State v. Turner, No. 99-1247.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtTERNUS, Justice.
Citation630 N.W.2d 601
PartiesSTATE of Iowa, Appellee, v. Tyson Fairl TURNER, Appellant.
Docket NumberNo. 99-1247.
Decision Date05 July 2001

630 N.W.2d 601

STATE of Iowa, Appellee,
v.
Tyson Fairl TURNER, Appellant

No. 99-1247.

Supreme Court of Iowa.

July 5, 2001.


630 N.W.2d 603
Linda Del Gallo, State Appellate Defender, and Tricia A. Johnston, Assistant State Appellate Defender, for appellant

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Karen B. Doland, Assistant Attorney General, John P. Sarcone, County Attorney, and James Ward, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee.

TERNUS, Justice.

The defendant, Tyson Turner, challenges his conviction of the crime of felon

630 N.W.2d 604
in possession of a firearm. See Iowa Code § 724.26 (1997). He claims the court erred in admitting inculpatory statements he made prior to being given Miranda warnings. The State contends Miranda warnings were not required at the time Turner made the statements because Turner was not in custody and the statements were volunteered

In our de novo review, we conclude that Miranda warnings were required and any incriminating statements made by Turner should have been suppressed. Therefore, we reverse the judgment of conviction and remand for a new trial.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

On November 24, 1998, Des Moines police arrested Turner and charged him with three crimes: (1) dominion and control of a firearm by a felon in violation of Iowa Code section 724.26 (count I); (2) trafficking in stolen weapons in violation of Iowa Code section 724.16A (count II); and (3) possession of a controlled substance in violation of Iowa Code section 124.401(5) (count III). At the time of trial Turner waived a jury trial and agreed to submit the case on the minutes of testimony and the record made at an earlier suppression hearing. In return, the State dismissed counts II and III. The trial court found Turner guilty of count I and sentenced him to an indeterminate prison term of five years. The court then suspended this sentence and placed the defendant on probation.

The defendant now appeals the court's judgment. He asserts the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress inculpatory statements obtained by the police as a result of a custodial interrogation conducted in violation of Miranda. He also asserts there was insufficient evidence to establish he "knowingly" possessed a firearm, a necessary element of the charge of which he was convicted. See Iowa Code § 724.26.1 Finally, he asserts that the district court's finding of guilt was contrary to the weight of the evidence. The record reveals the following facts and circumstances surrounding the defendant's arrest and subsequent conviction.

Prior to November 24, 1998, Des Moines police suspected drug trafficking at the defendant's apartment, 1835 Mondamin Avenue, apartment no. 2 in Des Moines. These suspicions were based on a citizen complaint and surreptitious surveillance of the apartment by narcotics investigator, Michael Westlake, and an area patrol officer, Joe Widlowski.

On the evening of November 24, 1998, Officer Widlowski happened to be in the area to serve an arrest warrant on an individual thought to be located in a residence across the street from the apartment under surveillance. Widlowski and another policeman, Officer Cretsinger, were unsuccessful in locating the warranted individual, but noticed "three individuals standing at the base of the stairs of apartment number 2." Due to the open narcotics complaint at the apartment, Widlowski and Cretsinger decided to talk to these individuals to "see what's going on." As the officers crossed the street, Turner, one of the three men in the group, started to ascend the stairs to apartment no. 2. Widlowski yelled at Turner several times to come back down, but Turner merely responded "just a minute" and continued up the stairs. Widlowski sped up his pursuit

630 N.W.2d 605
of Turner, but when he reached apartment no. 2, Turner had entered it and locked the door

Returning to street level, Widlowski and Cretsinger secured the other two individuals and radioed for back-up help. Widlowski then returned to the apartment, knocked on the door several times, but received no response. When back-up help arrived, Turner opened the door and walked out. Widlowski immediately placed Turner in handcuffs and did a quick pat down for weapons. No weapons were found. He then placed Turner with the other two secured individuals.

Widlowski next radioed Officer Westlake and advised him of the situation. Westlake testified that Widlowski informed him "the defendant had been arrested." (Emphasis added.) While waiting for the narcotics officers to arrive, Cretsinger and Widlowski conducted a "safety" search of the apartment to determine whether anyone else was inside. During this search, Widlowski observed marijuana floating in the toilet, a fact he later passed on to Westlake.

When Westlake and his partner, Officer Larine Blad, arrived, they found the defendant handcuffed and sitting outside on some railroad ties. At this point, they took over the investigation, and escorted Turner to their unmarked police car. Once inside the vehicle, the officers told Turner about the narcotics complaint on the residence and requested his permission to search the apartment in order to close out the complaint. Turner verbally agreed to give consent to the search and was taken, still handcuffed, up to the apartment by Officers Westlake, Blad, and Cretsinger. Once inside the apartment Turner's handcuffs were removed so he could sign the consent-to-search form. Turner was not handcuffed again until a firearm was discovered. At no time was Turner read his Miranda rights.

After written consent was obtained, the officers began searching the residence. During the search, Officer Cretsinger discovered a 9-millimeter handgun in a microwave located in the kitchen. Cretsinger returned to the living room of the small apartment where the defendant and the other officers were located. The officers were aware that Turner was a convicted felon and so, upon discovery of the gun, knew that a crime had possibly been committed.

At this point, Turner made incriminating statements regarding his knowledge of the firearm and its ownership. These statements consisted of a denial of ownership and inconsistent contentions as to the identity of the true owner. (It was later determined that the gun had been stolen from an individual not named by Turner as the owner.) Turner admitted that he knew the weapon was in the apartment. The testimony of the police officers was conflicting as to whether these statements were made in response to questioning by one of the officers.

