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State v. Arbour

Superior Court of Maine, Kennebec

July 24, 2015

Franklin Arbour, Defendant.


A hearing was held on the defendant's motion to suppress on July 23, 2015. The defendant was seeking to suppress statements which he made following his arrest in the wake of a search warrant which had been executed at his residence, on September 17, 2014.


On September 17, 2014, officials from the Augusta Police Department executed a search warrant at the defendant's residence in Augusta, commencing at approximately 4:00 PM. Present in the residence was a woman identified as Angela Sousa. Seized pursuant to this search warrant was a significant quantity of Heroin, Cocaine and Marijuana. The defendant was not present at the time of the officer's arrival Ms. Sousa was asked whether she knew where the defendant was, and was initially released by the police, and advised that she could not remain on premises while the search warrant was conducted. At approximately 6:00 PM, the defendant arrived at the premises and announced to Detective Cote: "Go ahead and arrest me now. My girlfriend had nothing to do with this/' Detective Cote responded by asking whether the defendant wished to talk, and the defendant responded that he did not.

The defendant was transported to the Augusta Police Department by Detectives Cote and Dos Santos. Upon arrival at the police station, the defendant was brought to an interview room. From the testimony of the officers, combined with the video provided by the defense, the court determines that the following occurred at the police station: The defendant was alone in the interview room for approximately two minutes, handcuffed behind his back. Detective Dos Santos came into the room and spent less than two minutes describing what had occurred that day to the defendant. Detective Dos Santos explained that Angela Sousa had been arrested and charged with Possession of Scheduled Drugs, although the detective did not know the amount of bail set on the Sousa matter. The. defendant replied to this information "She had nothing to do with it. Its all me". The detective finished his preliminary talk, telling the defendant that it was nothing personal, and that he (the detective) was primarily interested in the stolen tools found upon the premises, although he could not give the defendant a free pass on anything that had occurred. At this point, Detective Dos Santos read the defendant his Miranda warning, and the defendant invoked, declining to speak further with the detective. The detective then said that the defendant could reach out to him, should the defendant change his mind.

On December 23, 2014, the defendant filed a motion to suppress statements, alleging that the statements made by the defendant during his encounter with the police on September 17, 2014, were in violation of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). The defendant further alleged that his statements were obtained in violation of his sixth amendment right to counsel.


During the hearing, the defendant's counsel stated that she was not seeking to suppress the statements made by the defendant while at his residence, before his transport to the police station. The court determines that these statements were not made as the result of any interrogation conducted by the police, and were spontaneously made by the defendant, without any prompting from the police. The defendant does seek suppression of statements made by him at the police station. In Rhode Island v. Innis, 446 U.S. 291 (1980) the United States Supreme Court held that "the term interrogation under Miranda refers not only to express questioning, but also to any words or actions on the part of the police (other than those normally attendant to arrest and custody) that the police should know are reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response from the suspect. The latter portion of this definition focuses primarily upon the perceptions of the suspect, rather than the intent of the police” Id. at 292.

In the present case, the defendant contends that the mentioning of Angela Sousa's arrest on drug possession charges prompted the defendant to declare that "she had nothing to do with this. Its all me". The defendant asks the court to conclude that Detective Dos Santos was aware that the defendant had made a similar statement at the house as Detective Dos Santos's supplemental police report reported that the defendant had made these statements prior to transport to the police station. At the hearing, Detective Dos Santos testified that his recollection was that he had only been informed by Detective Cote that the defendant had asked to be arrested, upon arrival at his residence. Looking back, Detective Dos Santos, could not be positive as to what statements of the defendant he was aware of, as he brought the defendant to the police station.

In State v. Bragg, 48 A.3d 769, our Law Court considered an appeal from a trial court's denial of the defendant's motion to suppress evidence. In Bragg, the police discovered that Ms. Bragg had gone off of a rural road in Rockport, while on routine patrol. Following observations, and certain field-sobriety tests, Bragg was placed under arrest for OUI. When the police advised her that her blood alcohol test was a .13, Bragg responded that she had thought that when she ordered the second margarita at dinner it was probably a bad idea. Id. at 771. The court ruled that "although we have not yet addressed this exact issue, other courts have recognized that. simply presenting a defendant with evidence against her does not necessarily constitute an interrogation for Miranda purposes, (citing Caputo v. Nelson, 455 F.3d 45, 50-51 (1st Cir. 2006). The court in Bragg, also cited with approval that 'The Innis definition of interrogation is not so broad as to capture within Miranda's reach all declaratory statements made by police officers concerning the nature of the charges against the suspect and the evidence relating to those charge” (citing Easley v. Frey 433 F.3d 969, 974 (7th Cir. 2006). Finally, the court in Bragg concluded that "although Bragg argues that the information was given in such a manner as to be reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response, Ford's statement that her blood alcohol level was over the state limit was, in this context, "a matter of fact communication of the evidence". As the state correctly points out, pursuant to Maine law, Bragg was entitled to that information at her request. ..Given that Bragg was entitled to that information, the officer's simple statement relating that information, though unrequested, does not constitute a statement reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response". Id. Bragg. At 773-774.

In the present case, Detective Dos Santos provided the defendant with a brief summary as to what had occurred and what evidence had been seized. The defendant was not invited to or encouraged to respond to the detective's statement. The defendant reiterated to Detective Dos Santos, what he had informed Detective Cote, at the residence previously, that Angela Sousa had nothing to do with what had been discovered at the residence. Dos Santos stopped the defendant from making any further statements. After the defendant invoked his rights, following a reading of his Miranda warning, the police quickly ended any communication with the defendant. The entire exchange between the defendant and Detective Dos Santos at the police station lasted less than five minutes.

The court cannot conclude that the actions of Detective Dos Santos in providing the defendant with a summary of the evidence against him, and information as to the status of Ms. Sousa, constitutes a statement reasonably likely to elicit an ...

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