ORDER ON MOTION TO SUPPRESS
A. Wheeler Active Retired Justice
is Daniel Wheatley's motion to suppress evidence arising
out of statements made by him to Detective Daniel L. Violette
of the Westbrook Police Department on January 14, 2015
concerning sexual contact from the period of 1991 to 1998
with Travis, when Travis was under 14-years of
Wheatley is charged with eight counts of gross sexual
assault, Class A, 17-A M.R.S.A. § 253(1}(B). Wheatley
alleges in his motion that any statements he made were
involuntary and made in the absence of the Miranda
warnings under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436.
478-79, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed. 694 (1966). Wheatley relies
in part on the fact that he is of below-average intelligence
and was ill, throwing up at least six times during the
interview. His morion raises questions about his ability to
comprehend the circumstances and able to voluntarily make a
hearing on the motion to suppress, the State presented three
witnesses, Peter Donnelly, Psy.D. and Detectives Violette and
Desjardins of the Westbrook Police Department. The parties
also stipulated to the admission of the forensic evaluation
of Mr. Wheatley as well as a three-part audio/video police
interview of Mr. Wheatley. After considering all of the
evidence, this court concludes for the reasons set forth
below that the motion to suppress is granted.
record contains these facts bearing upon voluntariness of
Wheatley's statement. The court focuses on voluntariness
because the detectives did not advise Wheatley of his Miranda
rights and that omission relates directly to Wheatley's
ability to understand whether he was in custody or subject to
interrogation and hence capable of voluntarily making a
Violette and Desjardins went to Wheatley's residence,
dressed in plain clothes and identified themselves as
detectives with the Westbrook Police Department. They stated
that they wanted to talk to Wheatley "about a matter
they were investigating relating to Travis." The
detectives inquired whether he would come to the Public
Safety Building to speak with the detectives. Once Wheatley
said he would, the Detectives left. Just before they left,
Wheatley asked whether he would need a lawyer. Detective
Violette responded, "It is up to you." Detective
Desjardin queried, "Why, do you need one?" Wheatley
experienced the detectives' responses as confrontational.
At no time, either at the residence or during the interview
at the station, did the detectives advise Wheatley of the
rights described in Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S.
436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966).
speaking with the officers, Wheatley showered, shaved and
drove to the Westbrook Public Safety Building where Detective
Violette met him in the vestibule of the Building. Detective
Violette escorted him to the interview room in the Criminal
Investigation Office. The interview room was 12 x 12, with
one door and a table with three chairs. The room was equipped
with audio and video recording devices, which were activated
without Wheatley's knowledge! Detective Desjardins
monitored the interview in the monitoring room.
Violette closed the door, stating "I closed the door for
your privacy; don't want you to feel trapped in
here." Violette told him that he met with Travis and
wanted to discuss "stuff' reported by Travis
yesterday. He told Wheatley that they discussed generally
everything from when he was a child to the present. Violette
stated that the discussion with Travis focused on Wheatley;
revolved around Travis and Wheatley's relationship; and
about Travis's mother being Wheatley's sister Ann.
Violette advised Wheatley that Travis reported you and him
were involved in sexual relations for an extended period of
time. Violette told Wheatley, "Help me understand."
Wheatley responded, "I know nothing about this. I took
care of him since he was in diapers." Violette inquired,
whether Wheatley was Travis' father. When Wheatley
responded, "I don't know", Detective Violette
inquired, "is it don't know or don't want to
talk about it?" Wheatley responded, "Possibly
both." Wheatley's facial expressions disclosed an
anguished or troubled individual as the interview proceeded.
Violette told Wheatley that Travis wanted to talk about that,
that you or one of your brothers is his father. Detective
Violette advised Wheatley, for the first time, he wants to
help Travis find closure on that issue.
during the few times Wheatley spoke during the interview,
Wheatley moved off topic, such as discussing whether Travis
has limitations. The Detective sat to Wheatley's left and
did most of the talking. Wheatley looked away from the
Detective, staring off into the distance over his right
shoulder. Wheatley went off topic again when Travis'
girlfriend was mentioned. Violette brought him back on topic
by stating, "Travis talked about the unusual
relationship you have with each other; that is the focus of
conversation with him and what I want to discuss with
you." Detective Violette emphasized he was "on a
quest for the truth." Throughout the interview, Violette
continued to do most of the talking, repeating his statements
and lecturing Wheatley on how he wants the truth from
finally said, "I told him I could be his father, "
immediately throwing up, grabbing his stomach. Wheatley
vomited at least six times during the hour and half
interview, making contortions with his body, gagging, and
appearing to be ill. At no time did Wheatley ask for help,
nor did the officers offer him any help or stop the interview
for him to calm down and gather himself. Indeed sometimes
Detective Violette talked over Wheatley's vomiting.
Finally Wheatley reported he told Travis that he was 99.9%
sure he is his father.
Violette moved on to their special relationship, stating
"you grew up almost like brothers; there was a fair
amount of sexual contact. Travis said started when 6-7 years
old in his mom's house. Travis said the last time this
occurred was in 2012." Wheatley's response was,
"I don't know where this is coming from."
Wheatley continued to deny any knowledge of these allegations
of Travis. Detective Violette repeated that he is having a
hard time believing that Travis made this up. Violette
repeated, "My goal is to find out the truth about
everything. Everything Travis said appeared to the
halfway through the interview Detective Desjardins entered to
emphasize the need for Wheatley to tell the truth. Desjardins
commented that obviously Wheatley was very stressed, throwing
up when he came clean, and telling Wheatley that the truth
about his sexual contact with Travis was the next hurdle he
needed to overcome. Wheatley remained silent throughout
Detective Desjardins' lecture. Desjardins repeated that
Wheatley needed to tell the truth. When Wheatley vomited
again, Desjardins left the room. Wheatley remained sullen and
anguished throughout most of the interview.
advised Wheatley, "You are going to tell the truth
before you leave this -building." In responding to
Violette's repeated questions, Wheatley finally admitted,
"The sex was consensual and never was anything forced
upon Travis." Violette repeated to Wheatley, "We
can't get closure until you get the weight of this off
your shoulders. No more secrets." Violette continued to
do the talking. Eventually Wheatley asked, "What else
did Travis say?" When Violette responded, "The ...