ORDER REGARDING MOTION TO SUPPRESS
February 15, 2018, the Defendant filed a motion to suppress
evidence regarding statements made by the Defendant directly
after a motor vehicle accident, and evidence of a blood draw
taken from the Defendant later at the hospital,
hearing on the Defendant's motion was held before the
Court on April 17, 2018. Evidence presented at the healing
consisted of the testimony of Officer Eric Kelley from the
Belfast Police Department, (hereinafter referred to as
"Kelley"), as well as exhibits admitted into
evidence. The contested issue for the Court's
determination is whether the Defendant voluntarily consented
to the blood draw at the hospital.
testified that he responded to a motor vehicle accident on
September 11, 2017 at approximately 1:50 AM. He observed the
individual later identified as the Defendant, with injuries
to her face. Kelley, who is also an emergency medical
technician, instructed the Defendant not to move due to
concerns regarding potential head injuries. The Defendant was
subsequently extracted from the vehicle by ambulance
personnel and brought to the Waldo County General Hospital
followed the ambulance to the hospital emergency room because
of a concern about possible operation of the motor vehicle by
the Defendant while under the influence of intoxicants.
Kelley testified that, before the ambulance arrived, he could
smell the odor of liquor while near the Defendant and also
described slurred speech on her part. Although Kelley
described the speech as slurred, he testified that the
Defendant seemed to answer his questions appropriately, was
awake the whole time he was questioning her, and he believed
she comprehended what he was saying.
testified that he waited until the emergency room staff had
completed their treatment of the Defendant, and he then began
talking to the Defendant again. At that time, the
Defendant's mother was also present in the hospital room
with the Defendant. Kelley specifically told the Defendant he
needed to take a blood draw, and read a consent form to the
Defendant, Although Kelley acknowledged that the Defendant
was "pretty banged up" and upset at the time, he
testified that she was responsive to his questions and seemed
to understand them. Kelley also testified that had he
believed the Defendant was suffering from a concussion he
would not have completed a blood draw because of his concern
that she would not have been able to have given consent.
the evidence suggests the Defendant's mother participated
in the discussions regarding consent to the blood draw, the
Court does not find the mother pressured the Defendant to
provide consent, or that the mother was acting in concert
with the police. At 2:45 A.M., the Defendant ultimately
signed a written consent form for the blood sample to be
taken. The actual blood draw was taken approximately 20
minutes later at 3:05 AM. (States Exhibit 1).
Defendant's medical records from the night of the
accident diagnose, in part, a head injury noting contusions
to the forehead with two small lacerations. A CT scan of the
defendant's brain and the cervical spine were performed
and no evidence of acute injury was observed. Although the
Defendant's discharge instructions included descriptions
with regard to what to look for with a concussion, nowhere
within the diagnosis, history of present illness, or physical
exam portions contained in the medical records is there any
reference to the defendant having received a concussion.
at the hospital, Kelly did not subject the Defendant to any
further interrogation, and thus Miranda warnings
were not required or given. State v. Lear, 1998 ME
273. The issue for determination is whether the Defendant
voluntarily consented to the blood draw which occurred. The
voluntariness of a consent to a blood draw was addressed by
the Law Court in State v. Carter, 443 A.2d 958 (Me.
1982), a case with a remarkably similar fact pattern, In
Carter, the defendant challenged the consent to the
blood draw which was taken in the hospital subsequent to the
defendant being transported there by ambulance from the motor
vehicle accident scene. In Carter, the defendant
also had sustained an injury to his forehead and appeared
nervous at the time of his interaction with the single law
enforcement officer in the hospital. In Carter, the
defendant's mother was also present at the hospital, at
the time consent was given by the defendant.
Court specifically noted,
the validity of the Defendant's consent rests upon a
finding of voluntariness. Voluntariness, a question of fact,
is determined from all the circumstances. The State has the
burden of proving voluntariness. Carter at 959.
[Internal citations omitted].
all of the circumstances in the pending case, the Court finds
the officer did not act in any coercive manner. The Defendant
was formally advised of the consent information, and signed
the written consent form. The Defendant understood the things
that were being told to her despite being a recent victim of
a motor vehicle accident and under some level of
intoxication. See Carter at 960 citing State v.
Rhoades, 380 A.2d 1023 (Me. 1977).
the Court concludes that the consent given by the Defendant
to the blood draw taken September 11, 2017 was voluntary.
Thereby, the Defendant's motion to ...