Edmonds, et al. v. Oktibbeha County, Mississippi, No. 10-60957 (5th Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff and his mother sued the county under 42 U.S.C. 1983. Plaintiff's sister shot her husband and plaintiff, then thirteen-years-old, confessed to the murder. Plaintiff claimed that the county actors coerced a confession and plaintiff's mother claimed separation from her son while he was confessing violated her rights. The court held that, viewed under the totality of the circumstances, plaintiff's confession was voluntarily given and its introduction at trial did not offend the Fifth Amendment. Although a thirteen-year-old's separation from his mother, his desire to please adults, and his inexperience with the criminal justice system all weigh against voluntariness, his express desire to help his sister decided the issue. There was no evidence that, absent plaintiff's resolve to reduce his sister's punishment, the deputies' interrogation tactics would have produced a confession. The sister may have used her brother's love to make him lie on her behalf, but there was no evidence that the deputies knew of her plan. Looking back on his interrogation after he was released from prison, plaintiff told a national television audience, on the "Dr. Phil" show, that the deputies did not coerce him into confessing. The court rejected the remaining challenges and affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the county.