State v. Bleyl

Citation435 A.2d 1349
PartiesSTATE of Maine v. Richrd F. BLEYL, David E. Chamberlain and Mark V. Coyne.
Decision Date29 September 1981
CourtSupreme Judicial Court of Maine (US)

Ayer & Hodsdon, Stephen Y. Hodsdon (orally), Kennebunk, for Mark coyne.

Skelton, Taintor & Abbott, P.A., John B. Cole (orally), Lewiston, for Richard F. Bleyl.


GODFREY, Justice.

Alleging that various constitutional and evidentiary errors were committed at their joint trial, Richard Bleyl, David Chamberlain and Mark Coyne have brought this consolidated appeal from judgments of conviction for manslaughter, 17-A M.R.S.A. § 203(1)(A), burglary, 17-A M.R.S.A. § 401(2)(B), and robbery, 17-A M.R.S.A. § 651(1)(C), entered in the Superior Court, Androscoggin County. We affirm the judgments of conviction of manslaughter, burglary and robbery of the defendants Chamberlain and Coyne. We affirm the judgment of conviction of burglary of the defendant Bleyl but vacate the judgments of conviction for manslaughter and robbery against Bleyl.

On October 28, 1979, Annesie Goulet, an elderly woman who owned and lived in an apartment house in Lewiston, was found lying dead on a bed in her apartment. Her hands and feet were bound, her mouth was stuffed with facial tissue held in place by a nylon stocking used as a gag, and an apron covered her face. An autopsy revealed that she had died from asphyxiation. Her purse was found next to the bed. Bureau drawers in the apartment were open and jumbled, and various containers were found strewn on the bed with their lids off.

Local and state police began investigating Miss Goulet's death by interviewing her present and former tenants. Former tenants Matilda Shaw and David E. Chamberlain, alias, "David Shaw", were discovered to be living at that time in Dover, New Hampshire. After telephoning Dover police, Maine police detectives Ouellette and Cram traveled to New Hampshire on November 1 for the purpose of interviewing the Shaws. Two Dover detectives and the two Maine detectives arrived at the Shaw apartment in the late afternoon and were admitted by Matilda Shaw. Soon after the detectives entered the apartment, Chamberlain, who lived with Matilda Shaw, arrived. At the request of police, Chamberlain agreed to go to the Dover police station to answer some questions about his former landlady. During the course of his interrogation by Detective Ouellette, Chamberlain admitted his involvement in Annesie Goulet's death. He also implicated Richard Bleyl and Mark Coyne in the criminal activities of October 27.

Chamberlain told Detective Ouellette that he, Bleyl and Coyne, with two other men not parties to this appeal, had driven to Lewiston from Somersworth, New Hampshire, with the object of taking some money from the Goulet apartment. They arrived in Lewiston at about 9:00 p. m. and drank beer in several bars before driving to the Goulet apartment building. According to Chamberlain's account, Chamberlain, Bleyl and Coyne entered the apartment through an unlocked door and went into the bedroom. As Chamberlain picked up Miss Goulet's purse, she awoke. According to Chamberlain, Coyne and Bleyl bound and gagged the struggling woman. After rifling some drawers in the apartment, the three men left, rejoined their companions in the car and drove back to New Hampshire. At some point the five men divided sixty-eight dollars taken from Goulet's apartment.

Captain Rowe of the Dover Police Department formally arrested Chamberlain at about 8:00 p. m. On the basis of Chamberlain's statements, which were fully consistent with Ouellette's prior knowledge of the scene of the crime, Ouellette wrote an affidavit to the effect that he, Ouellette, was investigating a homicide and that David Chamberlain had made a statement "as to his involvement, that of Mark Coyne ... and Richard Beyle (sic) all of New Hampshire." Ouellette swore to this affidavit before Captain Rowe. Rowe then prepared fugitive-from-justice complaints and warrants against the men implicated by Chamberlain. Rowe took those documents to a justice of the peace, who issued the warrants. The defendants have questioned the validity of those warrants, and the State has argued the constitutional issues presented in their case on the assumption, arguendo, that the warrants were defective. We make the same assumption. In any event, the record leaves no doubt that the police acted with a good faith belief that the warrants were valid.

