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Mar 02 2012, 8:24 am
of the supreme court,
court of appeals and
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT:
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE:
MARK I. COX
The Mark Cox Law Office, LLC
GREGORY F. ZOELLER
Attorney General of Indiana
GEORGE P. SHERMAN
Deputy Attorney General
COURT OF APPEALS OF INDIANA
BRIAN SCOTT HARTMAN,
STATE OF INDIANA,
APPEAL FROM THE RANDOLPH CIRCUIT COURT
The Honorable Jay L. Toney, Judge
Cause No. 68C01-1002-MR-17
March 2, 2012
OPINION – FOR PUBLICATION
STATEMENT OF THE CASE
In this interlocutory appeal, Brian Scott Hartman (“Hartman”) appeals the denial
of his motion to suppress a statement he made to the police regarding his involvement in
the death of his father, Brian Ellis Hartman (“Father”).
Whether the trial court erred in denying Hartman’s motion to suppress.
On February 22, 2010, while Hartman was incarcerated at the Randolph County
Jail on burglary charges, Randolph County Sheriff’s Department Detective Douglas Fritz
interviewed Hartman about Father. Detective Fritz advised Hartman of his Miranda
rights, and Hartman requested to speak with a specific attorney.
immediately ended the interview.
The following day, Randolph County Sheriff’s Department Detective Tom Pullins
executed two search warrants on Hartman’s property and found Father’s dead body.
Because Detective Pullins routinely informs a person when his property has been
searched, the detective went to the Randolph County Jail, read the search warrants to
Hartman, and asked him if he had any questions. Hartman asked if the detective had
searched the property yet and if he had found anything. Detective Pullins asked Hartman
“if he was indicating that he wanted to speak with [the detectives].” (Tr. 16). Hartman
responded that he did want to speak with them. Detective Pullins took Hartman to an
interview room and reread him his Miranda rights. Hartman indicated that he understood
his rights and then waived his rights and made an incriminating statement to the
detectives about his involvement in Father’s death.
The State charged Hartman with both Murder and class C felony Assisting
Suicide. Hartman filed a motion to suppress his incriminating statement, which the trial
Specifically, the trial court concluded that Hartman initiated the
conversation when he asked the detectives if they had searched the house yet. Hartman
Hartman argues on appeal that the trial court erred in denying his motion to
suppress. Specifically, he contends that when the detective read him the search warrants
and asked him if he had any questions, the detective was, in effect, re-interrogating him
in violation of his request for counsel the previous day. The State responds that there is
no violation in this case because it was Hartman who initiated further communication
with the police when he asked the detective questions about the search warrant and then
told the detective that he wanted to speak with him.
We review the trial court’s denial of a motion to suppress in a manner similar to
other sufficiency matters. Faris v. State, 901 N.E.2d 1123, 1126 (Ind. Ct. App. 2009),
trans. denied. That is, we must determine whether substantial evidence of probative
value supports the trial court’s ruling. Id. In making this determination, we do not
reweigh the evidence, and we consider conflicting evidence in a light most favorable to
the trial court’s ruling.
We also consider any uncontroverted evidence in the
defendant’s favor. Id. If the denial is sustainable on any legal grounds apparent in the
record, we will affirm. Id. In essence, we look at the totality of the specific facts and
circumstances of the situation to determine the admissibility of the statement.
When an individual in custody invokes his right to an attorney, all questioning
must cease, and further interrogation may not take place until counsel has been made
available or the accused initiates further conversation. Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U.S.
477, 484-85 (1981); Owens v. State, 732 N.E.2d 161, 164 (Ind. 2000).
interrogation is allowed only when it is shown by a preponderance of the evidence that
the accused initiated further discussions and knowingly and intelligently waived the right
to counsel he had earlier invoked. Smith v. Illinois, 469 U.S. 91, 95 (1984).
Interrogation has been defined as a process of questioning by law enforcement
officials which lends itself to obtaining incriminating statements. S.D. v. State, 937
N.E.2d 425, 429 (Ind. Ct. App. 2010). Pursuant to Miranda, “interrogation” includes
express questioning and words or action on the part of police that the police know are
reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response from the suspect. White v. State, 772
N.E.2d 408, 412 (Ind. 2002) (citing Rhode Island v. Innis, 446 U.S. 291, 301 (1980)).
The United States Supreme Court has held that the safeguards outlined in Miranda also
apply to the functional equivalent of interrogation by the police. Id. at 301-02.
Here, Detective Pullins, as is his practice, simply read the search warrants to
Hartman and asked him if he had any questions. This was neither express questioning
nor words or action that the detective knew was reasonably likely to elicit an
incriminating response from Hartman. Rather, it was Hartman who initiated further
communication with the detective when he asked about the search warrant and told the
detective that he wanted to speak with him.
Further, although the parties do not offer nor do we find any factually similar
Indiana cases, State v. Person, 104 P.3d 976, 980-83 (Idaho Ct. App. 2004), is
instructive. There, Ada County Sheriff’s Department Detective Pat Schneider and Idaho
State Police Department Detective Kevin Hudgens were questioning Person about a
murder when Person invoked his right to counsel. Both officers immediately ceased
questioning Person and left the room. A few minutes later, Detective Hudgens re-entered
the room and read an arrest warrant to Person that informed him that he was suspected of
murdering the victim. The detective told Person that if he wanted to tell the detectives
anything, this was the time to do it. Person responded that he wanted to talk to the
detectives and subsequently made an incriminating statement. Person filed a motion to
suppress this statement, which the trial court denied.
Specifically, the trial court
concluded that the police had not re-initiated the interrogation but had appropriately
contacted Person to inform him of the charge that he faced. The Idaho Court of Appeals
affirmed this issue on appeal. Id. at 941.
Here, as in Person, Detective Pullins did not re-initiate the interrogation. Rather,
Hartman initiated further communication by asking whether the search warrant had been
served and whether anything had been found, and then told the detective that he wanted
to speak with him. Detective Pullins readvised Hartman of his Miranda rights, which
Hartman said he understood, before Hartman made an incriminating statement, and
Hartman waived these rights. The trial court did not err in denying Hartman’s motion to
suppress this statement.
BAKER, J., and BAILEY, J., concur.