September 17, 2015
briefs: David S. Bobrow, Esq., Bedard & Bobrow, P.C., Eliot,
for appellant Moses King.
Anderson, District Attorney, and Angela Cannon, Asst. Dist.
Atty., Prosecutorial District No. Two, Portland, for appellee
State of Maine.
argument: David J. Bobrow, Esq., for appellant Moses King.
Cannon, Asst. Dist. Atty., for appellee State of Maine.
SAUFLEY, C.J., and MEAD, JABAR, HJELM, and HUMPHREY, JJ.
[¶1] Moses King appeals from a judgment of
conviction of criminal threatening (Class D), 17-A M.R.S.
§ 209(1) (2015), entered in the Unified Criminal Docket
(Cumberland County, Kelly, J. ) after a jury trial.
Before trial, King moved to suppress statements that he had
made after police officers stopped King's vehicle, took
his license and registration, and asked him to wait for a
detective to arrive on the scene. The suppression court (
O'Neil, J. ) granted the motion in part, but
denied the motion as to the statements that King made before
he was placed in handcuffs and formally arrested. At trial,
the State played for the jury a video recording of the
statements that King made before his formal arrest.
[¶2] In this appeal, King argues that the
suppression court erred by denying his motion in part because
(1) the stop of his vehicle was not based on a reasonable,
articulable suspicion; (2) his statements were made
involuntarily; and (3) he was subjected to a custodial
interrogation and had not received Miranda warnings
before he was formally arrested. Based upon our de novo
review of the factual circumstances attending King's
stop, wait, and subsequent questioning, we conclude that King
was subjected to a custodial interrogation before he was
formally arrested and advised of his Miranda rights,
and that evidence of King's pre-arrest statements was
therefore inadmissible against him at trial. We accordingly
vacate the judgment of conviction and the order denying the
motion to suppress, and remand for further proceedings.
[¶3] The following facts are derived from
the suppression court's express findings, the
detective's testimony at the suppression hearing, and a
video recording played at the suppression
[¶4] On November 9, 2013, a woman reported
that she had been assaulted by a man in a cemetery in South
Portland. The woman later provided a description of the
assailant and his vehicle to a detective of the South
Portland Police Department who was assigned to investigate
the case. On December 27, 2013, the woman called the
detective and told him that she had seen her assailant drive
past her as she was walking near the 7-Eleven on Congress
Street in Portland. She also sent the detective a text
message that contained the license plate number of the
vehicle she had seen. The woman was adamant that the man she
had seen in the vehicle was the same man who had assaulted
her in the cemetery, and she told the detective that she
would " stick the lives of her kids on it."
[¶5] When the detective received the
woman's phone call, he was off-duty and exiting a grocery
store located about ten minutes away from the 7-Eleven. After
answering the call, the detective drove to his residence in a
nearby town to remove groceries from his vehicle. While he
was driving, the detective contacted dispatch and directed
the Portland Police Department to locate and stop the vehicle
that the woman had described. As the detective was pulling
into his driveway, he was advised that Portland police
officers had stopped the suspect's vehicle. The detective
asked the officers to detain the suspect. He then put his
groceries away and proceeded to the scene.
[¶6] While the detective was en route, the
blue lights on the police cruiser detaining the suspect's
vehicle remained activated. One of the officers on the scene
asked for the suspect's license and registration, and
asked him to wait for an agent from another jurisdiction to
arrive. The suspect, Moses King, surrendered his license and
registration. At some point, a second officer approached
King's vehicle and reiterated that they were " just
waiting for that South Portland [detective] to come down and,
uh, he has a couple of questions for you." King
responded, " Alright," and the officer invited him
to roll up his window to stay warm. The officers talked on
the sidewalk while waiting. They did not return King's
license and registration before the detective arrived.
[¶7] The detective arrived on the scene more
than fifteen minutes after King was stopped. He determined
that King and his vehicle matched the description that the
woman had provided, then approached King's vehicle,
introduced himself, and asked whether King would mind exiting
the vehicle. Less than three minutes later, the detective
stated, " I just got a feeling it's you, and if
it's you, you might as well just tell me the truth."
He continued, " There was a [woman] that was picked up
and assaulted . . . and I got a feeling it's you because
not only does this car match the description, but she saw you
[¶8] King responded, " Yeah I did pick
a woman up that day and . . . we went over to South Portland
to do a job whatever and . . . once she got the money she . .
. said 'It's time to leave.' . . . . She started
walking off and I said, 'You know how far it is to the
road, don't you?' It's like a mile back in the
cemetery there where I was, and she said 'What do you
mean a mile?'" King stated that he had responded,
" You didn't see how far we drove in
here?'" King further explained, " She
didn't want ...