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State v. Palmer

Superior Court of Maine, Kennebec

November 15, 2016

ROWE PALMER, Defendant


          Robert E. Mullen, Deputy Chief Justice.

         This matter came before the undersigned on September 23rd, 2016 with respect to the Defendant's Motion to Suppress filed August 19, 2016. After hearing, and after the Court has had an opportunity to review the relevant case law and statutes, the Court makes the following Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law upon which the Order set forth below is based:

         I. Findings of Fact:

         1. On Monday, January 4, h, 2016 shortly after 4:00 p.m. deputy sheriff Toby Pond (hereinafter "officer") was dispatched to the scene of a multi-motor vehicle accident in the town of Chelsea, Maine. When the officer arrived at the scene he observed two vehicles, both trucks. One of the vehicles was lying on its roof and contained a male and a female. The occupants were removed from the truck by using the "Jaws of Life." Both people were injured.

         2. The Defendant was in the other truck. The windshield was pushed out. It appeared the Defendant was pinned inside his vehicle. Rescue personnel removed Defendant from the vehicle.

         3. The officer eventually learned the names of the other people: Richard Morin, who was life-flighted to Central Maine Medical Center, and Monique Morin, who was transported to Maine General Medical Center (hereinafter "MGMC"). Defendant was originally going to be taken to Eastern Maine Medical Center, but a decision was made to instead take him to MGMC. The officer described Defendant's injuries as "extensive."

         4. The area of the accident scene was in a 45 mph zone. The two vehicles apparently had collided with each other "head-on." The Defendant was taken to the hospital by ambulance 10-15 minutes after the officer arrived. The officer had no contact with the Defendant at the site.

         5. The officer spoke to witnesses who witnessed the collision as well as to medical personnel. Thereafter the officer coordinated a "blood draw" from Defendant as well as Mr. Morin because the officer believed a "death was a possibility"[1] as a result of the accident. The officer drew a conclusion that Defendant's vehicle had crossed the centerline of the road. No emergency personnel at the scene told the officer that death of one or more of the occupants of the motor vehicles involved in the accident was going to occur as a result of the accident.

         6. The officer later learned that the blood kit he had provided to other law enforcement for Defendant had expired. Blood was drawn from the Defendant in the ambulance at a time when apparently Defendant was unconscious.

         7. On January 5, 2016 the officer spoke with Defendant while Defendant was hospitalized. Defendant gave the officer an oral statement[2]. The officer typed up a written statement based upon what the Defendant had told him, read the statement back to Defendant, allowed Defendant to read the statement twice, and then had Defendant sign the statement.

         8. The officer also asked Defendant if Defendant would sign a medical release form. Defendant agreed to do so and in fact did sign on January 5, 2016.

         9. Deputy sheriff Jacob Pierce (hereinafter "Pierce") was on routine patrol on January 4, 2016 at 6:30 p.m. when he was instructed to go to MGMC to obtain a sample of blood from the Defendant.

         10. Pierce arrived at the Emergency Room of MGMC and observed the Defendant, Defendant's wife, and several medical personnel in a room. Pierce was told by emergency personnel that a blood draw from the Defendant had been done while Defendant was in the ambulance. Pierce saw the blood kit that had been used to obtain a sample of the Defendant's blood had expired. Pierce also was told that there had been no witness to the original blood draw from the Defendant other than the person who performed the blood draw.

         11. Pierce left the hospital to obtain another blood kit. He then returned to the hospital where he encountered medical personnel who informed him that Defendant was about to go into surgery. Pierce explained that he needed another blood draw and why. Pierce went into the Defendant's room, and waited for medical personnel "to come down and execute the blood draw." Pierce overheard Defendant telling his family Defendant had consumed "a few beers with lunch." Eventually Pierce made his way over to the Defendant and told Defendant that Pierce needed another blood draw and why, specifically that the original kit had expired and that there were no witnesses to the blood draw. ...

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