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Spontaneous Statements made by arrestees before miranda are admissible

Facts

In 2003, Officer Samuel Gardner of the Jackson Police Department (JPD) responded to the home of Janice Cotton in a call for assistance. When he arrived, he saw Adrian Williard dragging Crystal Latham, Cotton’s daughter, across the street.

Gardner stated that when he exited his vehicle and attempted to separate Williard from Latham, Williard immediately told Gardner “I got two of them.” Gardner was arrested and Cotton was then found dead in the home.

Williard was Mirandized, waived, and confessed. He was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life. On appeal, he argued that he was not Mirandized on the scene when he made that statement. MCOA affirmed.

Analysis

Gardner testified that upon his arrival at the scene Williard immediately started talking. Officer Carolyn Kirkland, as well as a neighbor who witnessed the violent altercation, testified that Williard began “bragging” about harming the two women and discussing the circumstances regarding the crime once Gardner arrived on the scene.

Gardner testified that Williard continued to talk incessantly during the car ride, discussing the events and making derogatory and threatening comments about Latham. Gardner also admitted that he did not give Williard his Miranda warnings before transporting him to detectives at the JPD since Gardner did not intend to, nor did he, question Williard.

In Watson v. State, 835 So. 2d 112, (Miss. Ct. App. 2003), this court acknowledged that with regard to spontaneous statements: Any statement given freely and voluntarily without any compelling influences is, of course, admissible in evidence. The fundamental import of the privilege against self-incrimination while an individual is in custody is not whether he is allowed to talk to the police without the benefit of warnings and counsel, but whether he can be interrogated. Volunteered statements of any kind are not barred by the Fifth Amendment.

In addition, in Ricks v. State, 611 So. 2d 212 (Miss. 1992), the Mississippi Supreme Court established that a volunteered statement, voiced without prompting or interrogation, is admissible in evidence if made prior to the warning. An officer is not required to turn a “deaf ear” to such statements.

 

https://courts.ms.gov/images/Opinions/CO76014.pdf