In 2005, a dance was held at the Holmes Community College (“HCC”) student union, commonly referred to as the Canteen. A fight then broke out between some members of the HCC football team and eight individuals who did not attend HCC. The fight began inside the Canteen and later moved outside. After the fight moved outside, two gunshots were fired. As a result, Dwaentre Davis, also known as DeeDee, was killed.
Shaghana Simpson, an HCC student, and Joey Netherland, the security guard at the dance, testified that the shooter left the scene in a tan Chevrolet Suburban (the “Suburban”). Simpson testified that the shooter was wearing a white t-shirt and blue jeans. She also reported to police officers that the Suburban belonged to Montrell, whose last name she could not remember at the time.
Netherland supplied police officers with a partial license plate number for the Suburban.
Officers Kenneth Wilson and John Newton of the Holmes County Sheriff’s Department proceeded to Montrell Jordan’s home in Pickens, Mississippi, where they were met by Officer Fred Coats. At Jordan’s home, Wilson, who was previously acquainted with Jordan, saw Jordan and his father, Walter Jordan, enter the home through the back entrance. The officers saw a tan Suburban parked behind a shed behind the home.
The officers knocked on the back door, and Walter Jordan let them into the house. Wilson then told Montrell Jordan that he was under arrest for investigation of a shooting at Holmes Community College, and advised him of his Miranda rights.
Wilson and Newton testified that they asked to search Jordan’s vehicle and that Jordan consented. A brown leather holster and four .357 bullets were recovered from inside the vehicle. Newton testified that he returned to Jordan’s home at a later time to retrieve the clothing that Jordan was wearing at the dance. When he asked Walter Jordan for the clothing, Mr. Jordan gave Newton a pair of blue jeans and a white t-shirt.
Officer A.C. Hankins, MBI, and Captain Sam Chambers of the Holmes County Sheriff’s Department interviewed Jordan after he was read his Miranda rights. Jordan stated he did not want to sign a waiver-of-rights form, but that he was willing to talk to officers. Hankins reported that Jordan stated that he had attended the party at the HCC canteen, that a fight broke out, and that someone started shooting a gun. Jordan reported that after the shooting, he went to his Suburban and drove home. He stated that he had been wearing a white tee shirt and some Girbaud jeans at the dance. Jordan denied owning a handgun.
Later in the morning, Jordan gave a similar statement to Detective Lacarus Oliver.
Simpson reported to the police that she had previously observed a gun under a seat in Jordan’s vehicle, and that Jordan told her that it was a .357. Later on in the investigation, Netherland and Carlton Brown, an HCC student, identified Jordan as the shooter from a photographic lineup. Jordan was convicted of depraved heart murder and sentenced to life.
On appeal, he argued his statement should have been suppressed as well as evidence found in his car. MSC affirmed.
A. Statement to police
Jordan argues that his constitutional right to counsel was violated when he was interrogated by Chambers despite having requested counsel and refused to sign a waiver of rights form.
A waiver must be voluntary, knowing, and intelligent. A waiver is considered voluntary if it is the result of a free and deliberate choice rather than intimidation, coercion or deception. Knowing and intelligent waiver must be made with a full awareness both of the nature of the right being abandoned and the consequences of the decision to abandon it.
Chambers testified that before the questioning began, he advised Jordan of his Miranda rights. He further testified that Jordan did not request an attorney, and that he was not threatened or coerced in any way. The testimony of Hankins corroborated this.
Later in the morning, Oliver testified that he advised Jordan of his Miranda rights before questioning him. Furthermore, he testified that Jordan was not threatened or coerced in any way, and that Jordan stated he did not want to sign a waiver of-rights form, but that he was willing to talk to officers.
Oliver testified that Jordan never requested an attorney, and never expressed a desire to stop the interview. MBI Officer Milton Williams, who was also present during Oliver’s interrogation of Jordan, testified that Jordan never requested an attorney.
The trial court found both statements were given after a voluntary, knowing, and intelligent waiver. The trial court applied the proper legal standards and found that, after being advised of his Miranda rights, Jordan made voluntary statements to the officers that were in no way a product of threats, coercion, or promises. Accordingly, we find this issue to be without merit.
Additionally, we said in Adams that a defendant’s refusal to sign a waiver does not constitute a per se invocation of his Fifth Amendment rights.
B. Search of car
In this case, the trial judge found that there was probable cause for the warrantless search of Jordan’s car, making the search valid. When determining whether or not a search is supported by probable cause, a judge must consider the totality of the circumstances and use his or her best judgment.
In the instant case, there was testimony from several witnesses that the shooter left the scene in Jordan’s car, which police officers found parked at Jordan’s home shortly after the incident. This constitutes substantial evidence in support of a finding that probable cause existed for a valid, warrantless search of Jordan’s automobile. Accordingly, we find this issue to be without merit.
In addition to probable cause and readily mobile, the car must also be in a public place to utilize the automobile exception. In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court in Collins said that automobile exception searches can not take place at a home or its curtilage. This case said that the car was parked at his home. Unless this car was parked on the street, Collins would not allow you to use the automobile exception today in this case.