State v Walton, 98-00329

CourtSupreme Court of Tennessee
Writing for the CourtMaynard
Citation41 S.W.3d 75
Docket Number98-00329
PartiesSTATE OF TENNESSEE v. TIMOTHY WALTONIN THE SUPREME COURT OF TENNESSEE AT JACKSON

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
TIMOTHY WALTON

No. W1998-00329-SC-R11-CD

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF TENNESSEE AT JACKSON

November 16, 2000 Session

Filed March 15, 2001

Appeal by Permission from the Court of Criminal Appeals Circuit Court for Dyer County: No. C97-205

Hon. R. Lee Moore, Jr., Judge

The primary issue in this case is whether the appellee was subjected to custodial interrogation in violation of the requirements of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), when officers questioned him in response to his volunteered, but unwarned, statements. The Dyer County Circuit Court found that although the appellee was placed in custody, his statements to the police as to the location of stolen property were spontaneous, voluntary, and not the result of interrogation. The appellee then entered a conditional guilty plea, reserving for appeal the question of whether he was subjected to custodial interrogation. The Court of Criminal Appeals reversed, finding that the greater weight of the evidence established that the appellee's statements were a result of interrogation, and it suppressed the appellee's statements and the physical evidence derived from his statements. The State then requested permission to appeal to this Court on the issue of whether the appellee was subjected to custodial interrogation in violation of Miranda. We agree with the intermediate court that the appellee was placed in custody and subjected to interrogation, but we decline to suppress the physical evidence recovered by the officers absent any evidence that his statements were the product of actual coercion. Because the appellee's plea was made with the expectation that his statements were admissible as evidence, we remand this case to the Dyer County Circuit Court to give the appellee the opportunity to withdraw his plea should he so desire.

Tenn. R. App. P. 11 Application for Permission to Appeal; Judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals Affirmed in Part, Reversed in Part; Case Remanded

WILLIAM M. BARKER, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which E. RILEY ANDERSON, C.J., and FRANK F. DROWOTA, III, and JANICE M. HOLDER, JJ., joined. ADOLPHO A. BIRCH, JR., J., filed a concurring/dissenting opinion.

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; and Mark E. Davidson, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, State of Tennessee.

Charles S. Kelly, Dyersburg, Tennessee, for the appellee, Timothy Walton.

OPINION

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

On May 22, 1997, two federal postal inspectors and three officers with the Dyer County Sheriff's Department went to the home of the appellee, Timothy Walton, to discuss recent post-office burglaries in Finley, Tennessee. The inspectors apparently believed the appellee either participated in the burglaries or otherwise possessed relevant information. Upon arriving at the appellee's residence in three separate police cars, both postal inspectors and two of the officers approached the appellee, who was on his porch. The third officer, Officer Burns, then went behind the trailer, ostensibly to "secure the rear of the house for the officer's safety." While in the back yard, Burns noticed a path leading from the trailer into the woods, and following it, he discovered a small clearing containing about ten or fifteen marijuana plants. Burns also discovered several propane heaters located not far from the appellee's property.

Officer Burns returned to the trailer and notified the other officers and the postal inspectors of his discovery, and one of the officers and both postal inspectors went to inspect the plants and heaters. The appellee, who denied ownership of the plants or heaters, remained near the trailer with Officer Johnson, "talking with him." At some point while the other officers were photographing the scene and "recovering [the] evidence," Johnson requested that the appellee accompany the officers and the postal inspectors to the sheriff's department to further discuss the Finley post-office burglaries. The appellee agreed to go, and although the officers informed him that he was not under arrest for the marijuana or for any other crime, Johnson handcuffed the appellee and placed him in the back of Officer McCreight's unmarked patrol car. Apparently, the purpose of handcuffing the appellee was for the officers' security, as the patrol car was not equipped with a security cage.

