The defendant was suspected of being a co-conspirator in a murder. During a chance encounter, an officer read the defendant his Miranda rights. The defendant refused to answer questions without his attorney present and left. Five days later, officers arrested the defendant for forgery, a crime related to the murder. The officers decided not to provide the defendant with Miranda warnings for fear that he would again refuse to speak without an attorney present. The defendant made several incriminating statements regarding the forgery but steadfastly denied involvement in the murder. After a four hour break in the interrogation, the defendant learned that his co-conspirator had cooperated with the government. He told the officers “I talked to my attorney, and I want to tell you what happened.” The officers read the defendant his Miranda rights, obtained a waiver, and the defendant provided a detailed confession.
Whether the officers’ intentional withholding of Miranda warnings during the first interrogation rendered the subsequent statement involuntarily obtained?
No. The Court found a no nexus between the unwarned statement and the warned statement that would render the second statement involuntary.
The Court distinguished this case from Missouri v. Seibert in that it did not find the “two-step interrogation technique” used in that case. “In Seibert, the suspect’s first, unwarned interrogation left ‘little, if anything, of incriminating potential left unsaid,’ making it ‘unnatural’ not to ‘repeat at the second stage what had been said before (quoting Seibert).’” In this instance, there was no confession to repeat after being provided Miranda warnings. “Four hours passed between [the defendant’s] unwarned interrogation and his receipt of Miranda rights, during which time he traveled from the police station to a separate jail and back again; claimed to have spoken to his lawyer; and learned that police were talking to his accomplice and had found [the victim’s] body. Things had changed.” As the Court found no nexus between the defendant’s “unwarned admission to forgery and his later, warned confession to murder” the confession was voluntarily obtained.
565 U.S. 23, 132 S. Ct. 26 (2011)