Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Dallas James Anderson,
Affirmed; motion granted
Mille Lacs County District Court
File No. K3951065
Hubert H. Humphrey III, Attorney General, Alison E. Colton, Catherine M. Keane, Assistant Attorneys General, 1400 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101; and
Jennifer A. Fahey, Mille Lacs County Attorney, Courthouse, Milaca, MN 56353 (for respondent)
Michael F. Cromett, Assistant Public Defender, E-1314 First National Bank Building, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Schumacher, Presiding Judge, Foley, Judge,* and Forsberg, Judge.
Appellant Dallas James Anderson was convicted of murder in the second degree and manslaughter in the first degree involving malicious punishment of his infant son. He appeals from his judgment of conviction. We affirm.
Shortly after the infant died, two plainclothes officers interviewed appellant for two hours in a hospital consultation room. The room had one door, which was closed but unlocked during the interview. Before the interview began, appellant was advised that he was not in custody and could leave at any time. Near the end of the interview, appellant admitted to shoving the infant down a flight of steps. After appellant was asked about the bruises on the victim's chest, appellant stated he wanted to leave and the interview ended. Appellant was charged eight days later.
The trial court denied appellant's pretrial motion to suppress the statements he made at the hospital, finding that appellant was not subjected to a custodial interrogation and thus, no Miranda warning was required. Following his conviction, appellant moved for a new trial alleging (1) prosecutorial misconduct; (2) judicial interference with appellant's right to counsel; and (3) insufficient evidence as a matter of law to sustain the murder conviction. The trial court denied appellant's motion.
Generally, statements made during custodial interrogations are inadmissible at trial unless the suspect is advised of his or her Fifth Amendment rights and intelligently waives the right against self-incrimination. Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 444-45, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 1612-13 (1966). It is well recognized that the physical setting of an interrogation is not dispositive and an individual is "in custody" within the meaning of Miranda if a reasonable person under the circumstances would believe he or she was in police custody of the degree associated with formal arrest. Champion, 533 N.W.2d at 43. A Miranda warning is not required prior to questioning when officers are "simply trying to get a preliminary explanation of a confusing situation." State v. Walsh, 495 N.W.2d 602, 604-05 (Minn. 1993). At a certain point, however, a situation may become custodial, but a Miranda warning is still not required provided that "a reasonable person under the circumstances would not believe that he or she was in police custody of the degree associated with formal arrest." Champion, 533 N.W.2d at 43. Whether a person is arrested at the end of questioning is one factor to consider in determining whether an interrogation was custodial. In the Matter of the Welfare of M.E.P., 523 N.W.2d 913, 919 (Minn. App. 1994), review denied (Minn. Mar. 1, 1995).
In this case, appellant was not subject to any form of physical restraint and nothing obstructed his exit; appellant voluntarily transported himself to the hospital and a social worker brought him to the room where the interview was held; two plainclothes officers conducted the interrogation; when appellant stated that he wanted to leave, the interview ended; and appellant was not charged until eight days later. Under the totality of the circumstances, the trial court properly concluded that no reasonable person being interviewed by a plainclothes officer who subjected the person to no physical restraint would believe that he or she was in custody given the statement that they were not in custody and free to leave at any time.
2. Whether to grant a new trial based on prosecutorial misconduct rests within the trial court's discretion, and we will reverse only when the misconduct, viewed in light of the whole record, "appears to be inexcusable and so serious and prejudicial that defendant's right to a fair trial was denied." State v. Wahlberg, 296 N.W.2d 408, 420 (Minn. 1980). In light of the evidence in this case and the volume of questions asked during voir dire and the trial, we conclude that the conduct of the prosecution was not inexcusable, nor has appellant established prejudicial error.
3. An ineffective assistance claim may be based on governmental interference with the right to counsel. Perry v. Leeke, 488 U.S. 272, 279-80, 109 S. Ct. 594, 599 (1989). The trial court, in the challenged questioning, was responding to the prosecution's request for access to the note pad appellant was observed reading in the courtroom. We do not find that the questions the trial court asked appellant's attorney, which were precipitated by an attempt to protect appellant's rights, interfered with counsel's ability to make independent decisions on how to conduct the defense.
4. This court, when reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence in a criminal conviction appeal, reviews the entire record in the light most favorable to the conviction to determine whether the evidence is sufficient to support a guilty verdict. State v. Webb, 440 N.W.2d 426, 430 (Minn. 1989). When a verdict is based on circumstantial evidence, it is sustained when reasonable inferences from the evidence are consistent with the defendant's guilt and inconsistent with any rational hypothesis other than guilt. State v. Alton, 432 N.W.2d 754, 756 (Minn. 1988). In this case, none of the testimony indicates that the sole possible cause of the infant's death was being shaken versus being shoved down a stairway. The testimony all suggests that the type of head injury the victim suffered could have been caused by some act other than shaking the victim and the jury found that act was trauma inflicted by appellant. The assertion that the infant's mother also had an opportunity to abuse the victim is refuted by testimony that during the time in question appellant was alone with the child and was responsible for getting the infant dressed while the mother took a shower and got ready for a doctor's appointment. Further, all of the infant's bone fractures occurred after appellant and the child's mother began living together. Reviewing the testimony in the light most favorable to the conviction, the evidence is sufficient to support the guilty verdict.
5. Respondent's motion to strike the trial court's suppression order and memorandum found in appellant's appendix, which contains handwritten comments added by appellant, is granted because the handwritten comments are outside of the record. See Midwest Family Mut. Ins. Co. v. AMCO Ins. Co., 422 N.W.2d 758, 760 (Minn. App. 1988), review denied (Minn. June 29, 1988) (striking appendices containing information that was not before the trial court).
Affirmed; motion to strike granted.