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clothing and statement were both voluntarily provided to police

Facts

Nathaniel Edwards, Sr. (victim) was the 89 year-old father of Nathaniel Edwards, Jr. (Edwards). Since 1998, Edwards had resided with the victim.

In 2001, the victim went to visit Carey Hayes to request his assistance in evicting Edwards from the victim’s house. Hayes was the victim’s neighbor and a deputy police officer for Tallahatchie County. Agitated at the time, the victim told Hayes that Edwards intended to hit the victim in the head and take the victim’s money.

When the two men arrived at the victim’s house, they found Edwards lying on the sofa inebriated. Hayes told Edwards to leave the victim’s house. Edwards retorted that he had no money, no place to go, and no one with whom to stay. The victim soon changed his mind and agreed that Edwards could stay in a back room of his house. Hayes escorted Edwards to bed, reassured the victim that the situation was under control, and went back to his house.

The next morning, a concerned neighbor called the Tutwiler Police Department to investigate the victim’s whereabouts. Officer Gregory Buchanan responded by going to the victim’s home; there, he found the victim’s lacerated dead body on a bed. Buchanan then called the Mississippi Criminal Investigative Bureau for assistance. Investigator Chuck Poe responded and joined Officer Buchanan at the victim’s home to assist in the investigation. After the officers had spent several hours of investigation at the victim’s home, Edwards was escorted to the Tutwiler Police Department for questioning.

Upon Edward’s arrival at the police station, he was read his rights, and Poe asked him if he would relinquish his clothes to the police department for analysis. Edwards complied. After the officers questioned Edwards thoroughly, he was allowed to leave the police station. However, approximately an hour later, Edwards returned and told Officer Doyle Moore, who was on patrol a short distance from the police station, that he wanted to confess to the killing of the victim. Moore instructed Edwards not to say anything further and took Edwards to the Tutwiler Police Station.

After Moore and Edwards arrived at the station, Moore called Buchanan and informed him of the situation. Buchanan, who had left the station, returned to the station. When Buchanan arrived back at the station, Moore told him that Edwards wanted to confess to the killing of Edwards’s father. Buchanan read Edwards’s Miranda rights to him, and Edwards signed a waiver of rights form.

Edwards then gave a statement concerning the killing of his father. In his statement, Edwards wrote, “I want to admit to killing my father in his home yesterday. Exactly how I did it is not very clear in my mind, but it is the truth.” Edwards was then handcuffed and transported to jail. Upon his arrival at the jail, Edwards, before several officers and a jailer, again admitted to killing his father.

Edwards was convicted of depraved heart murder and sentenced to life. On appeal, he argued that he did not freely and voluntarily confess and that his clothing should not have been seized. MCOA affirmed.

Analysis

A. Confession

In Horne, the MSC said that for a confession to be admissible it must have been given voluntarily and not given because of promises, threats or inducements.

Edwards argues that he did not freely, knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently give confessions to law enforcement officers  because he was in need of medical attention and was intoxicated at the time of his confessions. These assertions by Edwards have no merit.

First, there exists no corroborative evidence that Edwards’s confessions were the result of bargained-for medical treatment which Edwards had requested from the police.

Second, there exists no corroborative evidence that Edwards was inebriated to the extent that he was unaware of what he was doing when he gave his confessions. Edwards testified concerning the quantity of alcohol that he said he drank on the day before he gave his confessions. Edwards also testified that he had drunk a can of beer earlier on the day of his confessions. However, neither side presented any evidence concerning whether Edwards drank any alcohol, and if so, how much, during the period of time after he left the police station following the initial interrogation and his return to the station when he gave his confession.

The only evidence which suggests that Edwards may have consumed some alcohol during this time frame is the testimony by each of the officers that Edwards smelled like alcohol. However, all of the officers confirmed that Edwards demonstrated sober judgment when he gave his confession. Moreover, the smell of alcohol, in and of itself, does not warrant a finding that Edwards’s waiver of his Miranda rights and the resulting confession were both involuntary.

There is no evidence that any sort of promises, threats or inducements were made by the State to Edwards in exchange for his confession. Moreover, the evidence clearly demonstrates that Edwards’s confession was a product of his own design.

B. Clothing

Edwards next contends that the trial court erred when it denied his motion to suppress evidence resulting from the seizure of his clothing. The clothing at issue, according to Edwards, involved garments that he had been wearing two to three days before his interrogation. The State confiscated Edwards’s clothing after discovering a questionable red stain on the left pocket of a blue shirt. The State’s seizure of Edwards’s clothes was executed through a warrantless search by Investigator Chuck Poe of the Mississippi Criminal Investigative Bureau after, according to the State’s proof, the State had obtained Edwards’s voluntary consent to search.

In determining the voluntariness of a defendant’s consent to search, courts must assess whether the defendant was immature and impressionable or experienced and well-educated and whether the defendant was in an excited emotional state, mentally incompetent, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the purported consent. See Jones v. State ex rel. Mississippi Dept. of Public Safety, 607 So.2d 23 (Miss.1991).

Both the officer and Edwards testified that the clothing was taken by consent.

Further, the evidence demonstrates that Edwards’s ability to consent to the search and seizure was not negated by intoxication. When Poe was asked about Edwards’s physical demeanor during the interrogation of Edwards, Poe stated, “He seemed to be comprehending everything I was telling him or asking him, no physical signs of impairment as far as alcohol or drugs, and he seemed to be answering questions as I asked him.”

Moreover, by his own testimony, Edwards confirmed that he had only had one can of beer early that morning before his interrogation. He stated that he did not drink any more alcohol between the time his father’s body was found, which was approximately 10:30 in the morning, and the time of his interview and search at the police station, which was at about 4:30 in the afternoon. Therefore, Edwards’s contention under this assignment of error lacks merit.

 

https://courts.ms.gov/Images/Opinions/CO9486.pdf