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State v. Marchbanks

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Second Division

May 29, 2018

STATE OF MISSOURI, Appellant,
v.
DOMINIQUE D. MARCHBANKS, Respondent.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri The Honorable Robert M. Schieber, Judge.

          Before Anthony Rex Gabbert, Presiding Judge, Thomas H. Newton, Judge and Gary D. Witt, Judge.

          Gary D. Witt, Judge.

         The State of Missouri ("State") appeals from an order from the Circuit Court of Jackson County granting a motion to suppress Dominique Marchbanks's ("Marchbanks") statements made during a police interview regarding the murder of Amorian Hale ("Hale"). The State argues that Marchbanks did not effectively invoke his Miranda[1] rights because he was not under custodial interrogation at the time he filed his assertion of rights and sufficient time had passed to constitute a break in custody. We reverse and remand.

         Statement of Facts[2]

         In March of 2011, Marchbanks committed the offense of possession of a controlled substance. While being questioned regarding the possession offense, Marchbanks signed a Miranda waiver and was interviewed by the police. Marchbanks was later released on bond for that offense. In May 2015, Hale was shot and killed. On July 27, 2015, Marchbanks entered a guilty plea in the possession case and sentencing on that charge occurred on October 9, 2015. In the meantime, in August of 2015, Marchbanks allegedly committed multiple additional offenses, including tampering with a motor vehicle.[3]Marchbanks was questioned regarding the tampering case and again signed a Miranda waiver. On August 12, 2015, the State filed charges in the tampering case and a motion to revoke bond in the possession case and Marchbanks was taken into custody. On August 24, 2015, Marchbanks filed a signed document entitled "Assertion of Rights, " which stated that he was represented by counsel and did not want to be interviewed further or discuss potentially waiving his rights unless he had consulted with counsel. The Assertion of Rights referenced Marchbanks's rights under the Fifth Amendment, Sixth Amendment, and Fourteenth Amendment. The Assertion for Rights was filed with the court in the tampering case as well as with the jail where Marchbanks was located. Marchbanks was represented by the same counsel in both the possession case and tampering case.

         On September 1, 2015, the judge granted a recognizance bond in the tampering case but a different judge denied a bond reduction in the possession case, so Marchbanks remained in custody. On October 9, 2015, Marchbanks was sentenced in the possession case to three years in the Department of Corrections, subject to a 120-day treatment program. On October 12, 2015, while Marchbanks was still being held at the Jackson County Detention Center awaiting transport to the Department of Corrections and while the tampering charges were still pending, detectives with the Kansas City Police Department initiated an interview with him regarding the murder of Hale without notifying his counsel. During that interview, Marchbanks signed a written waiver of his Miranda rights. The statements made by Marchbanks during that interview are the subject of the suppression motion, the granting of which is at issue in this case. Marchbanks was delivered to the Department of Corrections to serve his sentence in the possession case on November, 12, 2015.

         On February 23, 2016, the State filed homicide charges against Marchbanks for the death of Hale. On March 10, 2016, Marchbanks, through his same counsel filed another written Assertion of Rights. On April 1, 2017, Marchbanks filed a motion to suppress his October 2015 statements to law enforcement. The trial court held a hearing on the motion to suppress, during which the State chose to submit its case on exhibits and called no live witnesses.

         On April 7, 2017, the trial court granted the motion to suppress and found that the interrogation in October 2015 violated Marchbanks's "right to counsel and to remain silent under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Article I, Section 19 of the Missouri Constitution as those provision have been applied by the higher courts in Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U.S. 477 (1981) and State v. Farris, 125 S.W.3d 365 (Mo. App. W.D. 2004)." This appeal followed.

         Standard of Review

         We will reverse the trial court's ruling on the motion to suppress only if we find that it is clearly erroneous. State v. McNeely, 358 S.W.3d 65, 68 (Mo. banc 2012), affd, 133 S.Ct. 1552 (2013). To find that the trial court's ruling is clearly erroneous, we must be "left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been made." State v. Robinson, 454 S.W.3d 428, 436 (Mo. App. W.D. 2015). The trial court is free to disbelieve any evidence favorable to the State, even if uncontradicted. State v. Stoebe, 406 S.W.3d 509, 515 (Mo. App. W.D. 2013). "When, however, the issue to be decided involves the constitutional protection against forced self-incrimination, our review of the trial court's ruling is a two-part inquiry: we defer to the trial court's determinations of witness credibility and findings of facts, but we consider the court's conclusions of law de novo." State v. O'Neal, 392 S.W.3d 556, 565 (Mo. App. W.D. 2013).

         Analysis

         The State raises three points on appeal. In Point One, the State argues that the trial court clearly erred in suppressing Marchbanks's statements because his written Assertion of Rights was ineffective as he was not under custodial interrogation when it was filed. In Point Two, the State argues that the trial court clearly erred in suppressing Marchbanks's statements because there was a break in custody, sufficient time passed after the break in custody, and Miranda as applied to the Sixth Amendment right to counsel is offense specific. The State argues in Point Three that the trial court clearly erred in suppressing Marchbanks's statements because he knowingly and voluntarily waived his Miranda rights during the interrogation.

         Point ...


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