Stechauner v. Smith, No. 16-1079 (7th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
While riding in a car, Stechauner’s sawed-off shotgun accidentally fired and hit Stechauner in the leg. At the hospital, a nurse reported that he had a bag of bullets. Officers entered Stechauner’s hospital room, where he was awaiting discharge. Eventually Stechauner produced the bullets and stated that the gun was at a friend’s house. The questioning lasted about 90 minutes. Stechauner “seemed lucid, and … was able to answer.” Stechauner was not given Miranda warnings. Stechauner accompanied officers to his friend’s house, where the gun was found under outdoor steps. Detective Kolatski thought that Stechauner may have been involved in recent robberies and other crimes involving such a weapon. Stechauner went with Kolatski to the station. Hours later, Stechauner was given Miranda warnings and was interrogated. Over the course of nine hours, Stechauner admitted to several crimes. The Wisconsin court denied a motion to suppress, finding that Stechauner was not in custody; Miranda’s warning requirement was not triggered. Stechauner pleaded no contest to second-degree reckless homicide and armed robbery. After unsuccessful efforts to obtain state post-conviction relief, Stechauner sought habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. 2254. The Seventh Circuit affirmed denial, rejecting arguments that the state court admitted Stechauner’s statements and shotgun in violation of Miranda and that Stechauner had received ineffective assistance of appellate counsel by failure to argue that trial counsel had been ineffective at the suppression hearing.