 One test was cancelled by Andrew's father because of the youth's nervousness. Another test was scheduled but never performed when the polygraph examiner went on vacation.

On August 1, 1977 Andrew's father gave a witness statement to the police. Mr. Dino's account of Andrew's activities on the afternoon in question differed from that of his son. One of the officers testified that Andrew definitely became a suspect at this time.

On the afternoon of August 2, 1977, Andrew awoke from a nap and a bad dream. He told his mother he remembered being in the woods with Cynthia, that something "blue" had come toward them, and that he ran away leaving Cynthia alone. Mrs. Dino called one of the officers with whom she had become acquainted during the investigation and told him what Andrew had said. She asked the officer to come talk with Andrew after her husband came home from work. However, at the insistence of the officer Mrs. Dino agreed to bring Andrew to police headquarters. The officer agreed to leave word at her husband's office for him to join his wife and son at the stationhouse. Mrs. Dino attempted to call the family attorney to ask for advice before leaving her house, but he was not in.

Upon arrival at the station Andrew was taken into an office by the chief of police and one of the investigating officers. Mrs. Dino was left to wait in a separate room and was not asked if she wished to be present while they talked to Andrew. She was not told that the investigation had focused on Andrew as a suspect. She was not informed of her son's constitutional rights or given an opportunity to confer with him about whether he should give a statement without consulting a lawyer. Because they had not previously met the chief of police, Mrs. Dino and Andrew were asked if they objected to his presence during the interrogation. No objection was made, and no other conversation occurred before the interrogation began.

Apparently, the youth was not told either that he was free to leave or required to remain during questioning. According to the record Andrew was in the office with the chief of police and the other officer for approximately four to eight minutes. During this short period of time, the officers testified, Andrew read and listened to explanations of his constitutional rights, he waived his rights both orally and in writing, and he gave them an oral inculpatory statement. The officers' testimony was not detailed as to the oral explanation or the means by which it was determined that the warnings were fully understood by the thirteen year old youth. Contrary to the testimony of the officers, Andrew testified that they gave no explanation of his rights and that he did not understand what was on the paper signed by him. At the motion to suppress hearing a psychiatrist and a clinical psychologist testified that Andrew was incapable of understanding the language contained on the standard waiver form, but that he could have comprehended a statement of constitutional rights phrased in simpler terms. From our review of the officers' testimony it appears that the warnings given the youth were either quoted or paraphrased from a standard waiver form.

After the statement was given, the police informed Mrs. Dino that Andrew had confessed to the murder and asked her to sign the waiver card. She signed it without reading the warnings. Mr. Dino arrived at the station shortly after these events transpired. The youth was not allowed to leave the stationhouse with his parents but was placed in confinement in the juvenile detention center.

The constitutional privilege against self-incrimination and the rights to counsel and to confront and cross-examine witnesses are applicable in the case of juveniles as they are with respect to adult accuseds. 2 Article I, § 13 of the 1974 Louisiana Constitution requires that any person arrested or detained in connection with the investigation or commission of any offense must be advised fully of the reason for his arrest or detention, his right to remain silent, his right against self-incrimination, his right to the assistance of counsel and, if indigent, his right to court appointed counsel. By the adoption of this provision Louisiana enhanced and incorporated the prophylactic rules of Miranda v. Arizona, 3 which in essence require that the state, before it may use a confession at trial, establish that a defendant was informed of his right against self-incrimination and to have an attorney present at the interrogation; that he fully understood the consequences of waiving those rights; and that he did in fact waive those rights voluntarily and without physical or mental coercion. 4 This protection must have been given "when the individual (was) first subjected to police interrogation while in custody at the station or otherwise deprived of his freedom of action in any significant way." 5

The State raises a threshold issue by contending that the warnings required by Miranda and Article 1, § 13 of our constitution do not come into play in the instant case because the youth was brought to the police station and placed in an office with his interrogators through the voluntary action of his own mother. Perhaps in recognition that the circumstances surrounding young Dino rather plainly qualified him as a person who had been taken into custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom of action in a significant way, the State relies primarily upon the Supreme Court's decision in Oregon v. Mathiason, 6 which may to some extent modify Miranda. 7

The State's arguments must be rejected for several reasons. First, the precedent relied upon is distinguishable on its facts from the circumstances involved in Dino's interrogation. In Mathiason the Court held that police were not obliged to administer warnings to an adult parolee who came to the stationhouse at the request of a policeman to answer questions about his possible involvement in a recent burglary under investigation. Heavily emphasizing that Mathiason voluntarily came to the stationhouse as a possible suspect and was allowed to leave without hindrance when the questioning was over, the Court held that this was not the sort of coercive environment to which Miranda applies. The ingredients of the instant case are significantly different. The relator became the primary suspect in the murder investigation when the police learned of his admission to being in the woods with the victim before she was attacked. It cannot be said that young Dino, who was only thirteen years old and subject to the legal custody of his parents, acted voluntarily when he was brought to the stationhouse by his mother. Nor could one conclude realistically that he was not deprived of his freedom of action in a significant way when he was closeted with two adult policemen in the interrogation room, without counsel, parents, or friends. Insofar as the record reflects, young Dino was not "streetwise" and did not have any previous experience as a juvenile accused. The youth was never told that he was free to leave the police station, and he was placed in confinement immediately after his confession was taken. ...

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