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State v. Sweet

Superior Court of Maine, Kennebec

September 18, 2014

DANIEL SWEET, defendant


Robert E. Mullen, Justice Maine Superior Court.

This matter came before the undersigned on 9/4/2014 with respect to the defendant's Motion to Suppress filed June 11, 2014. Defendant's motion seeks to suppress any statements made by defendant because the statements were either involuntary, made without the benefit of defendant being given his Miranda rights, made without a voluntary waiver of defendant's Miranda rights, or were made in violation of the defendant's right to counsel. After hearing, which included a videotape of the defendant's interaction with the two state troopers involved in the case, the Court makes the following Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law upon which the Order set out below is based:

1. Defendant was arrested on or about April 10, 2014 for domestic violence assault as well as for two counts of unlawful possession of scheduled drugs, Class E.

2. The arrest occurred after two Maine State Troopers ("troopers") interviewed the defendant on April 10, 2014 concerning an incident involving the defendant's wife and defendant the night before.

3. The troopers went to the wife's parents' home to interview the defendant. The troopers were in full uniform and in marked State Police cruisers. The interview took place outside next to defendant's motor vehicle, which was blocked from backing out of the residence's driveway by one, and perhaps two, cruisers.

4. After trooper Turcotte asked the defendant a series of questions begining with "(C)ould you tell me what took place last night..." and also asking defendant "(D)id you hit her...did you hold her down...?" and the defendant responded, the trooper put the defendant under arrest, handcuffing him. When the defendant asked the trooper was he under arrest, the trooper responded in the affirmative. When the defendant asked why he was under arrest, the trooper responded "domestic violence assault."

5. The trooper then asked the defendant a series of questions after the defendant was placed under arrest, before the defendant was transported, and before the defendant was read his Miranda rights. It is clear to the undersigned that defendant was not going to be allowed to leave the premises, nor would any reasonable person in the position of defendant believe that they would be allowed to leave. See State v. Ormsby, 2013 ME 88. Accordingly, the Court finds that any inculpatory statements made in response to interrogation by the troopers took place while defendant was in custody and either not read his Miranda rights or were taken after defendant invoked his Miranda rights, see below. Accordingly, the statements are suppressed from being used as part of the State's case in chief.

6. While still at the scene defendant was asked whether he wanted his car locked, to which the defendant replied "yeah." Defendant was also asked if he wanted his cellphone and wallet, to which the defendant also replied "yeah." One of the troopers stated he would get the items for defendant; defendant said he would get them himself, to which Trooper Turcotte said "no, we'll get them..." or words to that effect. Defendant then told the troopers that the items "should be right in the middle console..."

7. While getting the defendant's cellphone and wallet out of defendant's car the trooper noted drugs in plain view, and stated "(N)ow I know why he didn't want me in here..."

8. Trooper Turcotte asked the defendant if he had a prescription for the drugs, to which the defendant said no.

9. Defendant sounded on the videotape as if he was under the influence of either drugs or alcohol or a combination of both while speaking with the troopers.

10. After Trooper Turcotte gives the defendant his Miranda rights as they are driving to the jail/police station, the defendant is asked whether he wants to speak to the trooper, and the defendant responds "no."

11. After the defendant has invoked his right to remain silent the trooper asked the defendant if some hypodermic needles found in defendant's car were "capped" to which the defendant says "yes."

12. Thereafter, the defendant begins to ask the trooper questions and also volunteers certain information. Defendant expresses concerns about losing his job and "having a problem" apparently with alcohol. Defendant asks that ...

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