Warnken, LLC Attorneys at Law, Attorneys & Lawyers, Pikesville, MD

Robinson v. State – Miranda Case

Robinson v. State, 419 Md. 602 (2011).

            Fifth Amendment – Miranda

Police arrived at the scene of a shooting to find that Victim had been shot three times.  Police observed Defendant getting into a white van.  Police questioned Defendant, who admitted to being Victim’s girlfriend.  Defendant also stated that she and Victim had been arguing, and that she was in the home when the shooting occurred.

Police put Defendant in a police cruiser with plastic bags on her hands to preserve gunshot residue.  Defendant was transported to a police station and kept for six hours, after which she was interrogated by police.  At the interrogation Defendant stated that she and Defendant had been arguing, that she opened the door to leave the residence but Defendant pushed her back inside.  Defendant said she then heard gunshots, ran, and returned to find that Victim had been shot.  After the interrogation, Defendant was allowed to leave.

Five weeks later, police arrested Defendant, read her Miranda rights, and questioned her about the shooting.  Defendant stated that the things she had said in her first interview were true and denied shooting Defendant.

The COA found that the Defendant was not in custody for the purposes of Miranda when she was questioned at the scene of the shooting.  Although the COA found that Defendant was entitled to, and not given a Miranda warning upon her questioning at the police station, the COA noted that the Defendant had later repeated her statements after being given the Miranda warning after her arrest.  While usually this would make any error harmless, the COA held that the police had engaged in “question first” tactics in order to obtain the statement.

Although there was a break of five weeks between Defendant’s interrogation at the police station and her questioning upon arrest, and such a break may serve to allow the police to re-give Miranda warnings in order to cure prior violations of Miranda, the COA found that the police had used “question first” tactics, and that those tactics prevented the violation from being cured.  The COA noted that Defendant referred to her earlier statement upon questioning, that Defendant was questioned after being arrested instead of being taken directly to a court commissioner, and that Defendant’s interrogation following arrest was terminated as soon as she repeated her earlier statements.  The COA ordered Defendant to be given a new trial, at which statements obtained after her questioning at the scene of the crime would not be admissible.