State v. Williams

Decision Date15 December 1970
Docket NumberNo. 53743,53743
Citation182 N.W.2d 396
PartiesSTATE of Iowa, Appellee, v. Robert Anthony WILLIAMS, a/k/a Anthony Erthel Williams, Appellant.
CourtIowa Supreme Court

Henry T. McKnight, Des Moines, for appellant.

Richard C. Turner, Atty. Gen., G. Douglas Essy, Asst. Atty. Gen., and Ray A. Fenton, Polk County Atty., Des Moines, for appellee.

LARSON, Justice.

Pursuant to indictment charging defendant with the crime of murder, in violation of sections 690.1 and 690.2 of the 1966 Code, filed in Polk County District Court on February 6, 1969, a plea of not guilty was entered and trial by jury began on April 30, 1969. A verdict of guilty was returned on May 6, and on May 14 defendant was sentenced to imprisonment for life as provided by section 690.2 of the Code. He appeals. We affirm.

As grounds for reversal appellant contends (1) that the trial court erred in overruling his motion to suppress the State's evidence offered by all witnesses as to admissions against interest, statements, demonstrations and confessions made by him while in police custody on an automobile trip from Davenport to Des Moines, Iowa, on December 26, 1968; (2) that evidence of admissions against interests, statements and confessions made by defendant should not have been admitted in evidence at the trial because it was violative of the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States and under the Constitution of the State of Iowa, and the waiver of those rights had not been demonstrated. In short, it is appellant's contention that under these constitutions and the decisions of the courts since the Escobedo and Miranda cases the State failed to sustain its burden to show the defendant voluntarily gave the officers with whom he was riding information, some of which led to the discovery of the body of the murdered child, and that he knowingly and intelligently waived his right to remain silent and to have the assistance of counsel at the time of giving that information.

We shall presently discuss the propositions advanced by appellant to sustain his contentions, but first we set out a short statement of the circumstances surrounding the crime and the apprehension, custodial treatment, and transportation of defendant to Des Moines on December 26, 1968.

On December 24, 1968, the Powers family attended a wrestling tournament in the YMCA building in Des Moines, Iowa. When Pamela Powers, age 10, failed to return from a visit to the washroom a search was started for her, but she could not be found in the building, and the police were called. About that time, or between 1 and 1:30 P.M., the defendant Williams, who had a room on the seventh floor of the building, was seen in the lobby coming from the elevator carrying some clothing and a large bundle wrapped in a blanket similar to those provided in the YMCA rooms. He spoke to several persons on the way out, explaining to one party that he was carrying a mannequin. He requested the aid of a 14-year-old boy to open first the Locust Street door and then the door to his Buick automobile parked on the south side of the street facing east. This boy testified that when the defendant Williams placed the bundle in the passenger seat he 'saw two legs in it and they were skinny and white.' Efforts by YMCA personnel to view the object were thwarted by defendant as he closed and locked his car doors and drove away. They also called for the police.

Pursuant to an A.P.B. put out by the Des Moines police department defendant's Buick car was found in Davenport, Iowa, on December 25, 1968, and a search for him in that area was made by Davenport, Des Moines, and State Bureau of Criminal Investigation officers.

On the morning of December 26 at about 8:45 A.M. Mr. McKnight, a well-known Des Moines attorney, came to Detective Leaming's office at the Des Moines police station and informed the officers present that Williams was going to surrender and there would be a telephone conversation with him at Davenport around 9 A.M. A call was received about that time from the Davenport police advising that Williams had turned himself in and, at Williams' request, he was permitted to talk to Mr. McKnight, who allegedly then told Williams not to talk until he arrived back in Des Moines and saw McKnight. Contending the officers heard that admonishment and agreed not to interrogate Williams before they arrived back in Des Moines, McKnight assured Williams he would be in the custody of good officers and would be safe. Captain Leaming and Detective Nelson were then dispatched to Davenport to bring Williams to Des Moines. On the return trip Williams made statements and revelations which became the subject of defendant's motion to suppress and the waiver issues involved herein.

I. The concept of waiver of one's constitutional rights during the various stages of the criminal process, it is said, has long been recognized by the courts. 21 Am.Jur.2d, §§ 219, 316, 317. Also see State v. McClelland, Iowa, 164 N.W.2d 189, 195; Mullaney v. State, 5 Md.App. 248, 246 A.2d 291, 301; State v. McPherson, Iowa, 171 N.W.2d 870, 873; Land v. Commonwealth, 1970, Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, 176 S.E.2d 586. Almost all of the protections which the federal and state constitutions provide for the citizen, such as the Sixth Amendment's right to counsel and the Fifth Amendment's privilege against self-incrimination, may be relinquished by him. Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694. Vol. 19, Am.Jur. Proof of Facts, Annotated, Waiver of Rights under Miranda, contains an excellent review of the entire subject, § 1, p. 3 to § 50, p. 85, inclusive. Waiver has often been defined in this regard as 'an intentional relinquishment of or abandonment of a known right or privilege.' Johnson v. Zerbst, 304 U.S. 458, 58 S.Ct. 1019, 82 L.Ed. 1461, 146 A.L.R. 357; State v. Karston, 247 Iowa 32, 72 N.W.2d 463; People v. Marsh, 14 Mich.App. 518, 165 N.W.2d 853 (1968); Babbs, Inc. v. Babb, Iowa, 169 N.W.2d 211 (1969); Broadbent v. Hegge, 44 Wis.2d 719, 172 N.W.2d 34 (1969). Miranda is not unique in its affirmation of the traditional concept of the ability and right of an accused to waive his fundamental constitutional rights with or without his counsel's consent or presence during the pre-trial stages of the criminal process. See Escobedo v. Illinois, 378 U.S. 478, 84 S.Ct. 1758, 12 L.Ed.2d 977. Nor is it especially distinctive in its specific holding that the right to counsel and the privilege against self-incrimination may be waived by an accused during the period of custodial interrogation. State v. Clough, 259 Iowa 1351, 147 N.W.2d 847; State v. Sanders, 276 N.C. 598, 174 S.E.2d 487 (1970). The Miranda decision is significant because of its acquiescence with the Escobedo rule that counsel is essential during the in-custody interrogation if he is to be of meaningful assistance to his client, because of its skeptical attitude toward what precisely is a waiver 'knowingly and intelligently' made, and because of its uncomprising delineation of the evidentiary requirements which must be met by the prosecution to 'demonstrate' a valid waiver.

