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State v. Rumbaugh

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Southern District, First Division

December 26, 2017

STATE OF MISSOURI, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
MATTHEW M. RUMBAUGH, Defendant-Respondent.

         APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF CAMDEN COUNTY Honorable Kenneth Michael Hayden

          DON E. BURRELL, J.

         The State appeals the trial court's order suppressing statements Matthew M. Rumbaugh ("Defendant") made on separate occasions to a sheriff's detective and the sheriff regarding two murders committed in Laclede County in July 2014. See 547.200.1(3).[1]

         The State's first point claims the trial court erred in suppressing Defendant's statements to the detective

because Defendant did not unequivocally assert his Fifth Amendment right to counsel in that: (1) Defendant's anticipatory invocation with [aparticular sheriff's deputy] was ineffective; and (2) Defendant told [the detective] only that he "maybe" should get an attorney, which is not a clear and unequivocal request for an attorney.

         The State's second point claims that the statements Defendant made to the sheriff should not have been suppressed

because: (1) Defendant did not unequivocally assert his Fifth Amendment right to counsel, in that Defendant stated only that he "maybe" should get an attorney; and because (2) even if Defendant had unequivocally asserted his right to counsel, he reinitiated a conversation regarding the investigation in that he asked to speak with [the sheriff] and he volunteered information about the investigation before any questioning by [the sheriff].
Applicable Principles of Review and Governing Law

         "At a motion to suppress hearing, the state bears both the burden of producing evidence and the risk of nonpersuasion to show by a preponderance of the evidence that the motion to suppress should be overruled." State v. Collings, 450 S.W.3d 741, 753 (Mo. banc 2014) (quotations omitted). "On appeal, the appellant, not the respondent, has the burden of showing erroneous action on the part of the trial court." State v. Stone, 430 S.W.3d 288, 290 (Mo. App. S.D. 2014) (quotation omitted). We "will reverse a trial court's ruling on a motion to suppress only if it is clearly erroneous." State v. Holman, 502 S.W.3d 621, 624 (Mo. banc 2016).

         "In reviewing the trial court's ruling on a motion to suppress, the facts and any reasonable inferences arising from the facts are to be stated most favorably to the order challenged on appeal. We will disregard any evidence that contradicts the order." State v. Kinkead, 983 S.W.2d 518, 519 (Mo. banc 1998) (internal citation omitted). "Where, as here, the trial court makes no findings of fact in ruling on the motion to suppress, we presume the trial court found all facts in accordance with its ruling." State v. Selvy, 462 S.W.3d 756, 764 (Mo. App. E.D. 2015).

         Questions of law, however, are reviewed de novo. State v. Gaw, 285 S.W.3d 318, 320 (Mo. banc 2009). "The determination of whether a suspect invoked his Fifth Amendment right to counsel is a question of law, and we need not defer to the trial court's conclusion on such questions." State v. Benedict, 495 S.W.3d 185, 194 (Mo. App. E.D. 2016).

         Evidence and Procedural History

         In keeping with our standard of review, see Kinkead, 983 S.W.2d at 519, the following is a summary of the relevant evidence presented at the July 2017 hearing on Defendant's motion to suppress ("the hearing").

         "[I]n the early morning hours" of July 8, 2014, law enforcement officials were dispatched to "a shooting out on Atlanta Road" involving two male victims ("Victim 1" and, a minor, "Victim 2"). Defendant was identified as a suspect in the shooting. That same morning, Sheriff Wayne Merritt ("Sheriff") located Defendant sleeping in a bed at Defendant's son's residence. Sheriff woke Defendant, and Defendant "agree[d] to go with Sheriff" to the Lebanon Police Department.

         After Defendant was transported to the police department, Laclede County Sheriff's Corporal Steven Price ("Corporal Price") contacted Defendant later that morning and asked Defendant to consent to a search of his vehicle and the house in which he was found. Corporal Price did not recall advising Defendant of his Miranda[2] rights, and he was not sure whether a Miranda warning was included on the consent form Corporal Price presented to Defendant. Defendant did not consent to the search. When asked at the hearing whether he told the officers at the police department that he wanted to talk to his attorney, Defendant replied:

I didn't -- I don't believe I specifically said I wanted to talk to my attorney. [Corporal] Price asked me if I would sign a consent form. I told him it wasn't my house and I said, you know, before I do much of any of that, probably ought to -- you know, somebody ...

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