admissibility of confession hinges on degree of intoxication


Shannon Baggett and his girlfriend, Donna Timmons, were at Baggett’s grandmother’s home when he became enraged and attacked Timmons. Baggett’s grandmother, Marie Baggett, witnessed the entire encounter. Baggett strangled, beat, kicked, and stomped Timmons, and stabbed her over 80 times with a screwdriver.

Baggett gave a statement saying he then took mercy on her because she was suffering and retrieved a knife from the kitchen with which he stabbed her approximately ten times. Timmons died as a result of her injuries.

The State called numerous witnesses whose testimony established chronologically the events surrounding the murder. Russell Bodie, who had seen Baggett and Timmons earlier that day, and the grandmother who witnessed the murder both testified. The law enforcement officers who investigated the murder and the physician who performed the autopsy all testified.

The State also introduced into evidence two tape-recorded statements made by Baggett to officers the day after the murder.

Baggett was convicted of murder, and sentenced to life. On appeal, he argued he was intoxicated during his first statement. MSC affirmed.


Baggett challenges the veracity of the police officers’ testimony that they never smelled alcohol even though he had been drinking heavily the day of the murder and since he was drinking a beer when the first officer arrived at the home. However, the police chief testified that he attributed Baggett’s slurred speech to the fact that he was extremely emotional and crying during the interrogation.

Additionally, Baggett points to the difference in the first signature and the second signature as indicative of intoxication, and also claims his responses in the first interview, as reflected in the transcript and on the tape, clearly show his intoxication. Baggett also denied any memory of signing the waiver.

In O’Halloran, we said that intoxication does not automatically render a confession involuntary. The admissibility of a confession depends upon the degree of intoxication.

Three officers testified at the suppression hearing about Baggett’s appearance and actions the night of the murder. The arresting officer mentioned that Baggett had a beer in his hand when the officer arrived at the crime scene. On cross-examination of that officer, Baggett’s attorney did not ask any questions about intoxication, except to just verify that Baggett had a beer in his hand.

The jailer was asked only three questions about the possibility that Baggett was intoxicated, and responded that he did not recall any smell of alcohol or slurred speech, but that Baggett was crying and carrying on and very emotional. He also stated that Baggett said he’d been drinking all day.

The third officer, on cross- examination, stated that he did not smell alcohol, and that Baggett did not appear to be under the influence of alcohol, although he was very emotional and crying. Two pictures were introduced at the hearing showing Baggett asleep on the booking bench still handcuffed, and the defense attorney asked the jailer “Did he [Baggett] eventually pass out or go to sleep there?” and the jailer responded that Baggett went to sleep.

The evidence before the trial court concerning the degree of Baggett’s intoxication does not indicate such a degree of intoxication as to render the confession and the waiver involuntary. Under this high standard of review, there is insufficient evidence to reverse the trial court’s decision as contrary to the overwhelming weight of the evidence.

Next Baggett argues that the second statement was merely a reiteration of the first and thus should also be excluded. Baggett further argues the second statement is poisonous fruit of the first statement, that it contains questions which reiterate or expound on information obtained during the first statement and for that reason should also be excluded.

Although Baggett spontaneously stated to several people to whom he talked the night of the murder that he had killed his “old lady because she was f—— around on him”, there was no evidence that anyone asked him questions about what he had done without first properly advising him of his Miranda rights. The first statement was not illegally obtained; therefore, the second statement is not tainted.