The officers then placed Turner in handcuffs and arrested him for possession of a firearm as a felon. During his booking at the police station, marijuana was found in Turner's coat pocket, resulting in the additional charge of possession of a controlled substance.

On January 20, 1999, Turner filed a motion to suppress, asserting that statements he made during the search of his residence occurred in the absence of any Miranda warnings. At the hearing on this motion, Turner argued that the statements resulted from a custodial interrogation. The court rejected the defendant's argument, finding that at the time the inculpatory statements were made, the defendant "was no longer in custody and therefore no Miranda warnings were required."

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This finding made it unnecessary for the district court to decide whether the challenged statements were made in response to interrogation by the officers.

The case was then submitted for a bench trial on a stipulated record. The trial court found Turner guilty of exercising dominion and control over the handgun.

After the defendant filed his appeal, this court entered an order remanding the case to the district court to allow the court to make a factual finding on whether the defendant's statements were spontaneous or in response to interrogation by the officers. The district court, on remand, found that the defendant "volunteered" the inculpatory statements.

The appeal is now before us for resolution. There are three issues raised: (1) whether the trial court erred in denying Turner's motion to suppress; (2) whether the evidence was sufficient to support the court's determination that the defendant was guilty of the charge of felon in possession of a firearm; and (3) whether the district court's finding of guilt was contrary to the weight of the evidence.

II. Did the District Court Err in Refusing to Suppress the Incriminating Statements Made by the Defendant?

A. Scope of review. The defendant claims his alleged custodial interrogation conducted without the benefit of a Miranda warning violated his Fifth Amendment rights under the United States Constitution. See U.S. Const. amends. V, XIV. Our review of a district court's refusal to suppress statements allegedly made in violation of constitutional guarantees is de novo. See State v. Countryman, 572 N.W.2d 553, 557 (Iowa 1997). Under this review, we "make an independent evaluation of the totality of the circumstances as shown by the entire record." State v. Howard, 509 N.W.2d 764, 767 (Iowa 1993). We give deference to the district court's fact findings due to its opportunity to assess the credibility of witnesses, but we are not bound by those findings.2 See State v. Gravenish, 511 N.W.2d 379, 381 (Iowa 1994).

B. Admissibility of inculpatory statements. 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. V. This right against self-incrimination is incorporated into the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and thus applies to the States. See Malloy v. Hogan, 378 U.S. 1, 6-11, 84 S.Ct. 1489, 1492-95, 12 L.Ed.2d 653, 658-61 (1964).

In Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966), the

630 N.W.2d 607
United States Supreme Court stated that a citizen's privilege against...

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281 practice notes
  • State v. Ochoa, No. 08-0412.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • December 17, 2010
    ...rule that had been adopted by the United States Supreme Court. Cline, 617 N.W.2d at 293, abrogated on other grounds by State v. Turner, 630 N.W.2d 601, 606 n. 2 (Iowa 2001). In Cline, we cited past cases suggesting that interpretations of state constitutional law should be consistent with f......
  • State v. Eleneki, No. 25167.
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    • December 22, 2004
    ...not controlling, and the officer is not bound by the real reasons for the stop."), overruled in part not relevant, State v. Turner, 630 N.W.2d 601, 606 n. 2 (Iowa 2001); Commonwealth v. Smigliano, 427 Mass. 490, 694 N.E.2d 341, 344 (1998) ("There is no merit to the contention that......
  • Westra v. Iowa Dep't of Transp., No. 18-1050
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • June 14, 2019
    ...revocation hearing. Id.In State v. Cline , 617 N.W.2d 277, 293 (Iowa 2000) (en banc), abrogated on other grounds by State v. Turner , 630 N.W.2d 601, 606 n.2 (Iowa 2001), we declined to adopt the good faith exception to the exclusionary rule under article I, section 8, reasoning that "......
  • State v. Pals, No. 09–0064.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • October 28, 2011
    ...This review requires “an independent evaluation of the totality of the circumstances as shown by the entire record.” State v. Turner, 630 N.W.2d 601, 606 (Iowa 2001) (internal quotation marks omitted). The court gives “deference to the factual findings of the district court due to its oppor......
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285 cases
  • State v. Lyle, No. 11-1339
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • July 18, 2014
    ...article I, section 8 does not contain a good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule), abrogated on other grounds by State v. Turner, 630 N.W.2d 601, 606 n.2 (Iowa 2001). 3. Some states have limited or abolished mandatory minimums for juveniles. See, e.g., Colo. Rev. Stat. § 19-2-908 (2013......
  • State v. Lyle, No. 11–1339.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • July 18, 2014
    ...article I, section 8 does not contain a good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule), abrogated on other grounds by State v. Turner, 630 N.W.2d 601, 606 n.2 (Iowa 2001).3 Some states have limited or abolished mandatory minimums for juveniles. See, e.g., Colo.Rev.Stat. § 19-2-908 (2013) (l......
  • State v. Althaus, No. 106,813.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Kansas
    • August 2, 2013
    ...to the Fourth Amendment. See, e.g., State v. Cline, 617 N.W.2d 277, 278, 292–93 (Iowa 2000), overruled on other grounds State v. Turner, 630 N.W.2d 601, 606 (Iowa 2001); State v. Novembrino, 105 N.J. 95, 157–58, 519 A.2d 820 (1987); State v. Gutierrez, 116 N.M. 431, 432, 863 P.2d 1052 (1993......
  • State v. Pals, No. 09–0064.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • October 28, 2011
    ...This review requires “an independent evaluation of the totality of the circumstances as shown by the entire record.” State v. Turner, 630 N.W.2d 601, 606 (Iowa 2001) (internal quotation marks omitted). The court gives “deference to the factual findings of the district court due to its oppor......
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