Although the record is unclear as to precisely when the statements were made, at some point the appellee mentioned the name of a Charles Thompson, who apparently informed the police of the appellee's role in the post-office burglaries, and said "I know what lies and things that [Thompson has been] telling on me. And I've got some information where we can get him."(FN1) About the time that the parties prepared to go back to the sheriff's department, the appellee claimed to know the location of several stolen items that Thompson had given him "from some other places." Upon hearing this, Johnson then asked the appellee whether he could show the property to the officers, and the appellee responded, "Yes, I'll take you to it right now."

Once in the patrol car with Officers Johnson and McCreight, the appellee gave the officers directions to a point along a public road where a piece of plastic had been tied to a barbed wire fence. The appellee told the officers to stop, and the officers allowed him, with his handcuffs still on, to get out of the car and venture about thirty feet down into a ravine. The appellee returned a few minutes later carrying a plastic garbage bag containing a computer, a monitor, and a keyboard. The officers, who later testified that they had no knowledge of a stolen computer before the appellee brought it to them, placed the items in the trunk of the patrol car.

At this point, the appellee then told the officers that he knew where more property was located, and he gave the officers directions to his parents' house. Once they arrived at the house, Johnson asked, "Which way do we go from here?" The appellee responded, "Just follow me," and he took the officers into a barn where, with his handcuffs still on, he started to remove some floorboards. Johnson asked him to stop for a moment while McCreight took some pictures of the scene. When the appellee was permitted to resume, he uncovered a rifle wrapped in a pair of blue coveralls. After first holding the wrapped rifle in the air so that McCreight could take another picture, the appellee handed the rifle to Officer Johnson, who recognized it as one reported stolen from a residence in Finley. Knowing that the stolen rifle also had a scope, Johnson then asked the appellee whether "there was anything else to go with [the rifle]," to which the appellee responded that the scope to the rifle was back at his house.

The trio then returned to the appellee's residence, and the appellee invited the officers into his house and back to his bedroom. With the handcuffs still on, the appellee went to his bedroom closet, from which he produced the rifle scope for the officers. Apparently without any other prodding, he also produced from the closet several electric heaters and a step ladder, all items that the police later determined were stolen from the Dyersburg Warehouse. The officers then proceeded to take the appellee and all of the property back to the police station. As they were leaving, Officer Johnson told the appellee's wife that the appellee was not under arrest.

Once at the police station, the officers informed the appellee for the first time of his right to remain silent and of his right to have an attorney present. Despite the fact that Officer McCreight was aware that the appellee was illiterate, McCreight also requested that the appellee sign and date a form labeled "Admonition and Waiver," which contained a written statement of his Miranda rights and a waiver of those rights. After signing the form, the appellee gave a statement that detailed the dealings of Charles Thompson and another individual, Billy McNeely, in obtaining the stolen property. According to Officer Johnson, though, the appellee never stated that "he had anything to with [this] at all."

On August 11, 1997, the Dyer County Grand Jury returned a four-count indictment against the appellee, charging him with two counts of theft over five hundred dollars, one count of burglary, and one count of aggravated burglary. Two months later, the appellee filed a motion to suppress any statements and evidence resulting from the failure of the officers to inform the appellee of his rights under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). A hearing on the motion was held on December 18, 1997, during which the State introduced the testimony of Officers Burns, McCreight, and Johnson. The State argued that no Miranda warnings were needed in this case because the appellee was never placed in actual custody and because the appellee had spontaneously volunteered all of the information to the police without first having been questioned. Although the appellee introduced no proof himself, he argued that the police "intimidated, urged, coaxed, coerced, questioned, and interrogated" him into revealing the location of other stolen property, and that notwithstanding the officers' testimony, it was "inconceivable that the officers . . . did not ask any questions whatsoever." His counsel maintained that his incriminating statements were neither voluntary nor spontaneous.

On January 5, 1998, the trial court issued a "Memorandum Opinion and Order on Motion of Defendant to Suppress," denying the appellee's motion. The court disagreed with the State that the appellee was not placed in custody, because "[v]iewing this matter under the totality of the circumstances, . . . a reasonable person in the suspect's position would have considered himself deprived of freedom of movement to a degree associated with a formal arrest." However, the court found...

