may not be cited except as provided by
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Filed December 15, 1998
Ramsey County District Court
File No. K498405
Hubert H. Humphrey III, Attorney General, 1400 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101; and Susan Gaertner, Ramsey County Attorney, Mark Nathan Lystig, Assistant County Attorney, 50 Kellogg Boulevard West, Suite 315, St. Paul, MN 55102 (for appellant)
Richard J. Coleman, 295 Marie Avenue East, West St. Paul, MN 55118; and Nicholas P. Slade, 2124 Dupont Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55405 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge, Kalitowski, Judge, and Amundson, Judge.
The state appeals from a pretrial order suppressing three statements respondent made while in police custody. We reverse.
On January 29, 1998, respondent Manuela Etzel was babysitting an 18-month-old at her home in Maplewood when the baby sustained head injuries that resulted in her death. During an investigative interview, Etzel told Maplewood police officers that the baby was injured by falling out of bed.
The following day, Etzel agreed to go to the Maplewood police station for a further interview. There, the officers read Etzel her Miranda rights, she signed a form stating that she understood her rights, and she made a written statement, repeating the explanation that the baby fell out of bed. While still at the police station, Etzel admitted that she shook the baby and that the baby's head may have hit the floor, but Etzel said that she was not angry with the baby and did not intend to hurt her. When the interview was completed, the officers placed Etzel under arrest, and she remained in custody at all times relevant to this appeal.
After the interview, the officers took Etzel to Regions Hospital for a psychological evaluation because of their concern that she was a suicide risk. When the evaluation was finished, Etzel said that she wanted to talk to Officer Meehan again. Because he knew Etzel wanted to speak to him and also because he needed to take her to the Adult Detention Center, Officer Meehan entered Etzel's hospital room. Etzel volunteered that she wanted to confess that she had "struck the child's head on the floor two to three times." Later that day, Etzel was charged with second-degree murder while committing or attempting to commit the felony of third-degree assault.
The following morning, while she was being held at the Adult Detention Center, Etzel contacted a Ramsey County deputy sheriff and told him she wanted to speak to him. Thereafter, two Ramsey County deputy sheriffs and Etzel had a brief conversation, most of which was recorded. After one deputy asked Etzel whether she understood her Miranda rights, she said she did not understand the role of an attorney, and that she wanted to "talk to someone who [knew] the story." She agreed that person was the Maplewood police investigator. The deputy sheriffs ended the conversation and turned off the tape-recorder. As the deputies were preparing to leave, Etzel volunteered that on the day of the incident she may have been "angry" because she "broke a lamp earlier that day" and because "the baby didn't do anything at [her] house, it just laid there." Etzel also said that after she "put the baby's head on the floor two times," the baby's eyes rolled back in her head.
After the deputy sheriffs contacted the Maplewood police, Sergeant Youngren and Officer Meehan went to the Adult Detention Center. Etzel told them she did not want to speak to them without an attorney present. As the officers prepared to leave, Sergeant Youngren asked Etzel about the broken lamp, and she replied that the lamp "had absolutely nothing to do with what happened" to the baby.
At the Rasmussen hearing, the district court ruled that Etzel's statements on January 30, 1998, at the Maplewood police station were admissible. But it suppressed Etzel's statement to Officer Meehan at Regions Hospital on the grounds that (1) the statement was not recorded, (2) the officer did not give Etzel a new Miranda warning, and (3) the statement was involuntary in the "totality of the circumstances." The court also suppressed Etzel's statement to the Ramsey County deputy sheriffs at the Adult Detention Center on the ground that Etzel did not knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waive her rights. Finally, the court suppressed Etzel's statement to the Maplewood police officers at the Adult Detention Center on the ground that "she wished to have an attorney present before any further statements would be made." In a June 9, 1998, order, the district court confirmed its oral rulings, adding that Officer Meehan's actions at Regions Hospital were the equivalent of an interrogation of Etzel.
In an appeal from a pretrial order suppressing evidence in a criminal case, this court defers to the trial court's determination unless
the state demonstrates clearly and unequivocally that the trial court has erred in its judgment and that, unless reversed, the error will have a critical impact on the outcome of the trial.
