When there is conflicting testimony about voluntariness of statement, trial judge is always in best position to judge credibility of witnesses


In 2011, police responded to a call about a burglary of a pharmacy. While headed to the call, Deputy Shane Lang, Leake County Sheriff’s Department, noticed an individual wearing dark clothes and a mask, carrying a white bag, and hiding between a hotel and a storage building.

The individual was Carl Houston who fled when he saw Lang. Houston ran with the bag until he jumped a ditch and dropped the bag. Lang eventually caught and arrested Houston. The bag contained prescription drugs that the store’s pharmacist determined had been stolen.

Investigator Kevin Cross Mirandized Houston who refused to talk. Later, after Houston asked to speak to Cross again, the officers attempted to question Houston a second time. Cross and Chance Henderson, a Carthage Police Department narcotics investigator, interviewed Houston.

Houston acknowledged that he understood his rights, but he refused to sign the Miranda waiver. He then made a confession. He was convicted of business burglary and sentenced to seven years. On appeal, he argued that police withheld medical care from him until he confessed. MCOA affirmed.


The voluntariness of a waiver, or of a confession, is a factual inquiry that must be determined by the trial judge from the totality of the circumstances. Further, where there is conflicting evidence about a confession’s admissibility, this court will not disturb the trial court’s finding unless it appears clearly contrary to the overwhelming weight of the evidence.

Although Houston initially refused to sign a waiver, he did not indicate that he wanted an attorney or that he did not want to give a statement. Houston gave an oral interview and confessed to the crime. Houston did not at any time indicate he wanted to stop the interview.

Houston also provided a written statement, which he signed. Houston only offered his own uncorroborated testimony that medical treatment was withheld until he gave a statement in order to rebut the State’s prima facie case. The evidence also established that Houston was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol or intoxicated, nor was he promised any leniency for his confession.

Here, the circuit judge properly weighed the credibility of the testimony of the police officers and Houston to decide whether to admit the confession. The judge’s decision to admit the confession was not an abuse of discretion. Therefore, we find that this issue has no merit.