State v. Hunter
The Fifth Amendment can require the suppression of the defendant's inculpatory statement, which follows a Miranda warning, if police interrogate the defendant twice, and if the earlier interrogation takes place before Miranda warnings are provided. The police obtained a warrant against the defendant, Garland Hunter, for the alleged murder of Mikyle Frank. Hunter went to Waterbury Superior Court and surrendered to the police. Police Officer Clifton Hodak detained Hunter in a nonpublic area of the Office of Adult Probation. Detective Orlando Rivera questioned Hunter in a Superior Court conference room, without obtaining a written acknowledgment that Hunter received a Miranda warning and was willing to waive his rights. (Rivera claimed that Hunter orally waived his Miranda rights.) Police transported Hunter to the police station. Detective Orlando Rivera provided the Miranda warning and interrogated Hunter again, after Hunter waived his Miranda rights in writing. At the police station, Hunter allegedly admitted that he stabbed Mikyle Frank and identified the murder weapon. Hunter moved to suppress both statements. The state possessed the burden to prove, by a fair preponderance of the evidence, that police provided the Miranda warning(s) before interrogating Hunter and that Hunter knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily waived his rights. The court found that the state failed to prove the detective provided Miranda warnings, before the detective interrogated Hunter at the courthouse. Contradictions in police officers' testimony about police procedures and the interrogation were substantial and material. The absence of a written waiver of the defendant's Miranda rights, in connection with the first interrogation, led to an inference that Miranda warnings were not provided, and that the defendant's statements at the courthouse conference room should be suppressed. A "question first, warn later," strategy of law enforcement has led the U.S. Supreme Court to hold that a confession in a second interrogation must be suppressed, if the police deliberately withheld Miranda warnings, prior to the first interrogation, pursuant to Missouri v. Seibert, a 2004 decision. The court granted the defendant's motion to suppress both statements. The state did not prove it did not deliberately use the "question first, warn later" interrogation technique.