In 1994, Stanley Adams arrived at the Oxford residence of Teri Martin, a female acquaintance of his. According to Martin, Adams woke her up, told her that his friend’s car had broken down, and asked to use her telephone. Martin told Adams that she would not let him use her phone, but after a brief argument, she agreed to drive him home.
The next morning, Martin’s bank called to inform her that someone had tried to cash a check on her account. When she went to her car to see if her checkbook was still there, the checkbook was gone. It later became apparent that someone had cashed a check for $25 on Martin’s account at an Oxford convenience store known as “Sky Mart,” but the bank refused to honor the check due to insufficient funds. Stanley Adams became a suspect based on eyewitness identification by two Sky Mart employees, Davery Bland and Deana Malone.
Oxford Police Officer Alvin Lewis took Adams into custody for questioning. Lewis testified that he read to Adams his Miranda rights and a waiver of those rights, but that Adams refused to sign the waiver form. However, according to Lewis, Adams “told me he didn’t want to sign it but he would talk to me.”
Lewis testified that when he first asked Adams about the forged check, Adams said that he did not know Teri Martin, that he had never seen the check before, and that he was not at Sky Mart on September 27. According to Lewis, when he again questioned Adams about the check after other questioning, Adams admitted that he knew Teri Martin, but stated that Martin had written the check, and that she had gone to Sky Mart and had given the check to Adams to cash because Adams knew the man behind the counter.
Adams was convicted of uttering a forgery and sentenced to 15 years as an habitual offender. On appeal, he argued he did not waive his Miranda rights. MSC reversed the conviction and ordered a new trial.
Oxford Police Officer Alvin Lewis testified that he read to Adams his Miranda rights and a waiver of those rights, but that Adams refused to sign the waiver form. Lewis testified that Adams “told me he didn’t want to sign it but he would talk to me.” Lewis then related the conflicting and incriminating statements made by Adams during the ensuing interrogation.
On cross-examination, Lewis repeated that “he told me he wasn’t going to sign the damn thing but he would talk to me.” He admitted, however, that he had marked only “refused” on the waiver form, that he had not recorded Adams’ interrogation, and that the police report of Adams’ interrogation contained no indication that Adams had waived his Miranda rights.
Officer Ed Hood testified that he was present during Adams’ interrogation. He testified that he knew Adams well, and that although it was not unusual in most cases, it was unusual for Adams to refuse to sign the waiver form. Hood testified that after Adams refused to sign the waiver form, he agreed to talk to the officers. On cross-examination, Hood testified that after Adams refused to sign the waiver form, Lewis proceeded to ask Adams questions about the forged check.
We said in Mohr v. State, 584 So. 2d 426 (Miss. 1991), that a defendant’s refusal to sign a waiver does not constitute a per se invocation of his Fifth Amendment rights.
We said in Ramseur v. State, 368 So. 2d 842 (Miss. 1979), that if the defendant is advised of his rights, the fact that he did not sign a waiver will not preclude statements he made after being advised of his rights from being admitted. In Ramseur the defendant confessed to a murder and signed a written confession after being advised of his rights, and although he refused to sign a waiver, he stated that he would answer any questions asked.
Similarly in Thorson v. State, 653 So. 2d 876 (Miss. 1994), we held that the defendant’s rights had not been violated. In Thorson the defendant argued on appeal that his initial refusal to sign the waiver form constituted a demand for an attorney and that the incriminating statements thereafter obtained were therefore inadmissible. However, the defendant in Thorson was not questioned again after refusing to sign until more than 32 hours later, and he was again advised of his rights before further questioning.
Lest we render waiver forms altogether meaningless, the refusal to sign a waiver does have some significance which cannot be ignored.
In our case, the interrogation continued uninterrupted after Adams refused to sign the waiver form, and he was not again advised of his rights before further questioning. Also, Hood’s testimony that it was unusual for Adams to refuse to sign the form suggests that Adams attached considerable significance to his refusal to sign, and that he could reasonably have believed that he had waived nothing because of such refusal.
The waiver form itself shows only that Adams refused to sign and that Adams’ interrogation was not recorded. The police report of the interrogation also indicates nothing about a voluntary waiver of Miranda rights. The only evidence indicating that Adams voluntarily waived his rights is the testimony by the two police officers, one of whose cross-examination testimony is not altogether consistent with his direct examination testimony.
Furthermore, the officers never informed Adams that his failure to sign the waiver would not prevent his statements from being used against him. We hold that the evidence in this case casts sufficient doubt on Adams’ voluntary waiver of his Miranda rights and that he is entitled to a suppression hearing on this issue.