State v. Smith, 95-1077

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Citation546 N.W.2d 916
Docket NumberNo. 95-1077,95-1077
PartiesSTATE of Iowa, Appellant, v. Burt James SMITH, Derek Lee Smith, Blake Alan Privitt, and Jayson Randall Speaks, Appellees.
Decision Date17 April 1996

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Ann E. Brenden, Douglas R. Marek, Thomas H. Miller and Virginia Barchman, Assistant Attorneys General, and James DeTaeye, County Attorney, for appellant.

Kim M. Kouf, Assistant Public Defender, Marshalltown, and Julia Keifer, Public Defender, Nevada, for appellee Burt Smith.

Steven A. Kloberdanz, Marshalltown, and Stephen M. Terrill, Ames, for appellee Derek Smith.

Patrick L. Wilson, Marshalltown, and Donald Juhl, Nevada, for appellee Blake Privitt.

Paul C. Peglow and Kevin M. O'Hare of Johnson, Sudenga, Latham, Peglow & O'Hare, Marshalltown, for appellee Jayson Speaks.

Considered en banc.

SNELL, Justice.

I. Facts and Procedural Background

On October 5, 1994, the body of Rebecca Hauser was found in a car on a county road in Iowa. She had been shot and stabbed. The subsequent investigation led law enforcement officials to four juveniles in Missouri. Three of the four juveniles were then under the supervision of the Missouri juvenile court. Arrangements were made for Iowa officers to travel to Missouri to interview the juveniles, Burt and Derek Smith (twin brothers), Blake Privitt, and Jayson Speaks.

On October 8, 1994, Marshall County, Iowa Sheriff Tad Kamatchus and Iowa department of criminal investigation agent David Fees met with Mike Waddle, the director of juvenile court services for Missouri's second judicial district, and two Missouri juvenile probation officers. Waddle informed the Iowa officers they were in his jurisdiction and he required Missouri juvenile procedures be followed or he would not facilitate the interviews. The Iowa officers agreed to proceed under the Missouri rules.

The officers then proceeded to the juvenile center in Kirksville, Missouri. Each of the juveniles was present with his mother and was interviewed twice. Each was interviewed individually, accompanied by his mother. The initial interview was preceded by a discussion between the officers and the mother. At that time each mother was told that her son was to be interviewed regarding any information he might have relating to the killing of a woman in Iowa. Each mother orally consented to the interview of her son. Before the interviews, director Waddle read to each juvenile from a written form explaining the juvenile's rights. Each juvenile followed along on the form and initialed next to each right as it was explained to him in order to indicate he understood what he had been told.

The first interviews lasted from twenty to forty minutes. None of the boys incriminated himself beyond admitting his presence in the Marshalltown, Iowa area and possession of a small-caliber rifle. Three of the four juveniles indicated the rifle had been thrown over a bridge in Missouri before reaching Iowa. After consent by his mother and himself each boy was then fingerprinted. After the first interview, each boy was asked to remain at the center and was placed in a separate room. Food and drink were provided, and the juveniles were allowed supervised restroom breaks. At the conclusion of all four interviews, officers noted inconsistencies leading them to believe the boys had not been completely honest. The boys were again interviewed--this time in reverse order: Blake Privitt, who had been interviewed last during the first series, was interviewed first and had a twenty-minute wait between interviews. Jayson Speaks waited approximately two hours. The Smith boys waited several hours before they were interviewed the second time. During this wait, they were not allowed to speak with their mother although she had asked to speak with them. At the beginning of the second interview each boy was briefly reminded of his rights. One by one the boys made incriminating statements regarding Hauser's killing.

The four juveniles were subsequently charged in Iowa with first-degree murder and first-degree robbery. All four moved to suppress their statements as having been obtained in violation of U.S. Constitutional and Iowa statutory rights, specifically Iowa Code chapter 232 (1993). Following a hearing, the district court filed a ruling with extensive findings. The court concluded the boys were not in custody during the initial interviews and therefore no Miranda rights attached at that time. The court concluded, however, the custodial relationship changed following the initial interviews. Because each juvenile received Miranda warnings prior to the first interview, new warnings were not necessary before proceeding with the second interviews. The court next concluded that with respect to a constitutional inquiry, all the statements were voluntarily made; however, the court concluded Iowa juvenile law was applicable and the required safeguards were not satisfied during the second series of interviews. The court thus concluded the statements given following the second interviews were involuntary according to Iowa Code section 232.45. The court also concluded even if Missouri law governed rather than Iowa law, the statements were not obtained in strict compliance with either. The court ruled the written confessions obtained following the second interviews were inadmissible at trial.

