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Name: People v. Storm
Case #: S088712
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Citation: 28 Cal.4th 1007
Summary

During an investigation of his wife’s homicide, defendant agreed to take a polygraph test. At the police station he received Miranda (Miranda v. Arizona (1966) 384 U.S. 436) warnings and waived his rights, but after he was told he failed the test, he invoked his Miranda rights. Rather than cease questioning as required by Miranda and Edwards (Edwards v. Arizona (1981) 451 U.S. 477) in a custodial setting, the polygraph operator encourage appellant to keep talking. Defendant said he killed his wife as part of an assisted suicide. Defendant was permitted to leave the station and two days later detectives came to his house and assured him he would not then be arrested. They interviewed him without new Miranda warnings and he gave a more detailed version of the assisted suicide story. The detectives left and arrested him the next day. At trial, the court excluded all his station-house statements after he invoked the right to counsel, but admitted all the statements in the home interview. Defendant testified at trial that he had snapped while during an argument his wife disparaged his sexual performance and he had stabbed her in a frenzy. The court held the ruling regarding defendant’s statements was correct. Edwards holds that where an accused has invoked the right to counsel in a custodial setting, if the police nevertheless recontact the accused, any subsequent statements are presumed involuntary and inadmissible, assuming there has been no break in custody. Here the court held the “break in custody” exception applied to the home statements. Miranda and Edwards apply only to persons questioned in the coercive atmosphere of police custody. Here defendant was reinterviewed two days later in the noncustodial setting of his home. The court also rejected the argument that by releasing defendant and reapproaching him two days later, the officers were engaged in a pretext to avoid the restrictions of Miranda and Edwards. Finally, the court rejected the argument that the home interview was the tainted product of the Edwards violation at the police station. The record demonstrated that there was no actual police coercion and defendant spoke at home of his own free will. (Dissent by George, C.J. and Chin, J.)

Opinion Date: 08/15/2002