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Taking confession using secret video after subject asks for lawyer

Facts

In 2005, an eight week old infant became unresponsive and died while under Amy Wilkerson‘s care as the baby sitter. The doctors believed she died from shaken baby syndrome. The next day, she went to the police station, was Mirandized, and gave a statement.

Wilkerson denied shaking the baby, gave other possible reasons why the baby may have died, and then asked for a lawyer. The detective then turned off the tape but another hidden audio and video recorder played as the detective continued to talk to Wilkerson. On the hidden video, Wilkerson said two more times that she wanted a lawyer and the detective told her he wasn’t supposed to be talking to her and then proceeded to tell her why a lawyer really couldn’t help her and that she didn’t really have a choice.

Wilkerson then admitted she shook the baby. The detective turned on the original tape and asked Wilkerson if she wanted to talk now without a lawyer and she said I guess so. She then repeated that she had shaken the baby on the overt video. In discovery, the overt recordings were turned over.

It is ambiguous from the paper trail whether the covert video was ever turned over but defense lawyers later stated they never had the covert video. In 2007, she pled guilty to murder and was sentenced to life. In 2015, she appealed and argued that the 32 minute video was not turned over before trial. MCOA reversed to determine whether defense lawyers ever received the covert video.

Analysis

Here is the bottom line: 1) If the prosecutors never sent the covert video to defense, there is no Brady violation in Mississippi because she pled guilty. 2) If the prosecutors did send the covert video to defense, there could be a valid ineffective assistance of counsel for not making a motion to suppress before trial. This is being reversed to determine whether covert video was sent to defense.

 

https://courts.ms.gov/Images/Opinions/CO150489.pdf