Thus, the rule we draw from Miranda and subsequent high court decisions is that whenever a person is taken into custody or his freedom of action is restrained by law enforcement officers 'in any significant way' and after he has been given the required warnings, several choices or alternatives of action are open to him. (1) He may decide to waive the right to consult with and have counsel present with him during the interrogation, relinquish his privilege against self-incrimination, and respond to the questions or suggestions of the officers. Clearly, such a waiver may be made after the accused has discussed the matter with an attorney who has explained the potential ramifications of his decision. Miranda, however, does not require the accused to consult with an attorney before he makes the waiver decision. He may do so right after receiving the warnings or later and in the total absence of advice from counsel. See Miranda v. Arizona, supra, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694, at page 723; Vol. 80, Harvard Law Review, p. 204. (2) The accused, after waiving his rights and responding to some questions and giving some information, may decide to cut off the questioning and exercise his privilege of silence and his right to immediate aid of counsel. Once he has manifested that intention, further interrogation must cease until his attorney is present.

It also appears from Miranda that the accused may limit the scope and ambit of the interrogation and, when this limited waiver is enunciated, it must be respected, and of course if he is unsure of whether he should make a statement and requests the assistance of counsel, that request must be honored and further interrogation must cease until he has consulted with an attorney and thereafter consents to be questioned or voluntarily and willingly gives information. Furthermore, if he is indigent and requests counsel be appointed for him, this must be done and a reasonable opportunity afforded to confer with counsel.

Waiver, of course, may not be presumed from a silent record, but neither is an oral or written expression required. A waiver may be found from an examination of all the attendant facts and circumstances. In Johnson v. Zerbst, supra, it is stated that determination must depend on the facts and circumstances of each case. 'Despite the fact that the testimony does not show an express waiver of appellant's right to remain silent and to counsel, we hold that the totality of the circumstances--the attendant facts of the case--are such as implicitly show that appellant voluntarily and intelligently relinquished these rights when he made his incriminating admissions.' Mullaney v. State, supra, quoted with approval by us in State v. McClelland, supra at page 195 of 164 N.W.2d.

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14 cases
  • Nix v. Williams
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • June 11, 1984
    ...The jury found Williams guilty of first-degree murder; the judgment of conviction was affirmed by the Iowa Supreme Court. State v. Williams, 182 N.W.2d 396 (1970). Williams then sought release on habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa. That court......
  • Brewer v. Williams
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • March 23, 1977
    ...that Williams had 'waived his right to the presence of his counsel' on the automobile ride from Davenport to Des Moines. State v. Williams, Iowa, 182 N.W.2d 396, 402. The four dissenting justices expressed the view that 'when counsel and police have agreed defendant is not to be questioned ......
  • State v. Williams
    • United States
    • Iowa Supreme Court
    • November 14, 1979
    ...should have been suppressed. This court rejected his argument and, in a five to four decision, affirmed the conviction. State v. Williams, 182 N.W.2d 396 (Iowa 1970). Defendant then petitioned the United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa for a writ of habeas corpus. Th......
  • Knox v. Municipal Court of City of Des Moines, Polk County
    • United States
    • Iowa Supreme Court
    • April 9, 1971
    ...facts and circumstances. It may be ascertained from a person's conduct. Babb's, Inc. v. Babb, Iowa, 169 N.W.2d 211, 213; State v. Williams, Iowa, 182 N.W.2d 396, 400 and citations in each. See also United States v. Chichester, 9 Cir., 312 F.2d 275. In Hexom v. Maccabees, 140 Iowa 41, 46, 11......
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1 books & journal articles
  • Chapter 1 The Problem of Wrongful Conviction
    • United States
    • Carolina Academic Press Wrongful Conviction: Law, Science, and Policy (CAP) 2019
    • Invalid date
    ...Ann. § 8.01 (1993).[4] People v. Caruso, 164 N.E. 106 (N.Y. 1928).[5] See Brewer v. Williams, 430 U.S. 387 (1977); State v. Williams, 182 N.W.2d 396 (Iowa 1971). Following the Supreme Court's ruling, Williams was retried and once again was convicted of murder. Testimony concerning the child......

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