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653 practice notes
  • State v. Willis, No. E2012-01313-SC-DDT-DD
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Tennessee
    • July 6, 2016
    ...added). Whether a confession is “compelled” or involuntary is a question of fact. Sanders , 452 S.W.3d at 305 (citing State v. Walton , 41 S.W.3d 75, 81 (Tenn.2001) ; State v. Morris , 24 S.W.3d 788, 805 (Tenn.2000) ; State v. Smith , 933 S.W.2d 450, 455 (Tenn.1996) ; Self v. State , 65 Ten......
  • State v. Pruitt
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Tennessee
    • May 25, 2016
    ...the trial court's ruling on the motion to suppress.’ " State v. Garcia , 123 S.W.3d 335, 343 (Tenn. 2003) (quoting State v. Walton , 41 S.W.3d 75, 81 (Tenn. 2001) ). The prevailing party on the motion to suppress is afforded the " ‘strongest legitimate view of the evidence and all......
  • State v. Henry, No. W2016–01439–CCA–R9–CD
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Tennessee. Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee
    • September 14, 2017
    ...to the facts de novo with no presumption of correctness. State v. Montgomery, 462 S.W.3d 482, 486 (Tenn. 2015) (citing State v. Walton, 41 S.W.3d 75, 81 (Tenn. 2001) ); State v. Day, 263 S.W.3d 891, 900 (Tenn. 2008) (citing State v. Williams, 185 S.W.3d 311, 315 (Tenn. 2006) ; State v. Year......
  • State v. Climer, No. W2010–01667–SC–R11–CD.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Tennessee
    • April 19, 2013
    ...Miranda violation.” Id. at 641–42, 124 S.Ct. 2620 (internal quotation marks omitted). Similarly, this Court held in State v. Walton, 41 S.W.3d 75, 92 (Tenn.2001), that nontestimonial evidence discovered as a result of a statement elicited in violation of Miranda must be suppressed “only whe......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
653 cases
  • State v. Willis, No. E2012-01313-SC-DDT-DD
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Tennessee
    • July 6, 2016
    ...added). Whether a confession is “compelled” or involuntary is a question of fact. Sanders , 452 S.W.3d at 305 (citing State v. Walton , 41 S.W.3d 75, 81 (Tenn.2001) ; State v. Morris , 24 S.W.3d 788, 805 (Tenn.2000) ; State v. Smith , 933 S.W.2d 450, 455 (Tenn.1996) ; Self v. State , 65 Ten......
  • State v. Pruitt
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Tennessee
    • May 25, 2016
    ...the trial court's ruling on the motion to suppress.’ " State v. Garcia , 123 S.W.3d 335, 343 (Tenn. 2003) (quoting State v. Walton , 41 S.W.3d 75, 81 (Tenn. 2001) ). The prevailing party on the motion to suppress is afforded the " ‘strongest legitimate view of the evidence and all......
  • State v. Henry, No. W2016–01439–CCA–R9–CD
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Tennessee. Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee
    • September 14, 2017
    ...to the facts de novo with no presumption of correctness. State v. Montgomery, 462 S.W.3d 482, 486 (Tenn. 2015) (citing State v. Walton, 41 S.W.3d 75, 81 (Tenn. 2001) ); State v. Day, 263 S.W.3d 891, 900 (Tenn. 2008) (citing State v. Williams, 185 S.W.3d 311, 315 (Tenn. 2006) ; State v. Year......
  • State v. Climer, No. W2010–01667–SC–R11–CD.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Tennessee
    • April 19, 2013
    ...Miranda violation.” Id. at 641–42, 124 S.Ct. 2620 (internal quotation marks omitted). Similarly, this Court held in State v. Walton, 41 S.W.3d 75, 92 (Tenn.2001), that nontestimonial evidence discovered as a result of a statement elicited in violation of Miranda must be suppressed “only whe......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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