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JARMANS v. UNITED STATES

August 8, 1969

Harry F. JARMANS, Jr., Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES of America, Respondent



The opinion of the court was delivered by: JONES

 On December 14, 1962, after a trial in Criminal Case No. 404-62 lasting 13 days, petitioner was found guilty by a jury of first degree premeditated murder of Olive Minard. In compliance with the statute - 22-2404, D.C.Code (1967) - the Court on December 21, 1962, sentenced Jarmans to life imprisonment as the jury had recommended by unanimous vote. No appeal was taken. Petitioner now seeks to have the sentence set aside. His motion for such relief, filed, briefed and argued by his Court appointed counsel is before the Court for determination.

 The motion, filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ┬ž 2255, asserts that confessions admitted in evidence at the 1962 trial were not voluntary but instead resulted from petitioner's intoxicated condition or from his state of mental illness or both. *fn1"

 In order to properly understand the issue presented by petitioner's motion, a review of the evidence adduced at the criminal trial is necessary. There it was made known that in April 1959, Jarmans and Grace Victoria Gardner, "Vicky", were married. This marriage resulted in a happy relationship until 1960 when Jarmans became enamored with a girl named Nadine, a friend of his wife. He requested his wife, Vicky, to agree to a divorce and upon her refusal he discontinued living with her.

 In September 1961, Jarmans stole a motor vehicle. Upon being apprehended and indicted he was committed to St. Elizabeth's Hospital for a mental examination. He was found to be without mental illness and he pleaded guilty to the charge of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. On March 1, 1962, imposition of sentence was suspended and he was placed on probation for three years.

 Shortly after being placed on probation Jarmans concluded that Vicky would not agree to a divorce and thus permit him to marry Nadine. It was then he conceived a plan to stab several unknown women in the neighborhood of his wife's home and, ultimately, to stab and kill his wife while she was walking on the street. The earlier stabbings, he hoped, would divert suspicion from him and allow him to marry Nadine and lead a normal life after his wife's death.

 On April 16, 1962, Jarmans, who had returned to work at the Maryland Supermarket after being released on probation, left his place of employment shortly after 9 P.M. He carried a butcher knife with him. From 13th and Pennsylvania Avenue, Southeast, he rode with some co-workers as far as Minnesota and Pennsylvania Avenues. Walking north on Minnesota Avenue he observed Olive Minard, who was a stranger to him, alight from a bus on the corner of 31st and Minnesota Avenue. Jarmans followed her and stabbed her once in the back. As Mrs. Minard turned to face him Jarmans stabbed her in the chest several times. Then, following a circuitous and secluded route, he went home.

 Two nights later, April 18, Jarmans went to visit his estranged wife at 1902 Q Street, N.W. where she lived with her parents. He told her if she didn't hurry and get a divorce he would "cut [her] liver out." The threat did not frighten her. Jarmans then told her that he had murdered Olive Minard; he told her the corner on which the murder occurred and he showed her his cut hand and the murder weapon. Except for what he said, Mrs. Jarmans observed nothing unusual about her husband's behavior.

 The next day, Thursday, April 19, 1962, about 2:15 P.M. Jarmans returned to Vicky's home. Her mother and father were out of the house. Again Jarmans told her of the killing, but this time he also told her of his plan to kill several women in order to avoid suspicion when he finally killed her. Then, however, he told her his conscience was bothering him and he was going to leave town. Vicky Jarmans believed that the story of the murder was told merely to scare her. She told her husband she didn't believe him and said that if he did do it he should call the police. To that Jarmans responded:

 
"Do you think I am chicken? I am not chicken and I will show you and I will call the police."

 Then he picked up the phone, called the police and spoke to Officer Robert Evans Smith. He told Smith that he was the one who had killed the woman on Monday night and he gave his name and address. He said he had stabbed her with a knife which he had taken from the Maryland Supermarket. He told Smith that the motive was not robbery and he gave the name of his probation officer. He would not give the address from which he was making the call. He hung up the phone and left the house.

 About 3:30 A.M. the next morning, April 20, Officers Bigelow and Wheeler of the Metropolitan Police Department observed a 1949 Chevrolet traveling south on the 4500 block of Benning Road, Southeast. The officers knew the car to be stolen and when it pulled into one driveway to the shopping center parking lot on that street, the squad car pulled into the other driveway. Both cars stopped at almost the same time. As Officer Bigelow got out of the passenger side of the squad car, Harry Jarmans got out of the Chevrolet. Jarmans was carrying two butcher knives. He said that he was "Jarmans" and that the police probably wanted him. Jarmans turned the knives around and handed them to Bigelow by the handles and the officer asked if he knew anything about a murder at 31st and N Streets, Southeast. Jarmans replied,

 
"Yes. I killed that lady. But it wasn't at 31st and N. It was 31st and K Street, Southeast."

 Jarmans said he was glad to get this "off his mind."

 Jarmans was then placed in the squad car. As Bigelow walked over to close the door on the Chevrolet from which Jarmans had emerged, Jarmans said: "There is a gun under the front seat." Bigelow retrieved the gun and Jarmans was taken to the 14th Precinct.

 On the way to the station house Bigelow asked Jarmans which knife was used in the killing. Jarmans replied: "The one with the blood on it was the one I used to kill the lady with." He added that he was glad it was "all over with." Jarmans also said that he had stolen the car he was driving. The three men arrived at the precinct station house about 3:40 A.M. and Jarmans was booked for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and carrying a dangerous weapon.

  At the station house, Jarmans was interviewed by Lieutenant Donohue and Detective O'Brien about 4:20 A.M. He was told he did not have to make a statement *fn2" but said he wanted to tell the "whole truth" about the killing. Jarmans gave a complete oral statement, finishing about 4:40 A.M.

 Shortly after giving his oral statement to Donohue and O'Brien, Jarmans was taken to 31st and K Street, Southeast, where he reenacted the crime. Thereafter, at 5:35 A.M. on April 20, 1962, Jarmans signed an inculpatory statement. The reenactment of the crime and the written signed statement were excluded from evidence. Jarmans' oral statements of April 18 and 19 to his wife, his telephone statement of April 19 to Officer Smith, and his April 20 oral statement to Officers Bigelow and Wheeler and to Officers Donohue and O'Brien were received in evidence. *fn3" The question of the voluntariness of the admitted oral statement of Jarmans was submitted to the jury with full instructions. *fn4"

 I

 Jarmans' pro se motion to vacate the life sentence imposed contended that it was error to admit into evidence the oral statements Jarmans made to Officers Bigelow and Wheeler at the time of his arrest and to Officers Donohue and O'Brien between 4:20 and 4:40 A.M. on April 20, 1962, because, he argued, he was in a drunken condition when those statements were made. ...


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