John C. DePrez, IV
Brown Linder & DePrez, P.A.
Stubbs & Meltzer
Attorneys for Appellee
Jeffrey A. Modisett
Attorney General of Indiana
Arthur Thaddeus Perry
Deputy Attorney General
Appellant (Defendant below),
STATE OF INDIANA, Appellee (Plaintiff below ).
) Supreme Court No.
Defendant was arrested by the Lawrence Police Department on April 3, 1997.
Detective Don Deputy initially questioned Defendant. Deputy advised Defendant of his Miranda
rights and the advisement was taped. Deputy noticed an odor of alcohol
on Defendant and Defendant said that he had been drinking. Deputy did
not believe Defendant was intoxicated.
Next, Lieutenant William Dwenger of the Shelbyville Police department questioned Defendant. Dwenger
also advised Defendant of his Miranda rights and Defendant said he understood them.
Dwenger did notice an odor of alcohol and discussed it with Defendant.
Dwenger formed a very strong opinion that Defendant was not intoxicated.
Defendant also admitted smoking marijuana prior to being taken into custody. In
the statement given to Dwenger, Defendant confessed to shooting the victim.
On October 14, 1997, Defendant filed a motion to suppress his statement, arguing
that a knowing and voluntary waiver of Miranda rights did not precede his
statement. On November 4, 1997, the trial court held a hearing on
Defendants motion to suppress. On November 26, 1997, the trial court denied
The State charged Defendant with Murder. See footnote On February 11, 1998, a jury found Defendant guilty. The trial court imposed a sentence of 63 years for murder and five years for the use of a firearm during the commission of a felony. See footnote Defendant appeals.
We will recite additional facts as needed.
The trial court required the State to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that
ndant voluntarily and intelligently waived his constitutional rights and that his confession
was voluntarily given before his statement would be admitted into evidence. The
trial court determined that the State sustained that burden and denied Defendants motion
to suppress. The decision whether to admit a confession is within the
discretion of the trial judge and will not be reversed absent an abuse
of that discretion. Jones v. State, 655 N.E.2d 49, 56 (Ind. 1995),
rehg denied. When reviewing a challenge to the trial courts decision to
admit a confession, we do not reweigh the evidence but instead examine the
record for substantial, probative evidence of voluntariness. Id.
Judge Russell Sanders made an especially careful and complete set of findings and
conclusions. The trial court first addressed the issue of Defendants waiver of
Miranda rights and found that the State established that the appropriate Miranda rights
were read and Defendant knowingly and voluntarily waived those rights. The admissibility
of a confession is controlled by determining from the totality of the circumstances
whether the confession was made voluntarily and was not induced by violence, threats,
or other improper influences that overcame the defendant=s free will. See Wilcoxen
v. State, 619 N.E.2d 574, 577 (Ind. 1993). The same test determines
whether Miranda rights were voluntarily waived. See Gregory v. State, 540 N.E.2d
585, 592 (Ind. 1989). Thus, the voluntariness of a defendant=s waiver of
rights is judged by the totality of the circumstances. See Allen v.
State, 686 N.E.2d 760, 770 (Ind. 1997), cert. denied, 525 U.S. 1073 (1999).
An express written or oral waiver of rights is not necessary to
establish a waiver of Miranda rights. See Horan v. State, 682 N.E.2d
502, 510 (Ind. 1997), rehg denied.
As noted by the trial court, the State established that
Miranda rights were
read on at least two occasions. Defendant repeatedly said that he understood
that he did not have to speak to the police. The record
shows the police advised Defendant of his Miranda rights and Defendant stated he
understood those rights and wished to give a statement. Defendant gave a
statement to both detectives after acknowledging his rights and his understanding of those
rights. The trial court noted that Defendants conversations with Dwenger regarding Miranda
rights were clear and detailed and he displayed an articulate and express understanding
that he was waiving his rights. There was no evidence of violence,
threats, promises, or improper influence. From this evidence, the trial court could
properly conclude that Defendant knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waived his Miranda rights.
Next, the trial court looked at Defendant
=s assertion that his intoxication rendered his
statement involuntary. The trial judge concluded that the effects of alcohol, if
any, did not rise to the level necessary to prevent Defendant from giving
an admissible confession. As the trail court noted, it is only when
an accused is so intoxicated that he is unconscious as to what he
is saying that his confession will be inadmissible. Williams v. State, 489
N.E.2d 53, 56 (Ind. 1986) (quoting Bundy v. State, 427 N.E.2d 1077, 1079
(Ind. 1981) (citing in turn Bean v. State, 267 Ind. 528, 532, 371
N.E.2d 713, 715 (1978))). Intoxication of a lesser degree goes only to
the weight to be given to the statement and not its admissibility.
In this case, the trial judge noted that far from being unconscious, Defendant
splayed awareness, organized thinking, and an understanding of what was transpiring. The
trial court considered several aspects of evidence with regard to Defendants intoxication.
This evidence included a reading of the statements, which Defendant gave to Deputy,
Dwenger, and other officers. The trial court also listened to the tape
recordings of those statements and determined there was little difference between Defendants voice
on the tape and his testimony at the hearing. It considered the
testimony given by Defendant and the arresting and interviewing officers at the hearing.
In that testimony, the arresting officer and the three interviewing officers all
testified that Defendant was sober. The record shows that when asked if
he was sober by Dwenger, the Defendant responded, yeh. The trial court
made extensive inquiries into the available evidence and concluded that the evidence established
beyond a reasonable doubt that Defendant understood the Miranda rights and knowingly and
intelligently waived those rights despite the fact that he had been drinking and
smoking marijuana earlier in the day.
On the basis of the foregoing, we find that the trial court did
not abuse its discretion in denying Defendants motion to suppress.
SHEPARD, C.J., and DICKSON, BOEHM and RUCKER, JJ., concur.