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State v. Annis

Supreme Court of Maine

January 25, 2018


          Argued: December 14, 2017

          Jamesa J. Drake, Esq. (orally), Drake Law, LLC, Auburn, for appellant Douglas Annis

          R. Christopher Almy, District Attorney, and Mark A. Rucci, Esq., Asst. Dist. Atty. (orally), Prosecutorial District V, Bangor, for appellee State of Maine


          MEAD, J.

         [¶1] Douglas Annis appeals from a judgment of conviction for possession of sexually explicit materials depicting a minor under twelve years old (Class C), 17-A M.R.S. § 284(1)(C) (2017), entered following his conditional guilty plea. He challenges the order of the motion court (Penobscot County, Campbell, J.) denying his motion to suppress his statements to the police. Annis also directly appeals the condition of his probation that permits him only supervised contact with his infant son; he argues this condition is illegal and violates his rights as a parent. We conclude, based on the court's findings that are supported by the record, that Annis's confession was the product of a free choice of his rational mind, was not caused by the investigator's vague and generalized remark that Annis claims was an improper inducement, and that given the totality of the circumstances, its admission was fundamentally fair. Furthermore, the "no unsupervised contact" provision of Annis's probation was well within the authority of the court pursuant to 17-AM.R.S. § l2O4(2-A) (2017) and did not violate his constitutional rights. We affirm.

         I. BACKGROUND

         [¶2] During the week of July 20, 2014, Annis lost his cell phone while he and his family were at their camp in Township 3 3. Annis's cell phone was found by an acquaintance who discovered that the phone contained pornographic images depicting children and reported this fact to the police. On August 6, 2014, six local law enforcement officers, in marked and unmarked vehicles, from the Hampden Police and the Penobscot County Sherriffs departments executed a search warrant at the Annis residence for "computers and electronic devices" potentially storing child pornography. The police arrived at approximately 6:00 p.m. as Annis and his parents, with whom he lives, were sitting down for dinner; the family cooperated fully with the search. Annis was twenty-two years old at the time.

         [¶3] Two investigators asked to speak with Annis, who was the target of the investigation, outside the residence in an unmarked police cruiser parked in the home's driveway. Annis agreed, and engaged in an interview with one and sometimes both of the investigators for approximately an hour and seven minutes. Their conversation was recorded and entered into evidence at the hearing on the motion to suppress. The court found the following facts concerning the investigators' conversation with Annis.

         [¶4] The lead investigator sat in the driver's seat, next to Annis who was seated in the front passenger seat. The assisting investigator occupied the back seat, directly behind Annis. At the outset and at two other occasions during the interview, Annis asked whether he was under arrest and an investigator repeatedly assured him that he was not. Although no Miranda warnings were read, the lead investigator explained to Annis that he could end the interview at any point and that he did not have to speak with them. Annis, paraphrasing the investigator's explanations, stated his understanding that "I can stop talking at any point." Annis was never restrained in any way during the interview and the doors of the cruiser were unlocked. The investigators and Annis also left the car for a smoke break. The court concluded that the interview was non-custodial in nature as it was, overall, a non-threatening, low-key, and cordial exchange.

         [¶5] From the beginning of the interview, Annis freely acknowledged that he knew that the investigators were speaking to him because someone had found his cell phone and reported to the police that it contained pornographic images of children. Annis informed the investigators that the witness had attempted to extort money from him and his parents in exchange for the witness's silence and agreement not to turn the phone over to the police. Annis further volunteered that his heart was pounding due to his nicotine addiction and that he had "ADHD really bad." At approximately seventeen minutes into the interview, after some inconsequential conversation about how Annis and the lead investigator knew each other from having spoken to one another around town, the investigator told Annis that the police knew that Annis put the child pornography onto his phone. Although Annis's responses were vague and equivocal, he did not deny or refute the statement, instead claiming that he did not remember downloading the content onto his phone.

         [¶6] Approximately twenty minutes into the interview, the lead investigator turned the focus of his questions to addressing child pornography as an addiction:

[Investigator:] ... Just saying that no it didn't happen-people are going to think ... that this guy is not willing to take responsibility for his addiction. So, what is he going to do? First thing we want is for people to take responsibility and say that "Yes, I have a problem."
[Annis:] I can honestly say that I have seen it before because it has been sent to me before and I have ...

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