On New Year’s Eve 1997, Officer Clyde Whitfield of the Amory Police Department saw Dameon Hampton, a passenger in a car being driven by George Thompson, leave his car, fire a gun, then get back into his car. After Hampton and Thompson drove away, Officer Whitfield pursued and stopped the car. Upon the stopping, Thompson quickly got out of the car to talk with the officer; however, Officer Whitfield saw a gun on the passenger’s side of the car and ordered Hampton out of the car, too.
The officer searched Hampton and found a container with forty rocks of cocaine in Hampton’s front pants pocket. Hampton admitted the cocaine was found on his person, but he claims it was found not in his pants, but in the jacket he was wearing, which belonged to Thompson, not Hampton. Also, as Hampton raised his arms to place them on the car, a gun from under his arm fell to the ground.
Brien Chamblee is an investigator for the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office. On September 29, 1998, Chamblee was at the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office where Hampton was being held in a witness detention room. Hampton motioned for Chamblee to come over to the window in his room. Hampton then held up a copy of his indictment and said he had questions about the paperwork in his case and asked whether Chamblee was the district attorney. Chamblee explained he was an investigator for the district attorney and told Hampton to call his own attorney if he had questions about his indictment. At that point Hampton volunteered that he was the person named in the indictment and that the dope belonged to him.
Hampton was convicted of possession of cocaine and of having a firearm in his possession at the time of the commission of the offense or at the time of the arrest and sentenced to six years. On appeal, he argued his statement should have been suppressed. MCOA affirmed.
Hampton claims Chamblee had a duty to stop Hampton from making statements without Hampton’s attorney being present. Hampton also claims Chamblee elicited the statements from Hampton in that Chamblee responded to Hampton’s gestures and opened the door to the room in which Hampton was being detained. Chamblee testified to the contrary stating witnesses often had to make such gestures or motions to be let out to use the restroom or to request conferences with their attorneys or for various other reasons.
Chamblee claims he told Hampton to talk with his attorney, but Hampton claims he was not told this. When faced with conflicting evidence, we let the jury decide who to believe. We presume the jury weighed the conflicting testimonies of Hampton and Officer Chamblee; thus, we will not disturb the jury’s finding on this matter.
Hampton also argues he was in custody at the time of this incident and that he was entitled to be informed that any statements could be used against him and that he should be allowed to consult his attorney. However, this Court has found such incidents do not require being read Miranda rights again. Prosecutors may not use statements obtained during custodial interrogations unless procedural safeguards are maintained to secure the privilege against self-incrimination. Custodial interrogation is defined as “questioning initiated by law enforcement officers after a person has been taken into custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom of action in any significant way.”
The initiation of questioning of the suspect who is in custody by law enforcement officers triggers the need for Miranda; therefore, if a suspect in custody initiates the conversation, that statement may be admissible as freely and voluntarily given even without prior Miranda warnings. See MCOA Alexander.
In the present case, Hampton initiated the conversation after he motioned to Chamblee to come over to his room. According to Alexander, there was no need to re-Mirandize Hampton. Hampton’s statement was freely and voluntarily given as Chamblee did not initiate the conversation. We find no error in the trial court’s admitting Hampton’s statement that the “dope was his.”