Williams v. Brewer, Civ. No. 72-257-2.

Citation375 F. Supp. 170
Decision Date28 March 1974
Docket NumberCiv. No. 72-257-2.
PartiesRobert Anthony WILLIAMS a/k/a Anthony Erthel Williams, Petitioner, v. Lou V. BREWER, Warden of the Iowa State Penitentiary at Fort Madison, Iowa, Respondent.
CourtU.S. District Court — Southern District of Iowa


Robert Bartels, Iowa City, Iowa, for petitioner.

Richard C. Turner, Atty. Gen., Richard N. Winders, Asst. Atty. Gen., Des Moines, Iowa, for respondent.

HANSON, Chief Judge.


The Court issues this Order pursuant to the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by Robert Anthony Williams challenging his May 6, 1969 conviction of murder (§ 690.2, Code of Iowa 1966) in the District Court of Iowa in and for Polk County, Criminal No. 55805. The issues which Petitioner now is presenting to this Court were timely raised at the trial court level and on appeal to the Supreme Court of Iowa; the latter Court affirmed Petitioner's conviction in State v. Williams, 182 N.W.2d 396 (1971). Thus, there is no question that Petitioner has exhausted his available state remedies as required by 28 U. S.C. § 2254.


The central issue raised by Petitioner at trial, on appeal to the Supreme Court of Iowa, and in this Court, is whether certain statements made by Petitioner to a Des Moines police officer, Detective Leaming, during an automobile trip from Davenport, Iowa to Des Moines, Iowa—and other evidence and testimony obtained as a result of those statements —were properly admitted into evidence under the Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. In this Court, the attorneys for the State of Iowa and for the Petitioner agreed that the case would be submitted on the record of facts and proceedings in the trial court, without taking of further testimony. Based on its examination of that record, the Court makes the following findings of fact relative to the issues raised herein.

1. On December 24, 1968, a family by the name of Powers attended a wrestling tournament in the YMCA building in Des Moines, Iowa. When Pamela Powers, aged ten, failed to return from a trip to the restroom, a search was instituted, but she could not be found. YMCA personnel subsequently called the police. 182 N.W.2d at 399.

2. Suspicion rather quickly was focused on the Petitioner, who had left the YMCA in his automobile shortly after Pamela Powers' disappearance. On December 25, 1968, Petitioner's car was found in Davenport, Iowa, approximately 160 miles east of Des Moines, and a search was instituted for him in the Davenport area by the Davenport and Des Moines police and by the Iowa Bureau of Criminal Investigation. 182 N. W.2d at 399. At about this time, a warrant for Petitioner's arrest, on a charge of child-stealing, was issued and filed in Polk County. R. at 16, 108.

3. On the morning of December 26, 1968, Petitioner called his Des Moines attorney, Mr. Henry McKnight, from Rock Island, Illinois. Mr. McKnight advised Petitioner to surrender himself to the Davenport police. 182 N.W.2d at 406; R. at 67.

4. At approximately 8:40 a. m. on December 26, 1968, Petitioner did surrender himself to the Davenport police. He was placed under arrest and booked by the Davenport police. At 11:00 a. m. on the same day, Petitioner was arraigned before a state court judge in Davenport as a fugitive to be held on the Polk County warrant, and notified of the charges against him. R. at 16-17.

5. Following his telephone conversation with Petitioner on December 26, 1968, Mr. McKnight proceeded to the Des Moines Police Department, where he talked to various officials, including Detective Leaming, about the Petitioner's proposed surrender and his subsequent transportation to Des Moines. 182 N. W.2d at 399, 406; R. at 10, 25, 128-29. While Mr. McKnight was at the Des Moines Police Department, he received a long distance telephone call from Petitioner, who at that time was in custody in Davenport. Mr. McKnight told Petitioner that he would be picked up in Davenport, that he would not be mistreated or grilled, that they would talk it over in Des Moines, and that Petitioner should make no statement until he reached Des Moines. 182 N.W.2d at 399, 406; R. at 11, 21, 67. Mr. McKnight's portion of this conversation was carried on in the presence of Chief of Police Wendell Nichols and Detective Leaming. 182 N.W.2d at 406; R. at 11, 25, 116, 130.

6. As a result of these conversations, it was agreed that Detective Leaming would go to Davenport to pick up Petitioner, without Mr. McKnight, and bring him directly back to Des Moines. R. at 11, 131. At this time there also was an agreement between Mr. McKnight and the police that the Petitioner would not be questioned until after he had returned to Des Moines and consulted with Mr. McKnight. R. at 34.

7. On December 26, 1968, Detective Leaming drove from Des Moines to Davenport to pick up the Petitioner; Detective Leaming was accompanied by Detective Arthur Nelson. 182 N.W.2d at 399; R. at 113.

