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A brief pause in questioning does not require new Miranda warnings

Facts

Latashia Michelle Taylor was indicted for the capital murder of Brandee Whitehead, which occurred while Taylor was in the process of kidnaping A’Branee Whitehead, Brandee Whitehead’s infant child.

Detective Kathilee Bosarge testified that she had investigated the death of Brandee Whitehead and first spoke to Taylor on January 14, 1998, at the police department. Bosarge stated that she Mirandized Taylor by reading her her rights from a rights form, that Taylor signed a waiver of those rights, and that this was also witnessed and signed by FBI Agent Jerome Lorraine. Bosarge spoke with Taylor for about three to four hours, during which Taylor gave Bosarge information regarding a person who had supposedly given her the baby and committed the crime.

Another conversation occurred the following day which was preceded by Bosarge orally advising Taylor of her Miranda rights. When Bosarge returned from lunch later that day, she had a message that Taylor wanted to speak with her. Bosarge again orally Mirandized Taylor. The conversation revolved around some questions Taylor had regarding visiting hours. Bosarge asked Taylor if there was anything else she wanted to discuss. When Taylor indicated that she had nothing else to discuss, Bosarge discontinued the conversation and left the room.

Bosarge then advised Captain Mike Ezell that she was through. Chief Whitmore then told Bosarge that Detective Sheila Jenkins was going to question Taylor next. Less than ten minutes elapsed between the time Bosarge left the interview room and when Jenkins entered it.

When Bosarge later returned to the department she was told that Jenkins had gotten a confession from Ms. Taylor and that Taylor wanted to see her. Bosarge just walked in there where she was sitting in the same interrogation room and Taylor told her “that she had, you know, told the truth.” When Bosarge asked Taylor why she had not revealed this information to her Taylor responded that she was scared.

Jenkins testified that she passed Bosarge in the hall prior to interviewing Taylor and that Bosarge informed her that Taylor had been read her Miranda rights. Jenkins testified that Taylor appeared to be mentally competent at the time of the interview and was able to read and write. Jenkins also stated that her conversation with Taylor was lengthy and that it lasted hours.

Jenkins testified that Taylor never asked for the questioning to cease or for her lawyer. Jenkins stated that she never threatened or made any promises of help or leniency to Taylor to get her statement. Instead, Jenkins told Taylor repeatedly that she was going to jail and that she could not help her avoid incarceration.

Taylor was convicted of murder and sentenced to life. On appeal, she argued she was not properly Mirandized prior to making her confession to Jenkins and that the only time she was given sufficient Miranda warnings was when Bosarge administered them the day before the confession was given. MSC affirmed.

Analysis

The record shows that Bosarge read the Miranda warnings to Taylor and secured waiver of those rights on the first day of questioning. The following day Bosarge questioned Taylor again after orally advising her of her Miranda rights. Later that same day, Bosarge was informed that Taylor wanted to speak with her. Bosarge again presented Taylor the Miranda warnings orally.

When that conversation ended, Detective Jenkins was instructed to question Taylor. Jenkins testified that she passed Bosarge in the hall prior to interviewing Taylor and that Bosarge informed her that Taylor had been read her Miranda rights. Jenkins testified that Taylor appeared to be mentally competent at the time of the interview and was able to read and write.

Taylor’s contention that she was not properly informed of her Miranda rights is unfounded. In regard to the sufficiency of giving Miranda warnings orally and whether there is a requirement that they be in written form, this court in Davis v. State, 320 So.2d 789 (Miss. 1975) stated that we are not aware of any rule which requires that a waiver of an accused’s constitutional privileges against self- incrimination, right to counsel, etc. must be in writing and signed by the accused before inculpatory statements made by him and otherwise freely and voluntarily given are admissible in evidence.

Such a statement is admissible provided the accused has been afforded the protection of the Miranda warning and he thereafter knowingly and intelligently waives his rights and freely and voluntarily makes the statement.

Taylor asserts that the gap in time between Bosarge leaving the interview and Jenkins beginning her questioning warranted Jenkins providing Taylor with new Miranda warnings because it constituted a new questioning session. Testimony at the suppression hearing shows that this period of time was less than ten minutes in duration.

Taylor points to Underwood v. State, 708 So.2d 18 (Miss. 1998), in the hope of showing that Jenkins should have given new Miranda warnings to Taylor prior to her portion of the interview. Underwood dealt with interviews where renewal of the Miranda rights occurred on a daily basis.

This court has recently stated in Baldwin that neither Underwood nor Miranda requires that a criminal defendant be advised of his rights every time there is a brief pause in questioning. Miranda simply requires that if the individual indicates in any manner, at any time prior to or during questioning, that he wishes to remain silent, the interrogation must cease.

In the present case, the five to ten minutes that elapsed between Bosarge’s interview and Jenkins’s interview constituted a brief pause in questioning, which did not require a renewal of Miranda warnings. Additionally, Taylor had been advised of her Miranda rights three times in a period of less than twenty-four hours. Taylor was properly advised of her rights prior to making her confession.

 

https://courts.ms.gov/images/Opinions/Conv10312.pdf