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State v. Pillsbury

Superior Court of Maine, Kennebec

December 5, 2014



Before the Court is a Motion to Suppress Statements Made to Law Enforcement filed by the Defendant on March 12, 2014. Defendant is alleged to have intentionally or knowingly caused the death of Jillian Jones on November 13, 2013 in Augusta. The State is represented in this matter by Assistant Attorney General Deborah Cashman, and the Defendant is represented by Attorney James Lawley. The Court conducted a hearing on the motion on September 16, 2014 and the parties submitted written arguments, the last of which was received by the Court on October 17, 2014.

The Court has considered the evidence admitted at hearing (including the recordings of the Defendant's interviews), the parties' written arguments, the case law referred to in the parties' memoranda, and issues the following order denying the motion.

Findings and Conclusions

On November 13, 2013 members of the Augusta Police Department (APD), including Detective Tory Tracy, responded to a 911 call which reported a "murder-suicide" on Crosby Street. The body of Jillian Jones was found in a bathroom of the apartment, and the Defendant, who was found unresponsive, was quickly transported by first responders to Maine General Medical Center (MGMC). Upon learning that the Defendant had made statements to rescue personnel, Detective Tracy went to the hospital and took statements from rescue and medical providers, but she did not interview the Defendant.[1] Det. Tracy entered the recovery room with other APD officers when the Defendant was waking up from surgery, and did so at the request of medical staff who were apparently concerned about the Defendant being combative as he awoke. Det. Tracy testified that she never took a statement from the Defendant about the death of Jillian Jones, and it appears that the Defendant was not interviewed by anyone else from law enforcement until the next day.[2]

On November 14, 2013 Detective Tremblay of the Maine State Police, accompanied by Detective Jonah O'Roak, went to MGMC to interview the Defendant at around noon. Det. Tremblay testified that when they arrived, they asked a critical care nurse to ask the Defendant if they could speak with him. She advised that he would, and also that she had permission to tell them what medication he was on. Det. Tremblay testified that the Defendant was lying in a hospital bed when they entered his room, and had a cast on his hand as well as a bandage on his neck. He testified that they did not ask him any questions about the event, but did ask about his level of pain. Detective Tremblay conceded on cross examination that he never asked the nurse about the medication.

The officers were in plain clothes. Although they were armed, the evidence is that their weapons were not visible under their suit jackets. Det. Tremblay also administered Miranda warnings. He testified that the Defendant was not in custody, and can be heard on the tape in this interview telling the Defendant he was not in custody. Det. Tremblay explained that he administered the warnings because he wanted to make sure that the Defendant knew he had rights and understood them. He described the Defendant as being in pain, but noted that his answers to questions were responsive. The interview ended shortly after it began as the Defendant soon invoked his rights, telling the officers "no sir" when he was asked if he was willing to answer questions. The Defendant also stated that he understood that he could "have a lawyer sitting here with me present. Which is probably what I'm gonna do." Detective Tremblay told the Defendant that if he changed his mind about talking to them, "give me, urn, ask the, ah, a nurse and she can get a hold of us." The Defendant responded, "Maybe, like tomorrow or something. I'm finding it (inaudible), trying to talk right now."[3] (State's Exh. 2, pg. 5).

The next day, Detectives Tremblay and O'Roak returned to MGMC. They did not do this because the Defendant had taken them up on the offer to reach out to law enforcement through a nurse. It is clear to the Court that they returned in order to try to discuss Jillian Jones' death with the Defendant, as they had been unsuccessful in doing so the previous day. This next interview took place approximately 26 hours after the first interview. It lasted approximately one and a half hours, and a transcript of this interview was admitted as State's Exh. 3. In the course of this second interview, the Defendant makes numerous inculpatory statements after once again receiving Miranda warnings.

The Defendant was not told this time, however, by either detective that he was not in custody. Nor was he told by law enforcement that they learned in the course of this interview that he had been medically cleared once the paper work was completed by medical staff, and the record does not indicate whether the Defendant knew this from any other source. The Defendant early in the interview indicates he understands that a hospital security guard was stationed just outside his door.

At one point, approximately 25 minutes into the interview, the Defendant asks to go off the record, and Detective Tremblay turns off the recording. When the recording comes back on, the detective states for the recording what had been discussed, which he suggests were inquiries from the Defendant "about whether or not, ah, a deal could be made and not go to trial." (State's Exh. 2). There seems to be no claim made by the defense that any promises or inducements were made by law enforcement when they went off the recording.

Towards the end of the interview (Id. pg. 40) Detective Tremblay steps out of the room for approximately 15 minutes to take a call from the Attorney General's Office. Detective O'Roak continues questioning the Defendant and then receives a call from his "boss." Detective Tremblay testified that when he stepped out to speak to the AG's Office he learned the Defendant was going to be medically realeased, and that he was told by the AG's Office that he could arrest the Defendant. Within minutes of returning to the room, the interview ends and the Defendant is informed that he is medically cleared and is under arrest.

The Defendant argues in this motion that first, all statements in the second interview must be suppressed given the Defendant's invocation of his rights in the first interview. Secondly, the Defendant argues that any inculpatory statements made in the second interview were not the product of a valid waiver of his constitutional rights.

The Defendant's Invocations of Rights in the November 14, 2013 Interview

A threshold question is whether the Defendant was in "custody" during these two interviews. While it is clear that he received appropriate Miranda warnings on both occasions, if Defendant is correct that he was in custody on both occasions, and invoked his right to counsel in the first, the United States Supreme Court's decision in Maryland v. Shatzer 559 U.S. 98 (2010) would prohibit the use of any inculpatory statements made in the second interview conducted on November 15, 2013. However, if Defendant was not in custody during the first interview, then Shatzer's fourteen-day waiting period in between custodial interrogations does not apply. State v. Nightingale, 2012 ME 132, ¶ 19.

The Court will assume for the sake of this analysis that the Defendant in the first interview invoked his right to counsel.[4] The Court must then decide if the circumstances of the first interview constituted custody which requires "a formal arrest or restraint on freedom of movement of the degree associated with formal arrest." Shatzer at 112, citing New York v. Quarles, 467 U.S. 649, 655 (1984). The Maine Supreme Court has adopted a non-exhaustive list often factors which courts are ...

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