Armed with the warrants, Captain Rowe, Detective Cram and two Somersworth, New Hampshire, police officers drove to Mark Coyne's apartment in Somersworth. Mark Coyne's wife let them inside, where they found and arrested Coyne and Richard Bleyl. Miranda warnings were given to Coyne and Bleyl at the time of their arrest. 1 Police conducted no questioning until after giving the two men further Miranda warnings at the Dover police station. Both Coyne and Bleyl signed waiver-of-rights forms and made statements implicating themselves in the Goulet matter.

After extradition to Maine, the three defendants were indicted by an Androscoggin County grand jury for murder, robbery and burglary. The three were tried jointly; the out-of-court statements of all three were admitted through the testimony of police officers. None of the defendants testified. Each was convicted of manslaughter, burglary and robbery. From judgments entered on the verdicts, Chamberlain, Coyne and Bleyl have brought the present appeal.

All three defendants have raised arguments that the presiding justice erroneously refused, before trial, to suppress their out-of-court statements regarding the events in Lewiston. All three claim that police violations of their constitutional rights under the fourth, fifth and sixth amendments required the exclusion from evidence of statements they gave to officers on November 1. Because Chamberlain's interrogation and arrest came about in different circumstances from Coyne's and Bleyl's, we shall first address Chamberlain's arguments, then treat Coyne's and Bleyl's jointly.


In the late afternoon of November 1, David Chamberlain arrived at his Dover apartment and entered it to find four plainclothes detectives, his common-law wife, his three children, and Richard Bleyl. In light of the fact that there were "so many people in the apartment," Detective Ouellette asked Chamberlain "if he would mind coming to the Dover police station ... to answer some questions, and help ... out as far as knowing any past things from Miss Goulet." 2 Ouellette's notes regarding the incident stated that Chamberlain said he would be glad to come, and "he would help ... in any way that he could." Chamberlain and two of the detectives then departed for the police station in an unmarked police car.

In the Dover police station, Ouellette and Chamberlain talked in a small interview room for some time, the conversation centering initially on Chamberlain's relationship with Annesie Goulet at the time he was her tenant. Chamberlain told Ouellette that he had been in Lewiston on October 27, having gone there with Coyne and Bleyl to make a drug deal. Ouellette shifted the conversation back to the Goulet death, telling Chamberlain that police were going to run polygraph tests on other tenants of Miss Goulet and inquiring whether Chamberlain would be willing to take such a test. Chamberlain told Ouellette he would want to see a lawyer before taking a polygraph test because he had once been "set up" on a drug deal.

Ouellette told Chamberlain he was not interested in drugs but only in what had happened to Annesie Goulet. At that point Chamberlain began to cry and said he didn't want to go back to jail. "He would miss the kids, and had been to jail before, and couldn't stand not seeing the kids." Ouellette then asked Chamberlain if he wanted to make a phone call. While Ouellette listened, Chamberlain called Matilda Shaw (referred to at the trial as his common-law wife) and told her he would probably have to go back to Maine and asked her whether she would "wait for him."

Ouellette's testimony at the suppression hearing provides the best description of the next events:

(PROSECUTOR): After he finished his phone call, what happened?

OUELLETTE: We went back into the interview room and sat down briefly.

(PROSECUTOR): What did you talk about then?

OUELLETTE: At that time I told David-see he was physically upset, and I told him that he was very close to his children. We had a conversation in regard to what the effects would be on the children. I told him I understood how he felt if there was a possibility of him not being able to see his children, and I told Mr. Chamberlain that I, myself, have two children that I don't get a chance to see very often, and I understood how he felt but that on the other hand if something really bothered him, the only ones that would ever get the worse (sic) end of the deal would be the children because if something was really upsetting him that anything that would come up between he and the kids a lot of times probably would take it out on the kids, and sometimes it was a lot worse to live with someone like that. I then asked if he would come out to the officers' lounge area in the rear of the building.

(PROSECUTOR): Did he say anything at this time?

OUELLETTE: No sir. It was not until we got to the rear lounge area-we got to the lounge area, and I asked Mr. Chamberlain if he wished to make another phone call, and he said no.

(PROSECUTOR): Did he say anything at that point?


(PROSECUTOR): What time of night is this?

OUELLETTE: Approximately seven o'clock.

(PROSECUTOR): And you went back and said he didn't want to make a phone call?

OUELLETTE: He said, no.

(PROSECUTOR): What did he do at that point?

OUELLETTE: As we were going into the room, there was a large table back there, and I told David that he could sit right there. At...

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