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Confession — invocation of right to remain silent; voluntariness

State v. Ladarius Marshall, 2012AP140-CR, District 1, 7/2/13; court of appeals decision (not recommended for publication); case activity

The trial court properly denied Marshall’s motion to suppress his statements to police made during on-again off-again interrogation lasting from 10:45 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. The court first rejects Marshall’s argument he didn’t invoke his right to remain silent:

¶21      The circuit court found that Marshall never unequivocally and unambiguously invoked his right to remain silent. The Record supports the circuit court’s finding. Although Marshall said he would not make a statement, he agreed to answer questions. Detectives Petropoulos and Braunreiter reasonably interpreted this to mean that Marshall would talk to them in a question and answer format but would not give a narrative. When Marshall told them that he was done talking, the detectives left and did not return until Marshall asked for them. They stopped when Marshall said he had nothing more to say. Marshall then resumed the interviews by asking to talk to Braunreiter alone. That interview ended, not because Marshall said he wanted to stop talking, but because he said he needed to use the restroom. When detectives Heier and Goldberg took over after the shift change, they left the room when Marshall said he would not make a statement. Then, they came back only to tell Marshall that they were moving on to the next step in processing. He responded by saying he wanted to talk to them more.

The court then rejects Marshall’s argument that under State v. Jerrell C.J., 2005 WI 105, 283 Wis. 2d 145, 699 N.W.2d 110, his statements were involuntary:

¶23      The circuit court found that the police did not use any coercive tactics, threats, or other pressures. It also found that Marshall appeared to the officers to be alert, that he responded to them appropriately, and that he did not have any mental health or cognitive issues that prevented him from knowingly and voluntarily waiving his rights. Finally, it found that Marshall’s statements were the “product of a free and unconstrained will, reflecting a deliberateness of choice as opposed to the result of a conspicuously unequal confrontation.” These findings are supported by the testimony of the detectives and Dr. Collins. The findings are thus not clearly erroneous.

¶24      Marshall argues, however, that Jerrell C.J. requires reversal because it imposes special requirements when the police interview juvenile suspects. He claims that his age, his learning disabilities, and the length of his detention made his statements involuntary under Jerrell C.J. We disagree.

¶25      Jerrell C.J. noted that “‘special caution’” needs to be used in determining whether a juvenile confession is voluntary. Jerrell C.J., 2005 WI 105, ¶21, 283 Wis. 2d at 157, 699 N.W.2d at 116 (quoted source and one set of quotation marks omitted). As we have seen, the circuit court here used special caution when it applied the proper factors and balancing test, and found that:  (1) the police did not use any coercive tactics:  “no psychological pressure” “[n]o inducements, [or] threats,” (2) Marshall did not have “any type of cognitive disability that prevented him from” “proceeding voluntarily,” (3) although “these officers were adults, [and] the defendant was 16 years and 3 months[,] [t]here were no pressures that were brought to bear on the defendant that exceeded his ability to resist,” and (4) Marshall was not “the subject of 16 hours of non-stop interrogation. …  There were several interrogations … stopped at his request [and] then reinitiated” by Marshall. These findings are well supported by the Record, which shows that the detectives scrupulously honored Marshall’s requests.

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