Following an additional hearing, the district court rejected the State's argument that a rifle recovered by Iowa authorities would have been inevitably discovered by lawful means. The court therefore ruled the rifle was discovered as an illegal fruit of the boys' involuntary statements and was inadmissible evidence.

Because we hold the defendants were not in custody at the time of the second series of interviews, we reverse the district court's order to suppress their written confessions. We also reverse the district court's suppression of the rifle as it is not an illegal fruit of involuntary statements. We need not reach the question of the applicability of Iowa or Missouri juvenile procedures as such safeguards do not apply in absence of a custodial situation.

II. Custody
A. The Reasonable Person Standard

The initial question with which we are faced in examining defendants' challenge to the interview procedure is whether the defendants were in fact in the custody of law enforcement officials at the time of the second interviews. If the defendants were in fact in custody at this time, then they are entitled to the full complement of constitutional rights accorded by Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 444, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 1612, 16 L.Ed.2d 694, 706 (1966). In addition, provided they were in fact in custody at the time of the second interviews, because the defendants are juveniles they would be accorded additional procedural safeguards under Iowa Code chapter 232, Missouri Code chapter 211, and Missouri Supreme Court Rules 122.01 and 122.05, the portions of the code governing juvenile justice proceedings. Because the claims raised by defendants implicate a possible violation of constitutional rights, our review of this matter is de novo. State v. Thomas, 540 N.W.2d 658, 661 (Iowa 1995).

The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides in relevant part, "No person ... shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself...." U.S. Const. amend. 5. In Miranda v. Arizona, the Supreme Court first addressed the scope of this privilege in the situation of custodial interrogation. Miranda, 384 U.S. at 444, 86 S.Ct. at 1612, 16 L.Ed.2d at 706. The Court there held the privilege against self-incrimination applied to informal coercion by law enforcement officers as well as it did to formal coercion and required a defendant be advised of his rights prior to any "custodial interrogation":

the prosecution may not use statements, whether exculpatory or inculpatory, stemming from custodial interrogation of the defendant unless it demonstrates the use of procedural safeguards effective to secure the privilege against self-incrimination. By custodial interrogation, we mean questioning initiated by law enforcement officers after a person has been taken into custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom of action in any significant way.

Id. (emphasis added). The Court then set out the now familiar litany of rights of which the defendant is entitled to be reminded:

Prior to any questioning, the person must be warned that he has a right to remain silent, that any statement he does make may be used as evidence against him, and that he has a right to the presence of an attorney, either retained or appointed.

Id. In a footnote to the definition of custodial interrogation, the Court explained, "This is what we meant in Escobedo when we spoke of an investigation which had focused on an accused." Id. (citing Escobedo v. Illinois, 378 U.S. 478, 84 S.Ct. 1758, 12 L.Ed.2d 977 (1964)). This statement created some confusion, however, as some courts then required Miranda warnings be given whenever an investigation had focused on the defendant without requiring a separate finding of custody. In Beckwith v. United States, 425 U.S. 341, 345-47, 96 S.Ct. 1612, 1615-16, 48 L.Ed.2d 1, 6-8 (1976), the Court specifically clarified the issue and held that focus of an investigation on a defendant without anything more does not require the safeguards of Miranda.

The Miranda decision left in its wake much confusion on the question of the determination of custody. The Supreme Court and most state courts faced with the question seemed to basically reiterate the Miranda definition of custody and then proceeded to find or not find custody based upon the facts of the particular situation. See Oregon v. Mathiason, 429 U.S. 492, 494-95, 97 S.Ct. 711, 712, 50 L.Ed.2d 714, 718-19 (1977) (per curiam) (holding a parolee held at a police station for questioning was not in custody because he was free to leave at any time); Beckwith, 425 U.S. at 347, 96...

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