State v. Edrozo, 578 N.W.2d 719, 722 (Minn. 1998) (quoting State v. Webber, 262 N.W.2d 157, 159 (Minn. 1977)). The suppression of evidence has a critical impact when "`the lack of the suppressed evidence significantly reduces the likelihood of a successful prosecution.'" Id. at 723 (quoting State v. Joon Kyu Kim, 398 N.W.2d 544, 551 (Minn. 1987)).
To prove second-degree murder, the state must show that Etzel "cause[d] the death" of the baby, without intent, "while committing or attempting to commit a felony." Minn. Stat. § 609.19, subd. 2(1) (1996) (providing elements of second-degree murder). To prove the felony of third-degree assault, the state must show that Etzel either acted "with intent to cause fear in another of immediate bodily harm or death" or intentionally inflicted bodily harm on the baby. Minn. Stat. §§ 609.02, subd. 10 (1996) (defining assault as intentional action), 609.223, subd. 3 (1996) (providing person who assaults "a victim under the age of four, and causes bodily harm to the child's head, eyes, or neck" is guilty of third-degree assault).
I. Statement to Officer Meehan at Regions Hospital
Etzel's statement to Officer Meehan at Regions Hospital includes an admission that she "struck the child's head on the floor two to three times," which is evidence that she intentionally assaulted the baby and caused bodily harm to the baby's head, resulting in death. Lack of this evidence would "significantly reduce the likelihood of a successful prosecution." Edrozo, 578 N.W.2d at 723 (citation omitted). Etzel's statement is important evidence of her state of mind. See id. (stating defendant's "own words are directly relevant and highly probative of his state of mind"). We conclude that suppression of Etzel's statement at Regions Hospital would have a critical impact on the case.
The district court determined that Officer Meehan committed a Scales violation by not recording Etzel's statement at Regions Hospital. See State v. Scales, 518 N.W.2d 587, 592 (Minn. 1994) (providing police shall electronically record custodial interrogation where feasible and must record questioning when it occurs in place of detention). Interrogation includes words and actions by police that the "police should know are reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response." State v. Lynch, 477 N.W.2d 743, 746 (Minn. App. 1991) (quoting Rhode Island v. Innis, 446 U.S. 291, 301, 100 S. Ct. 1682, 1689-90 (1980)). Here, Officer Meehan entered Etzel's hospital room because he knew she wanted to speak to him and because he needed to take her to the Adult Detention Center. Officer Meehan asked Etzel no questions. Entering a room is not an act "reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response." There is nothing in the record to support the district court's conclusion that Officer Meehan's actions were the "functional equivalent of questioning." Because Officer Meehan did not interrogate Etzel, the Scales recording requirements did not apply.
The district court also concluded that Officer Meehan violated Etzel's rights by failing to give her a new Miranda warning when he entered her hospital room. Because Officer Meehan did not interrogate Etzel at Regions Hospital, he was not required to give her a Miranda warning. See Innis, 446 U.S. at 300-01, 100 S. Ct. at 1689 (stating police must provide Miranda warning before conducting custodial interrogation). But even if he had interrogated Etzel at the hospital, a new Miranda warning would not be necessary because Officer Meehan provided one to her earlier that day. See State v. Andrews, 388 N.W.2d 723, 731-32 (Minn. 1986) (stating when police provide "careful and comprehensive" Miranda warning before one interrogation, they need not provide another warning before second interrogation later that same day); State v. Reilly, 269 N.W.2d 343, 347 (Minn. 1978) (concluding Miranda warning provided for interrogation in morning was sufficient to satisfy warning requirement for interrogation in afternoon).
Finally, the district court concluded that Etzel's statement at Regions Hospital was involuntary, based on "the stress and the circumstances." The court specifically referred to the facts that Etzel had just undergone a mental health evaluation, was separated from her children, and was under arrest. To determine whether a statement was voluntary, a court "must make an independent determination based on the totality of the circumstances." State v. Miller, 573 N.W.2d 661, 673 (Minn. 1998). Factors relevant to a consideration of the totality of the circumstances include
the defendant's age, maturity, intelligence, education, experience, and the ability to comprehend; the adequacy or lack of a warning; the length and legality of the detention; the nature of the interrogation; and whether the defendant was denied access to family and friends or deprived of physical needs.
Id. (citing State v. Camacho, 561 N.W.2d 160, 170 (Minn. 1997)).
