Subject has to be interrogated for Miranda to apply


In 2003, Officer Tyrone Keller was called to a domestic disturbance at the home of Rika Carmichael, which she shared with Kenneth Wilson, his live- in girlfriend Lisa Williams and her two children – Michael D’Anthony Williams and a younger son. Wilson and Lisa had an argument which resulted in Wilson pushing Lisa into a television, and Keller asked Wilson to leave the house.

Wilson then went to Lisa’s mother’s home nearby, in an attempt to work out the problems he was having with Lisa. Another argument broke out, and Keller was again called to the scene. After this second incident, Keller did not arrest Wilson, but took him in his patrol car to the Laurel Police Department where Wilson’s parents picked him up around 10:00 P.M.

Wilson arrived back at Lisa’s home around 11:00 P.M. and knocked on the door, but she would not unlock it to let him in. Wilson became angry, broke the glass of the door with his fist, unlocked it, entered the home and started punching Lisa in the face. A fierce fight erupted when household members, including Lisa’s son Michael, came to her defense.

Wilson tossed Lisa to the floor and continued to beat her in the face with his fists, while Rika ran to call the police from a neighbor’s home. While Lisa was on the floor, Wilson grabbed a knife from the nearby counter, stabbed her 14 times, and inflicted 11 slash wounds and one chop wound. Three of those wounds were fatal and Lisa bled to death within minutes. While attempting to defend his mother, Michael was stabbed once in the forehead and once in the leg by Wilson.

The police arrived shortly after the fight ended and found Wilson on the front porch with the knife still in his hand and blood covering his clothing. A standoff between the police and Wilson ensued, during which Wilson stabbed himself several times before the police disarmed him. He was taken into custody and transported to a nearby hospital for treatment of wounds suffered to his arms and hands. During this time Wilson made incriminating statements to the police.

He was convicted of murder and sentenced to life. On appeal, he argued that his confessions were involuntary and without Miranda warnings. MSC affirmed.


A. Voluntariness

As the police were leading Wilson from the house, but prior to placing handcuffs on him, he began making statements regarding his guilt. He continued to make statements to the police as they were placing handcuffs on him and even as he was being read his Miranda rights. One of the arresting officers interrupted Wilson, loudly saying “Miranda Miranda” at him in an attempt to silence him.

Here is part of his statements taken from a video camera mounted on the patrol car:

Officer Tyrone Stewart: Listen before we ask you any questions you must understand your rights. You have the right to remain silent.
Wilson: I know that.
Stewart: Anything you say can be used against you in court.
Wilson:I know that. I did it.
Stewart: You have the right –
Wilson: Guilty
Stewart: – to talk to a lawyer for advice –
Wilson: Guilty
Stewart: – and to have one with you during questioning –
Wilson: Tyrone, Guilty, Guilty. I don’t need one
Stewart: huh?
Wilson: Guilty
Stewart: Okay. One will be appointed for you by the court before questioning if you wish, if you wish to answer questions without a lawyer, you can stop answering questions at any time. You also have the right to stop at anytime until you talk to a lawyer, Okay?
Prior to reading Wilson his Miranda rights, the officers did not ask him any questions.

While en route to the hospital, Wilson continued to make statements regarding his guilt. When he arrived at the hospital, he made further statements in the presence of Officer John Cox, who was sent to provide security for Wilson, because the police feared he might become a victim of retribution from Lisa’s family.

The next day, when police investigator Earl Reed went to the hospital to photograph wounds to Wilson’s arms and hands, Wilson again made statements to him without being questioned. Later, Reed and another officer interviewed Wilson on videotape, after again reading him his rights and obtaining his signed waiver. In that video, Wilson described the evening’s events in detail and confessed to stabbing Lisa and Michael.

We said in Manix that in order for a confession to be admissible at trial it must have been intelligently, knowingly and voluntarily given, and not a product of police threats, promises or inducements. In determining whether a defendant’s confession was intelligently, knowingly and voluntarily given the trial court sits as a finder of fact. Therefore, this court will reverse the trial court’s determination only when it was manifestly incorrect.

The video of Wilson’s confessions clearly indicate they were made of his own free will and without inducement by the police. Wilson failed to provide any evidence of coercion, threats or promises made by specific police officers to secure his confessions.

B. Miranda Warnings

Wilson’s argument that he was subjected to custodial interrogation without proper Miranda warnings is also without merit. To be subject to custodial interrogation, one must be both in custody and undergoing interrogation.

We said in Roberts v. State, 301 So. 2d 859 (Miss. 1974), that a subject is in custody when their right to freely leave has been restricted.

We said in Pierre v State, 607 So. 2d 43 (Miss. 1992), that the accused is subject to interrogation when he is questioned by the police or the functional equivalent. The U.S. Supreme Court said in Rhode Island v. Innis, 446 U.S. 291 (1980), that the functional equivalent is any sort of activity which the police reasonably believe would produce an incriminating response.

It is clear that Wilson was in custody when he confessed; however, his confessions were not the product of interrogation. The police did not question Wilson until after he was given his Miranda warnings. The statements he made while being arrested, transported to the hospital, and receiving medical treatment were not prompted by police activities; rather, were the product of his own free will.

The police did everything in their power to appraise Wilson of his rights. They even went so far as to shout at him, interrupting one of his confessions, to inform him of his rights. We conclude the use of these statements did not violate Wilson’s rights.