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United States v. Brown

August 05, 1999

UNITED STATES, APPELLANT,
v.
EMANUEL BROWN, APPELLEE.



Before Schwelb, Farrell, and Ruiz, Associate Judges.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Farrell, Associate Judge

Notice: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in the Atlantic and Maryland Reporters. Users are requested to notify the Clerk of the Court of any formal errors so that corrections may be made before the bound volumes go to press.

Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia

(Hon. Michael L. Rankin, Trial Judge)

Argued June 24, 199

Decided August 5, 1999

The requirement that the police advise a suspect in accordance with Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), is triggered by custodial interrogation. See id. at 444; Rhode Island v. Innis, 446 U.S. 291, 300 (1980). In this case there is no dispute that defendant Brown was in custody at the relevant time; the issue rather is whether he was "interrogated" before the police advised him of his Miranda rights. The trial Judge ruled that he was, and therefore suppressed incriminating statements Brown made in response to the interrogation. The government in this interlocutory appeal, see D.C. Code § 23-104 (a)(1) (1996), contends that his statements were "[v]olunteered," Miranda, 384 U.S. at 478, because the antecedent words and actions of the police were neither "express questioning [n]or its functional equivalent" as defined in Innis, supra. On the basis of the testimony credited by the trial court, we agree that the police did not interrogate Brown before he made the statements in question. We therefore reverse the suppression order.

I.

Brown was indicted for first degree murder and related firearms offenses arising from the shooting death of Bernard Brown (no apparent relation). He moved to suppress, among other things, statements he had made to homicide detectives following his arrest for the murder which the government intended to introduce as false exculpatory statements. *fn1 The trial court held an evidentiary hearing on the motion, at which the sole witness was Kyle Cimiotti, the lead detective in the investigation of the Bernard Brown murder.

On May 30, 1998, five days after the murder, Cimiotti paged defendant Brown and, when Brown called back, told him that "we need to get together" or "you and I need to speak." Because Brown sounded "clueless" as to why the police were seeking him and asked what this was about, Cimiotti explained that they had an arrest warrant for him, though he did not say for what. Brown mentioned that "a bunch" of police with guns drawn had been to his mother's house earlier (presumably looking for him), and Cimiotti, stressing "the importance of [their] meeting," suggested they meet at the Sixth District police station to avoid "that whole rigamarole again." Twenty minutes later, Brown arrived at the Sixth District where Cimiotti greeted him by saying "Emanuel" (to which Brown responded affirmatively) and "how are you doing?", identifying himself as Detective Cimiotti. Brown responded by placing his hands on the wall. He was handcuffed, and other officers drove him to the Homicide Branch while Cimiotti drove there separately in his car.

At the Homicide Branch, Cimiotti spoke with other police officers for 15-20 minutes, then, with his partner in the investigation, Detective Porter, entered the interview room to which Brown had been taken. Brown had not yet been booked or processed. Cimiotti introduced himself "formally" as Detective Cimiotti from the Homicide Branch and told Brown that he was "under arrest in connection with the death of a Mr. Bernard Brown." Then, according to Cimiotti, "without any reason or . . . any provocation," Brown "just came out and said [`O]h, I heard about this, you know, they are trying to put that beef on me,'" adding that "`I don't even know that boy'" and "`[I] wasn't even out there when this occurred.'" Cimiotti again testified that "[t]he moment . . . I explained to him that it was in reference to Bernard Brown, he spurted that out," "just sputtered [and] went on with it," denying that he knew the victim or was "even out there." Cimiotti "immediately stopped" Brown at that point, saying "you need to stop. I need to read you your rights. You have that right." Brown was then read his Miranda rights, and indicated on the rights card that he did not want to speak further without an attorney present. No additional relevant conversation took place.

In granting the motion to suppress Brown's statements, the trial Judge stated:

"I credit Detective Cimiotti's testimony entirely regarding how he contacted the Defendant; how he met the Defendant; how he directed other officers to transport the Defendant to his office; how he greeted the Defendant in his office and ...


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