8. While he was in Davenport, the Petitioner consulted with a local attorney, Mr. Thomas Kelly, about his situation. Petitioner had asked to talk with Mr. Kelly, and their conversations were carried on in the context of an attorney-client relationship. While Petitioner was in Davenport, Mr. Kelly in effect acted as his attorney. R. at 109-110, 67-68, 180-184. Mr. Kelly advised Petitioner to remain silent until he got to Des Moines and talked with Mr. McKnight. 182 N.W.2d at 406; R. at 23-24.

9. Detectives Leaming and Nelson arrived in Davenport at about noon on December 26. After meeting Mr. Kelly and being informed that Petitioner was eating lunch, Leaming and Nelson went to lunch. When they returned at approximately 1:00 p. m., they had some conversation with Mr. Kelly and Petitioner. At this time Detective Leaming gave Petitioner his Miranda warnings; these warnings were not repeated during the trip to Des Moines. When Detective Leaming gave these Miranda warnings, he told Petitioner that they would be "visiting" during the trip to Des Moines. 182 N.W.2d at 406; R. at 26, 114.

10. After the Miranda warnings referred to in the preceding paragraph were given, Petitioner again conferred privately with Mr. Kelly, whom Detective Leaming understood to be acting as Petitioner's attorney (in addition to Mr. McKnight). R. at 26-27, 114-115. After this conference, Mr. Kelly again spoke with Detective Leaming. Mr. Kelly told Detective Leaming that it was his understanding that Petitioner was not to be questioned until he got to Des Moines; when Detective Leaming expressed some reservations, Mr. Kelly stated that that understanding should be carried out. R. at 21, 182-83.

11. Before Detective Leaming left for Des Moines with the Petitioner, Mr. Kelly asked Detective Leaming that he be permitted to ride along in the police car to Des Moines. This request was refused by Detective Leaming. 182 N. W.2d at 406; R. at 183.

12. On several occasions during the trip to Des Moines, and after the aforementioned Miranda warnings were given in Davenport, Petitioner told Detective Leaming that he would talk to him after he returned to Des Moines and consulted with his attorney, Mr. McKnight. 182 N.W.2d at 406; R. at 27-28, 30, 33. The Miranda warnings were never repeated during the trip itself. R. at 133.

13. The Petitioner had been a patient at the State Mental Hospital at Fulton, Missouri for three years prior to his escape on July 6, 1968. Petitioner also was a person of a deeply religious nature. These facts were known to the Des Moines police, including Detective Leaming, at the time the Petitioner returned to Des Moines from Davenport with Detective Leaming. 182 N.W.2d at 406; R. at 67, 119, 133, 148.

14. Following the giving of Miranda warnings by Detective Leaming, Petitioner did not state that he wished to waive his Miranda rights. In fact, as noted in Paragraph 12, supra, Petitioner indicated that he did not wish to talk on the trip by stating that he would talk after he got to Des Moines and spoke with Mr. McKnight. Nevertheless, while Detective Nelson drove, Detective Leaming carried on a conversation with Petitioner during the trip concerning religion, Petitioner's reputation, and various other topics, including Petitioner's friends, Petitioner's Reverend, a Mr. Searcy, whether the police had checked for fingerprints in Petitioner's room, the intelligence of other people, police procedures, organizing youth groups, singing, playing a piano, playing an organ, "and this sort of thing." 182 N. W.2d at 406-407; R. at 119. At about this time, Detective Leaming also testified that he told Petitioner that he did not hate him or wish to kill him; that "I myself had had religious training and background as a child, and that I would probably come more near praying for him than I would to abuse him or strike him"; and that he was a good police officer and would protect Petitioner and not allow anyone to molest or abuse him. R. at 118-19; T. at 222.

15. According to Detective Leaming's own testimony, the specific purpose of this conversation was to obtain statements and information from the Petitioner concerning the missing girl. In this regard, the following testimony by Detective Leaming on cross-examination during pre-trial proceedings in the Polk County District Court is particularly relevant:

Q. Now, when you left, just before you left, do you remember we had parted greetings and didn't you say, `I'll go get him and bring him right back here to Des Moines'? A. Yes, sir.
Q. You said that to me, didn't you? A. Yes, sir.
Q. Knowing that you were dealing with a person from a mental hospital, did you say to him, you don't have to tell me this information, did you say that to him out there on the highway? A. What information?
Q. The information that he gave you, the defendant gave you, you didn't say that to him, did you? A. No, sir.
Q. In fact, Captain, whether he was a mental patient or not, you were trying to get all the information

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  • Nix v. Williams
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • June 11, 1984
    ...Southern District of Iowa. That court concluded that the evidence in question had been wrongly admitted at Williams' trial, Williams v. Brewer, 375 F.Supp. 170 (1974); a divided panel of the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit agreed. 509 F.2d 227 We granted certiorari, 423 U.S. 1031, 9......
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