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14 year old confession was admissible

Facts

Two African-American males, one wearing a ski mask and one wearing a bandanna over his face, entered “Uncle Guy’s Quick Stop,” a convenience store on Edwards Street in Hattiesburg, Forrest County, Mississippi. The male wearing the ski mask was armed with a sawed-off rifle, and the one wearing a bandanna was armed with a revolver.

The male wearing the ski mask shot and killed Myong Cheon Son. The male wearing the bandanna shot and injured his sister, Myong Ja Son (“Ms. Su”). When the police arrived, Ms. Su informed them that she recognized the male wearing the ski mask because he came into the store every day. She gave a description of her assailants to the police.

She described the one who shot her brother (the one who wore the ski mask) as being an African-American male with light or blue eyes and with light skin and also told them where he lived. Though his hair was concealed by the ski mask, she further advised the officers of his distinctive hair color, described at different times as yellowish-orange or yellow and red. She related that a videotape recorded the entire incident.

From viewing the videotape, the police ascertained that the suspects were wearing light-colored, short-sleeve t-shirts and long dark pants and carrying a sawed-off rifle and a revolver. The suspects were in the store only a matter of seconds. One was wearing a ski mask, and the other had a bandanna over his face.

A police officer gave the description of the assailants to Police Officer Charles DeJarnette, who arrived late at the scene and who said he knew the suspect who shot Myong Cheon Son. He went to the house described by Ms. Su. Jerrian Horne, who was fourteen years old at the time, lived there with his father, David Anderson, and his grandmother.

Horne answered the door and, after DeJarnette asked Horne where he had been that night, Horne responded that he had been at Essie Ellis’s house with some friends. This initial contact was made at approximately 10:30, within two hours after the shootings. DeJarnette asked Horne’s father if he could take Horne to the Ellis house, and Horne’s father agreed. Horne remained in the patrol car while DeJarnette questioned Ellis, who stated that she had seen Horne earlier outside one of the windows to her house. Later, the sawed-off rifle was found underneath the same window, partially hidden.

DeJarnette arrested Horne and took him to the police station. DeJarnette called Horne’s father to tell him that his son had been arrested. Horne’s father came to the police station but never requested to see his son and Horne never requested to see his father. DeJarnette read Horne his rights, and Horne signed a waiver of rights form.

Horne informed DeJarnette that he had smoked some marijuana, but DeJarnette stated that Horne was able to understand what DeJarnette was saying and vice versa. DeJarnette again read Horne his rights, and Horne signed the waiver form. Horne gave a statement to DeJarnette, which was later reduced to writing. Then Horne “confirmed his statement” while he was being videotaped. All of these interviews occurred within hours of the shootings.

Horne was convicted of aggravated assault and capital murder and sentenced to life. On appeal, he argued due to his age and intoxication, his statement should have been suppressed. MSC affirmed. (Spann was another individual involved).

Analysis

Horne contends that, as a result of his age and intoxication, he was unable to give a knowing and intelligent waiver of his rights.

In Dancer, we said the general rule is that for a confession to be admissible it must have been given voluntarily and not given because of promises, threats or inducements.

In Blue v State, 674 So. 2d 1184 (Miss. 1996), we held if the nature of the crime is one where the defendant could receive life imprisonment or death and if original jurisdiction in the case lies in the circuit court, it is not necessary that a minor have a parent present during interrogation. Horne’s age has no special bearing on his ability to be questioned without a parent and voluntary waive his rights.

Although Horne had been drinking and/or smoking marijuana prior to his arrest, Officer DeJarnette, Officer Adrian Dejuan Ratliff and Detective Richard Cox, who typed Horne’s statement, testified that he did not appear intoxicated at the time of his arrest. The evidence, including the videotape which did not depict Horne in a state of intoxication, overwhelmingly established that intoxication was not a factor when Horne gave his statements.

There is no evidence in the record that Horne was coerced, threatened or enticed into giving his statements. The record does show that Horne was advised of his Miranda rights on at least two separate occasions after he was taken into custody. He waived those rights each time he was so advised. The officers who took Horne’s statement each testified that Horne voluntarily made his statement and that no threats or promises or other form of coercion were brought to bear upon him. This evidence is supported by the videotape wherein Horne reiterated that he was cognizant of his rights, that he waived them, and that he freely and voluntarily gave the statements.

We find that, because there is substantial evidence indicating that Horne understood his rights and voluntarily waived them, the circuit court’s decision finding Horne’s confessions admissible was not in error. There is no merit to this issue.

 

https://courts.ms.gov/images/Opinions/Conv12468.pdf