ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE:
KELLY N. BRYAN STEVE CARTER
Public Defender Attorney General of Indiana
ZACHARY J. STOCK
Deputy Attorney General
DELBERT D. FURNISH, III ) ) Appellant-Defendant, ) ) vs. ) No. 18A02-0203-CR-199 ) STATE OF INDIANA, ) ) Appellee-Plaintiff. )
OPINION - FOR PUBLICATION
Tr. p. 75.
Furnish argues that at the time he made the
statement, he had not been advised of his Miranda rights and had not
made a knowing and intelligent waiver of his right to counsel; therefore, his
statement was unlawfully obtained and should not have been admitted at trial.
The admissibility of evidence is within the sound discretion of the trial court
and will not be disturbed absent a showing that the trial court abused
its discretion. Wright v. State, 766 N.E.2d 1223, 1229 (Ind. Ct. App.
2002) (citation omitted).
The Fifth Amendment provides that [n]o person . . . shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law. U.S. Const. Amend V.
Cognizant of the matrix of values safeguarded by the Fifth Amendment, the U.S. Supreme Court in Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S. Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966), announced broad prophylactic measures to protect citizens interrogated while in custody. Miranda requires defendants to be adequately informed of their right to remain silent, that their statements could be used against them at trial, of their right to an attorney, and that the state will appoint an attorney for the defendant if he cannot afford one. The purpose of requiring the Miranda warnings before custodial interrogation is to combat state-sanctioned coercion.
Allen v. State, 686 N.E.2d 760, 769 (Ind. 1997) (internal citations omitted). Statements that are the product of custodial interrogation prior to the advisement of the Fifth Amendment guarantee against self-incrimination are generally inadmissible. Bailey v. State, 763 N.E.2d 998, 1001 (Ind. 2002) (citing Miranda, 384 U.S. at 444). A police officer is only required to give Miranda warnings when a defendant is both in custody and subject to interrogation. State v. Linck, 708 N.E.2d 60, 62 (Ind. Ct. App. 1999), trans. denied. As Furnish was in handcuffs at the time, the State does not deny that Furnish was in custody.
[N]ot every question a police officer asks a person in custody constitutes an interrogation. Murrell v. State, 747 N.E.2d 567, 573 (Ind. Ct. App. 2001), trans. denied (citing Boarman v. State, 509 N.E.2d 177, 180-81 (Ind. 1987)). Interrogation has been defined to include both express questioning of the defendant and words or actions on the part of the police that the police should know are reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response from the defendant. Linck, 708 N.E.2d at 62 (citing Curry v. State, 643 N.E.2d 963, 977 (Ind. Ct. App. 1994), trans. denied (citing Rhode Island v. Innis, 446 U.S. 291, 300-01 (1980))). See footnote
Our federal courts have failed to reach a consensus regarding the application of the Innis interrogation test taking the following approaches when interpreting the test: 1) the objective test: courts applying this test usually ask whether a reasonable objective observer would believe that the encounter [between the officer and suspect] was reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response from the suspect[;] 2) an understanding of Innis as an objective test, which also includes a consideration of the subjective intent of the police officer; 3) a subjective test which focuses on a suspects perspective; and 4) a hybrid test combining both an objective and subjective inquiry under which both the suspects perceptions and the officers intent are relevant to the inquiry. Alexander S. Helderman, Article, Revisiting Rhode Island v. Innis: Offering a New Interpretation of the Interrogation Test, 33 Creighton L. Rev. 729, 739-44 (2000) (internal citations omitted). In determining whether a custodial interrogation has occurred, the Seventh Circuit has applied the subjective test focusing on the suspects perspective. See Whitehead v. Cowan, 263 F.3d 708, 718-19 (7th Cir. 2001), cert. denied. See footnote
Indiana courts have not expressly indicated how the Innis test should be applied and have simply focused their analysis on whether the officers statement or conduct was reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response. See e.g. Alford v. State, 699 N.E.2d 247, 250 (Ind. 1998); Wright, 766 N.E.2d at 1231; Linck, 708 N.E.2d at 63; Curry, 643 N.E.2d at 977. However, in Carter v. State, 634 N.E.2d 830 (Ind. Ct. App. 1994), our court indicated that the Innis definition of interrogation focuses on the perceptions of the suspect, rather than the intent of the police. Id. at 834 (citing Innis, 446 U.S. at 301).
Additionally, our courts have recognized that exceptions to Miranda exist when officers are concerned that a weapon remains undiscovered or are concerned with locating and aiding a possible crime victim. See Bailey, 763 N.E.2d at 1001-02. Also, routine administrative questions such as name, address, height, and weight are considered within a routine booking exception and are removed from the requirements for Miranda. Wright, 766 N.E.2d at 1231 (citing Loving v. State, 647 N.E.2d 1123, 1126 (Ind. 1995)); see also Serano v. State, 555 N.E.2d 487, 493 (Ind. Ct. App. 1990), trans. denied (citation omitted) (Police officers are not required to give Miranda warnings prior to asking routine questions regarding a person's identity.). Finally, it is clear that Miranda is not violated if the suspect initiates conversation with a police officer and the officer does nothing more than provide a direct answer to a suspect's unsolicited inquiry. See Broome v. State, 687 N.E.2d 590, 599 (Ind. Ct. App. 1997), vacated in part & affd in part by 694 N.E.2d 280 (Ind. 1998) See footnote (citation omitted). Initially, we note that Officer ODells statement does not fall clearly within one of these exceptions to Miranda.
