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Statements – Voluntariness – Post-Stress Test (“Honesty Testing”) Statement

State v. Keith A. Davis2008 WI 71, on Certification
For Davis: Chris A. Gramstrup

Issue/Holding:

¶38      In the case at hand, we conclude, as did the circuit court, that the defendant’s statement was voluntary. The record contains no evidence that would give rise to any concerns regarding his personal characteristics. Davis, at the time this occurred, was 43 years old. While the defendant’s brief indicates that Davis only possesses a middle school level education, we must defer to the trial court’s judgment that Davis was not at such an educational disadvantage to render his personal characteristics at issue.

¶39      We also do not find evidence that law enforcement used coercion or other forms of improper conduct in order to elicit Davis’s incriminating statement. The duration of questioning was not lengthy, no physical or emotional pressures were used, and no inducements, threats, methods, or strategies were employed to ascertain an incriminating statement from the defendant.

¶40      Davis’s participation was voluntary in every way: Davis agreed to talk and take the voice stress analysis when he was in his own home. Davis came to the police station on his own terms including when and how he intended to get there.

¶42      Merely because one is administered a voice stress analysis or polygraph test does not render a subsequent statement per se coercive. The proper inquiry is not only whether a test was taken, but rather, whether a subsequent statement was given at a distinct event and whether law enforcement used coercive means to obtain the statement. An important inquiry continues to be whether the test result was referred to in order to elicit an incriminating statement. See Johnson, 193 Wis.  2d at 389. Here, Davis did not make a statement to Detective Buenning, the tester. There is no question that the test was over. Davis had gone from one room to another room. In addition, the interviewer, Detective Swanson, never referenced the examination or its results during the time Davis gave his statement. No coercive measures were used to elicit the statement. Accordingly, Davis’s statement was voluntary.

 

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