The facts that Etzel had undergone a mental health evaluation and was upset about not seeing her children are insufficient to make her statement involuntary. See Andrews, 388 N.W.2d at 730-31 (stating "coherent and responsive" defendant who is "deeply upset" is still able to confess voluntarily). And the fact that a statement is made while the declarant is under arrest does not make it involuntary. See, e.g., State v. Moorman, 505 N.W.2d 593, 600 (Minn. 1993) (concluding confession made while under arrest was voluntary). Nothing in the record suggests that Officer Meehan coerced Etzel into making the statement at Regions Hospital. See State v. Williams, 535 N.W.2d 277, 287 (Minn. 1995) ("Coercive police activity is a necessary predicate to the finding that a confession is not `voluntary' within the meaning of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.") (citation omitted). We conclude that Etzel made her statement at Regions Hospital voluntarily and suppression of the statement was clear error.
II. Statement to Ramsey County Deputy Sheriffs at Adult Detention Center
Etzel told Ramsey County deputy sheriffs at the Adult Detention Center that she may have been "angry" at the time of the incident because she had "broke[n] a lamp earlier that day" and because "the baby didn't do anything at [her] house, it just laid there." She also admitted that she "put the baby's head on the floor two times."
In Edrozo, the supreme court explained that the defendant's confession, which revealed intent to commit an assault, was "important to the state's burden of proving defendant's state of mind" and ruled that suppression of the statement would significantly reduce the prosecution's chance of success. Edrozo, 578 N.W.2d at 723. Here, Etzel's statement to the Ramsey County deputy sheriffs similarly is evidence that she was upset at the time of the incident and that she intended to harm the baby. Accordingly, suppression of her statement to the Ramsey County deputy sheriffs at the Adult Detention Center would critically impact the state's case.
The district court suppressed Etzel's statement on the ground that she "did not freely, voluntarily, and intelligently waive her rights." The state argues that suppression was error because Miranda rights are not triggered in the absence of custodial interrogation and the deputies did not interrogate Etzel. See Innis, 446 U.S. at 300-01, 100 S. Ct. at 1689 ("Miranda safeguards come into play whenever a person in custody is subjected to either express questioning or its functional equivalent."). We agree. Nothing in the record indicates that the deputies interrogated Etzel, either by questioning her or by their actions. Rather, Etzel initiated the conversation. Before asking Etzel why she wanted to speak with him, the deputy sheriff asked her if she understood her Miranda rights and ended the conversation when he determined that she did not understand the role of an attorney. The conversation concluded before any interrogation began. Because there was no interrogation, the question of whether Etzel waived her Miranda rights does not arise.
In the absence of custodial interrogation,
[a]ny statement given freely and voluntarily without any compelling influences is, of course, admissible in evidence. * * * Volunteered statements of any kind are not barred by the Fifth Amendment * * * .
Edrozo, 578 N.W.2d at 725 (quoting Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 478, 86 S. Ct. 1602, 1630 (1966)). Here, as the deputies put away the tape-recorder and prepared to leave, Etzel reinitiated the conversation and began speaking; her statement was not in response to a question. The deputies did not exert any compelling influence on her or coerce her into talking. The statement, therefore, was given voluntarily. See Williams, 535 N.W.2d at 287 ("Coercive police activity is a necessary predicate to the finding that a confession is not `voluntary' * * * .") (citation omitted). The district court's suppression of Etzel's statement to the Ramsey County deputy sheriffs at the Adult Detention Center was clear error.
III. Statement to Maplewood Police Officers at Adult Detention Center
The state concedes that Etzel's statement to Maplewood police officers while at the Adult Detention Center cannot be used in its case-in-chief, but it argues the statement should be available for whatever value it might have for impeachment. See State v. Coleman, 560 N.W.2d 717, 720 (Minn. App. 1997) (stating prosecution cannot use statement obtained in violation of Miranda in its case-in-chief but may use statement to impeach defendant's conflicting trial testimony) (citing Harris v. New York, 401 U.S. 222, 224-26, 91 S. Ct. 643, 645-46 (1971)). The district court found that the statement would be inadmissible in the state's case-in-chief, but it did not consider whether the statement would be available for impeachment. Accordingly, the issue is not properly before this court, and we decline to review it. See Thiele v. Stich, 425 N.W.2d 580, 582 (Minn. 1988) ("A reviewing court must generally consider `only those issues that the record shows were presented and considered by the trial court * * * .'") (citation omitted). If use of the statement for the purpose of impeaching Etzel later becomes an issue, the district court can then rule on it.