In 2010, Cheryl McFarland was on the phone with her husband when she arrived home and saw a strange red or maroon car in the carport. She then observed that the house door had been kicked in and two men came running out.
One with dreadlocks came out first, choked her, and threw her across the carport. One of the men (she could not tell which because she was facedown on the carport) then kicked her and hit her on the head with what turned out to be a .22 pistol taken from inside the house. The men then got into their car and drove away.
Sacory Brown was developed as a suspect after another police department provided the Forrest County Investigators with a car tag number associated with a similar recent burglary. That car belonged to Brown’s mother, Mary Brown. Brown advised that her son frequently drove her car and took him to the police department.
He was Mirandized and advised 1) you have a right to remain silent, 2) anything you say can be used as evidence against you in court, 3) you have a right to talk to a lawyer before questioning and have him present during questioning and 4) if you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you before questioning, if you wish.
Brown implicated himself with his statement, was convicted of burglary, and sentenced to 25 years. On appeal, he argued a) that an adequate Miranda warning must include explicit notice of the suspect’s right to cease the interrogation at any time and b) his learning disability rendered his confession involuntary. MSC affirms.
A. Subject explicit notice regarding stopping interrogation
Miranda does not require, and this court has never required, that a defendant be explicitly informed of the right to stop answering questions. Rather, the four fold warning, required by Miranda, comprehends and includes the right of a suspect to terminate his questioning at any time he wishes.
This court has further stated that an individual has the right to stop the interrogation at any time he wishes, but it is not required that he must be so informed. Interest of Wilder, 347 So. 2d 520 (Miss. 1977).
This court must first conduct an independent review of the totality of the circumstances discoverable in the entire record in order to resolve the questioned validity of a confession or incriminating statements. This review includes consideration of the defendant’s experience with the police and familiarity with warnings; intelligence, including I.Q.; age; education; vocabulary and ability to read and write in the language in which the warnings were given; intoxication; emotional state; mental disease, disorder or retardation.
If an accused is fully aware of both the nature of the right being abandoned and the consequences of the decision to abandon it, a wavier is knowingly and intelligently made. Here, Brown was given the four fold warning required by Miranda. The standard Miranda waiver form used throughout Forrest County included the four required warnings. These rights were read out loud to Brown, and Brown then waived those rights by signing the form in two different places.
Because this four fold warning inherently incorporates the right of a suspect to stop answering questions and to cease the interrogation at anytime he wishes, the absence of an explicit warning of that right did not affect whether Brown’s waiver was knowing, intelligent, and voluntary.
B. Learning disability
Our independent review of the record shows that Brown’s learning disability does not rise to the level of mental disability required to have interfered with his ability to waive his rights.
In McGowan, this court said that the defendant knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waived his Miranda rights even though he was only 17, had a low I.Q., and read at a fourth or fifth grade level. And like Brown, McGowan waived his rights by signing a standard waiver form after the form was read to him by the interrogating officers.
19 year old Brown came voluntarily to the police station to be interrogated. He graduated from high school, took care of himself, drove himself around town, and demonstrated literacy and an adult command of the English language by handwriting his inculpatory statement to the police. Brown possessed the capacity to waive his rights.