Miranda doesn’t require the subject be advised of his rights every time there is a pause in questioning

Facts

Mary Elizabeth Dill (“Liz”) was abducted from her home sometime during the night in 1996. Her husband, Bryan Dill, reported her missing the following morning. Three days later, her mutilated and partially decomposed body was found on a dirt road in rural Lowndes County, Mississippi.

The State concluded that Liz had died as a result of a high velocity projectile which directly struck the back of her head and that the projectile was shot by a rifle from a range no closer than three feet. She also had seminal fluid inside her vagina. Her skin was removed over most of her face, neck, and chest area, from below the left breast, which was completely removed, over the right shoulder. The removal of the skin was performed with a sharp object following Liz’s death.

Liz’s husband, Bryan, left his wife at home alone and went to a cabin (commonly referred to as “the shack”) that he and some of his hunting buddies rented. Bryan arrived at the shack around 8:30 or 9:00 p.m. on April 5, 1996, and did not leave until 5:30 the next morning.

The deputies interviewed the party attendees, learning that Darnell Baldwin and one of his brothers, Clint (also indicted, tried, and convicted of capital murder), arrived at the party in Baldwin’s 1975 Monte Carlo and stayed for 15-20 minutes. One or both of the Baldwin brothers spoke to Bryan Dill while they were at the shack. Baldwin drove his 1975 Monte Carlo to the shack again in the early morning hours of April 6.

Having identified Darnell Baldwin as someone who had been at the shack, the deputies went to his home on April 9 to talk with Baldwin about the night of Liz’s disappearance. During the interview the deputies noted that Baldwin was visibly shaken and that he was sweating, trembling, and chain smoking. Baldwin repeatedly refused the deputies’ invitation to come to the Sheriff’s Department for an interview, as well as the deputies’ request to look inside the Monte Carlo car, which was parked in the yard.

Unfortunately, after the deputies left Baldwin’s house to arrange surveillance, Baldwin left in the Monte Carlo, and the Sheriff’s Department was not able to locate the car until several months later.

On April 12, the deputies arrested Baldwin at his home for an unrelated armed robbery. After he was read his Miranda rights, Baldwin chose to talk to the Sheriff’s Department. There was no evidence that the officers used threats, coercion, or force to make Baldwin talk. When asked the whereabouts of his car, he told the officers that his girlfriend had taken it to the Wal-Mart. Baldwin was handcuffed and remained on the premises while the deputies executed a search warrant of the residence.

When no one returned with the car, the officers again questioned Baldwin about the location of the car. Baldwin offered to show the officers where his girlfriend may have taken the car. Over two hours after he was arrested and read his rights, Baldwin was placed in a patrol car with two officers who had not been present when Baldwin was advised of his right against self-incrimination.

Baldwin was asked to direct the officers to the location of his car. He first directed the officers to some apartments, but the car was not present. The officers asked Baldwin which apartment his girlfriend lived in, and Baldwin replied that he was not sure and that maybe she lived in a house in the same general area to which he had led the deputies. After riding around in the vicinity for a short while, the officers abandoned their search for the car with Baldwin.

It was later learned that Baldwin had driven his car to his friend Richard Jones’ house on April 10, 1996, claiming that he wanted his friend to look at the car because there was something wrong with it. The car remained parked at Jones’ house until April 16 or 17, 1996, when Jones returned home to find the car gone.

On April 17, 1996, Baldwin’s lawyer telephoned the police and reported the car stolen. Over four months later on August 18, 1996, the car was found in Pickens County, Alabama. The car was completely burned from hood to trunk, including the tires, with only the hull remaining.

Lonnie Harris testified at trial that Baldwin told him that he had poured gasoline on the car and burned it. Harris was a fellow inmate at the Lowndes County Jail where Baldwin was imprisoned after his arrest. Harris further testified that Baldwin told him that Baldwin had raped, murdered, and “cut up” a woman and that the woman’s husband had paid him $1,000 to do so.

The semen recovered from Dill and the blood taken from Darnell Baldwin was tested. It was 19 million times more likely that Baldwin was the sperm donor than any other individual of the African-American population.

Baldwin was convicted of murder and sentenced to life. On appeal, he argued the statements made to the officers who drove him around should have been excluded since they did not mirandize him. MSC affirmed.

Analysis

Deputies Greg Wright and Frank Baker of the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office testified that they had advised Baldwin of his Miranda rights, and that he freely and voluntarily waived his rights and chose to speak with the officers concerning the whereabouts of his car.

Baldwin’s argument on appeal is that neither officer who actually heard and testified to the incriminating¬†statements was present when Baldwin was advised of his rights, and that, given the lapse in time and the fact that Baldwin’s custody was given over to different officers than the ones who originally arrested him, Baldwin should have been advised of his rights a second time.

Baldwin relies on MSC case Underwood v. State, 708 So. 2d 18 (Miss. 1998). Underwood involved interviews where renewal of the Miranda rights occurred on a daily basis.

Nevertheless, 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, Baldwin was in continuous custody from the time of his arrest until the time that he was placed in the car with Officers Mulligan and Coleman. It is not clear how much or how frequently the officers of the Sheriff’s Department questioned Baldwin during the hours when all were present at his house to execute the search warrant.

It is clear, however, that Baldwin knew the officers wanted to find the 1975 Monte Carlo; the officers’ questions were all related to that purpose, beginning immediately after Baldwin was read his rights. Baldwin never indicated at any time to the officers that he wished to invoke his rights or that he preferred not to answer their questions concerning the whereabouts of his car.

Because Baldwin was advised of his rights, but never invoked those rights, the trial judge was not manifestly erroneous in ruling that Baldwin had freely and voluntarily made the statements to Coleman, and that Coleman could testify to the same.

 

https://courts.ms.gov/images/Opinions/Conv8791.pdf