This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).







State of Minnesota,





Todd Walter Martin,




Filed March 26, 2002


Anderson, Judge


Clearwater County District Court

File No. K70150


Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Kelly O’Neill Moller, Assistant Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN  55103; and


Kip O. Fontaine, Clearwater County Attorney, 213 Main Avenue N., Dept. 301, Bagley, MN  56621 (for respondent)


Jason D. Pederson, 514 America Avenue NW, P.O. Box 8800, Bemidji, MN  56619 (for appellant)


            Considered and decided by Harten, Presiding Judge, Anderson, Judge, and Stoneburner, Judge.


U N P U B L I S H E D  O P I N I O N



            Appellant Todd Martin was charged with possession of a short-barreled shotgun, a violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.67, subd. 2 (2000).  Appellant sought an order from the district court suppressing his incriminating statements, claiming that the statements were made while he was in custody without receiving any Miranda warnings. 

            The district court denied appellant’s motion to suppress his statements, and the matter was submitted to the district court pursuant to a Lothenbach stipulation.  The district court found appellant guilty of possession of a short-barreled gun and this appeal, contesting the court order denying the suppression motion, followed.  Because we conclude that the district court did not err in denying appellant’s suppression motion, we affirm. 


            In late October 1998, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) investigated the death of Leisa Martin.  Two search warrants were issued.  One search warrant was for the house and surrounding property of Leimona Martin, Leisa’s mother.  The other search warrant was for appellant’s car.  On December 16, 1998, special agent Hagenah of the BCA and more than ten other officers executed the warrants.  The warrants had been issued based, in part, on previous questioning of appellant. 

            While Hagenah coordinated the search, appellant was at the house moving from room to room.  Hagenah periodically engaged appellant in conversation to ask questions to facilitate the search of the home.  He never asked appellant to stay in the house or near the premises.  But police squad cars did park behind appellant’s car, blocking the driveway; further, appellant could not use his vehicle because it was subject to a search warrant. 

            Hagenah was informed that a short-barreled shotgun was found at the “shop,” an area located on the Martin property.  Hagenah and appellant had a recorded conversation in the front driveway regarding whether appellant would take a polygraph about his sister’s death.  Hagenah then questioned appellant about the shotgun, which appellant admitted owning; this admission was recorded.  During the conversation, there was no show of force and appellant was not under arrest when Hagenah questioned him about the shotgun.


            This court conducts an independent review when evaluating a district court’s determination regarding custody and the need for a Miranda warning.  See State v. Wiernasz, 584 N.W.2d 1, 1 (Minn. 1998); State v. Shoen, 578 N.W.2d 708, 716 (Minn. 1998). 

            In Miranda, the United States Supreme Court recognized that * * * a criminal defendant has the right not to incriminate himself and to be informed of that right. 


State v. Miller, 573 N.W.2d 661, 670 (Minn. 1998) (citing Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 444, 86 S. Ct. 1602, 1612 (1966)).  These rights only attach when a suspect is subject to custodial interrogation.  Id.

            When a court is determining if a suspect was in custody, the court must use an objective test and ask whether “a reasonable person in the suspect’s situation [would] have understood that he was in custody[.]”  Id. (citing State v. Hince, 540 N.W.2d 820, 823 (Minn. 1985)).  The “district court must examine all of the surrounding circumstances” to determine “whether a reasonable person in the suspect’s position would have believed he was in custody to the degree associated with arrest.”  Id. (citations omitted).[1] 

            In this case, appellant cannot meet the custody test outlined in Miller.  First, the law-enforcement officers never asked appellant to stay at his home while they conducted the search.  Second, none of the formalities associated with an arrest ensued during the questioning.  Third, appellant was never told he was under arrest.  Cf. State v. Olson, 634 N.W.2d 224, 229 (Minn. App. 2001) (concluding that officer stating “[you are] under arrest” is indication of custody), review denied (Minn. Dec. 11, 2001). 

            Appellant’s freedom was not restrained, and certainly not to a degree consistent with formal arrest, such as handcuffing.  Cf. State v. Moorman, 505 N.W.2d 593, 599 (Minn. 1993) (person under arrest when handcuffed).  He moved about his home freely.  See State v. Hagen, 361 N.W.2d 407, 411 (Minn. App. 1985)(holding no custodial interrogation where defendant was allowed to move freely during execution of warrant), review denied (Minn. Apr. 18, 1985).  He only stayed at the home after agreeing with his mother that she should leave because she had other commitments.  Appellant’s brother came home, saw that the search was being conducted, and left with the police still at the home.  There is minimal evidence in the record that appellant’s freedom to come or go as he pleased was in any way restricted.

            Further, appellant was not arrested after the questioning, which supports the conclusion that the questioning was noncustodial.  See generally Oregon v. Mathiason, 429 U.S. 492, 97 S. Ct. 711 (1977) (concluding that interrogation was noncustodial partially because suspect was not arrested after interview).  While Hagenah seized the short-barreled shotgun, he did not arrest appellant for the offense on that day.[2] 

            A reasonable person in appellant’s position would not have felt that “he was in custody to the degree associated with [an] arrest.”  Miller, 573 N.W.2d at 670.  Appellant’s statement was made during noncustodial questioning, and, therefore the statement did not need to be prefaced by Miranda warnings.  Applying the Miller custody test, we conclude the district court did not err by denying appellant’s motion to suppress the statement.


[1] Appellant also argues that State v. Kelly, 435 N.W.2d 807 (Minn. 1989), dictates that his statement must be suppressed.  But Kelly deals with in-home, prearrest questioning.  Here, appellant was not in his home when he made his statement to Hagenah; therefore, Kelly simply does not apply. 

[2]The tape recording of the conversation between the agent and appellant provides only one indicia of a custodial interrogation.  See In re Welfare of G.S.P., 610 N.W.2d 651, 658 (Minn. App. 2000) (holding officer’s tape recording of interview was “strongly suggestive of a custodial interrogation”).  But this factor is overwhelmed by other indicia that suggest a lack of custodial interrogation or formal arrest.