While conceding that Furnish was in custody at the time the exchange between Furnish and Officer ODell occurred, the State argues that in making the statement damn, Delbert, whered you get all the money, Officer ODell was not attempting to elicit an incriminating response from Furnish, but was merely making an observation. The State also argues that the facts and circumstances of this case are analogous to those in Johnson v. State, 380 N.E.2d 1236 (Ind. 1978).
In Johnson, three police officers were investigating a shooting and were informed by a witness at the scene that Johnson was responsible for the shooting. Id. at 1239. The witness gave the officers Johnsons address, and they found him sitting on the front porch of the house with blood on his face. Id. One of the officers then asked Johnson [w]hat happened?, and he replied that he had shot a man and wanted to turn himself in. Id. The officer immediately read him his Miranda rights, after which, Johnson gave the officers a full confession. Id. On appeal, Johnson argued that the officers query what happened?, constituted a custodial interrogation. Id. at 1240. Our supreme court determined that in the context in which the query was made, where the officers had reason to suspect that Johnson was dangerous and it appeared that Johnson had just been in a fight because there was blood on his face, the officers opening remark was more in the nature of a greeting intended more for its calming effect than for obtaining an admission. Id. Therefore, the court determined that Johnsons response was a voluntary statement unsolicited by the police, particularly where Johnson continued to cooperate with the officers after he was given a full Miranda advisement. Id. at 1240-41. The fact that the officer did not intend to initiate a response to interrogation is evidenced by his action in stopping [Johnson] until he had advised him of his rights and determined that he was willingly and voluntarily making a statement. Id. at 1241.
The State argues that, like the facts in Johnson where the officers query was prompted by the blood on Johnsons face, in this case, Officer ODell did not intend to elicit a response and his statement was prompted by the amount of money being removed from Furnishs boot. The State contends the phrasing of the statement itself evinces its observational rather than inquisitorial quality. The use of the expletive demonstrates the statement was a rhetorical question expressing ODells amazement that multiple bundles of money had been shoved into Defendants boot. Br. of Appellee at 6. The State also notes Officer ODells testimony at the suppression hearing where he testified that he did not expect that Furnish would make an incriminating response. Officer ODell also stated, I was basically making more of a statement than anything. Tr. p. 23.
Furnish argues that in determining whether Officer ODells statement constitutes an interrogation, it is his perceptions, rather than the intent of the police, which controls. See Carter, 634 N.E.2d at 834. Furnish contends that due to the fact that he was under arrest, had been searched, and was obviously in trouble with the law, Officer ODells question was investigatory in nature particularly considering the fact that the police had no idea that the Save-[O]n Liquor store had been burglarized. Br. of Appellant at 9-10. Furnish argues that Officer ODell was trying to discover where Furnish had obtained the wrapped currency and why he ran from the officers. Therefore, Furnish contends that the question does constitute an interrogation, and his response, given before he was Mirandized, was unlawfully obtained and should not have been admitted at trial. We agree.
Contrary to the States argument, the facts of this case are distinguishable from the facts in Johnson because the police officers question in Johnson was prompted by a safety concern about blood on the defendants face. In addition, unlike the facts in this case, the defendant in Johnson was not in handcuffs at the time the question was asked. Most importantly, in Johnson, our supreme court determined that the defendants statement was voluntary in large part because he continued to cooperate with police after he was Mirandized.
It is reasonable to assume that when Officer ODell made the statement to Furnish, ODell had reason to believe that Furnish had committed a crime, in light of the fact that Furnish ran from and lied to the police, and that the money pulled from Furnishs boots was wrapped in bank wrappers.See footnote Under the facts apparent at that time, Officer ODell should have known that his statement was reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response. Therefore, we hold that under these facts and circumstances, the trial court abused its discretion when it admitted Furnishs statement into evidence at trial over objection.
However, the State contends that even if the trial court abused its discretion when it admitted Furnishs statement at trial, the error was harmless. [S]tatements obtained in violation of Miranda and erroneously admitted are subject to harmless error analysis. Morales v. State, 749 N.E.2d 1260, 1267 (Ind. Ct. App. 2001). If the conviction is supported by substantial independent evidence of guilt that satisfies the court on appeal that there is no substantial likelihood the challenged evidence contributed to the conviction, the improper admission of evidence is harmless. Id. A federal constitutional error is reviewed de novo and must be harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. Id. (citing Alford, 699 N.E.2d at 251 (quoting Chapman v. California, 386 U.S. 18, 24 (1967))). The court must find that the error did not contribute to the verdict, that is, that the error was unimportant in relation to everything else the jury considered on the issue in question. Id. Finally, [a]dmission of a confession is harmless if it does not contribute to the conviction. Morgan v. State, 759 N.E.2d 257, 262 (Ind. Ct. App. 2001) (citation omitted).
The State relies on the following evidence admitted at trial to support its argument that the admission of Furnishs statement was harmless error: 1) Officer ODell saw Furnish running away from the Save-On Liquor store; 2) it was later determined that the Save-On was broken into and the stores backup money was missing; 3) the backup money was in one, five, and ten dollar bill denominations and the money found in Furnishs boots consisted of stacks of money in small denominations wrapped in bank wrappers; and, 4) Furnishs brother was aware of the location of the backup money. Although this evidence is significant, the only direct evidence that Furnish committed the burglary at the Save-On liquor store was his own statement, and we cannot conclude that its admission did not contribute to Furnishs conviction. Therefore, given the incriminating nature of Furnishs statement to Officer ODell, the trial courts admission of the statement was not harmless error.