Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Second Division
from the Circuit Court of St. Francois County Honorable Wendy
W. Horn, Judge
M. Hess, Judge
A. Stricklin was found guilty of first-degree statutory
sodomy by a St. Francois County jury and was sentenced to
thirty years' imprisonment. At his trial, the State
introduced and the trial court admitted incriminatory
statements Stricklin made during an audio-recorded interview
of Stricklin at the Desloge police station and a written
statement Stricklin made after the recording ended.
sole point on appeal is the trial court clearly erred by
denying his motions to suppress and admitting into evidence
the incriminating statements he made in the audio recording
and written statement because he contends the interview
became custodial and violated his
Miranda rights and right against
self-incrimination after he unequivocally and repeatedly
asked for a lawyer. Because we conclude Stricklin's
interview became custodial and he was never
Mirandized, we reverse and remand for a new trial.
and Procedural Background
("Victim") was born in June of 2010. In April 2012,
Victim's mother ("Mother") began dating
Stricklin. On January 27, 2013, Stricklin spent the night at
Mother's home with Victim and her five-year-old brother.
On the morning of January 28, 2013, Mother awoke to Victim
crying and saying, "Pee-pee." Mother checked
Victim's diaper and found Victim's vagina bleeding.
Stricklin was awoken by Mother and she asked him if he knew
what was wrong with Victim. Stricklin denied knowing
anything, but after seeing Victim, suggested she may have
fallen on a toy in her room.
took Victim to her doctor and her doctor sent her to
Children's Hospital. Surgery was performed on Victim and
she remained in the hospital for five days. Stricklin did not
go to the hospital. Mother called Stricklin and asked if he
had anything to do with Victim's injuries and he denied
The Police Interview
Brad Judge of the Desloge Police Department called Stricklin
and asked him to come to the police station. On Thursday,
January 31, 2013, Stricklin went to the police station and
Officer Judge patted him down in the lobby before taking him
down the hall to the interview room. Stricklin was
interviewed by Officer Judge, Officer Stacy Minze, a criminal
investigator for the Missouri State Technical Assistance
Team, and Angela McCreary, a Missouri Department of Social
Services case worker. The interview was audio recorded and
lasted just over an hour. Stricklin was told by Officer Judge
he was not under arrest before the audio recording started.
the interview, Stricklin initially denied knowing how Victim
was injured and indicated he thought Victim fell on a toy and
was injured. Officers Judge and Minze told Stricklin they
thought he knew more than he was telling them. At about nine
minutes into the interview, Officer Judge stated, "You
know what's going on. There's no doubt in our mind. I
told you, we've done our homework." Stricklin
responded, "Do the homework. Where's my
lawyer?" Officer Minze told Stricklin, "That's
your choice." Stricklin then said he was "not
saying anything else," but then continued to respond to
Officers Judge and Minze. Officer Minze explained to
Stricklin that this was his chance to explain his side of the
story, and Stricklin said, "Yeah. And that's why I
volunteered to come down here."
continued to deny he injured Victim, and the officers'
accusations against Stricklin became more direct. Officer
Minze told Stricklin, "I know that you're gonna sit
there as long as you can and say that you didn't do it.
But I know that you did. I know that you did. And now's
your chance." After showing Stricklin a photograph of
Victim's injury, Officer Minze told Stricklin, "You
caused that injury." Officer Judge told Stricklin they
knew he did it because he and Mother were the only two people
in the house who could have caused that injury. Stricklin
told Officer Judge to charge Mother. Officer Judge responded
by stating they would charge Mother and Stricklin if that is
what they had to do. The exchange between Officer Judge and
Stricklin was argumentative and at about eighteen minutes
into the interview, Officer Judge said, "Well, I'm
gonna step out and let you talk to these two ladies. When I
come back in, if you haven't settled this up, and
straightened it out, you're probably going. You're
going in cuffs. I don't believe you for one minute."
Stricklin replied, "I want a lawyer. Right now."
Officer Minze again told Stricklin, "That's your
Judge then left the interview room and closed the door on the
way out. Officer Minze told Stricklin she could not tell him
not to get a lawyer, but said he did not have to get one.
Officer Minze told Stricklin she wanted to help him. She
informed Stricklin that Victim may have to take
"anti-AIDS medicine" for thirty days if they could
not test the person who did this, and the medicine made
Victim sick and throw up. In response, Stricklin said he was
"not admitting to anything," but asked what he
would be looking at if he admitted to causing Victim's
injury. Stricklin asked, "Am I gonna go to jail?"
Officer Minze responded, "Yeah, you will probably go to
continued to inquire about what type of punishment he may be
looking at and Officer Minze told Stricklin it depended and
was not up to her, but told him taking responsibility for his
actions would make a big difference in the eyes of the
prosecutor and judge. Officer Minze asked Stricklin how he
wanted to look: as the guy who accepts responsibility or as
the guy who denies it when they are going to prove it was him
anyway. Stricklin stated, "Either which way I'm
going to jail tonight? According to him, correct?"
Officer Minze said, "Well you're talking to me now.
Let's deal with one thing at a time."
about twenty-four minutes into the interview, Stricklin said
he did not want to go to jail today and wanted to spend the
weekend with his family. He said his "deal" was he
would turn himself in Monday. Officer Minze told him she
could not promise that. Stricklin replied, "Then I want
a lawyer right now." Stricklin then continued to talk,
stating "You're gonna take me to jail."
Stricklin continued to try and negotiate terms that would
prevent him from going to jail that day and Officer Minze
repeatedly told him she could not promise him those terms.
Stricklin said, "Either which way, you're taking me
to jail then. Unless you tell me that." Officer Minze
responded, "I can't tell you that I'm not. I
can't. . . . What guy you gonna be, you know? The one
that comes in here and owns up to what happened or you gonna
be the one that's gonna let her sit in the hospital for a
few more days throwing up and being sick and having stomach
pains?" Stricklin replied, "But it doesn't
matter if you're gonna take me to jail either which
way." Officer Minze stated, "Yeah, but if you
don't tell me what happened then she still has to take
the medication." Stricklin said, "Then you're
gonna give me the test when you arrest me." Officer
Minze told Stricklin they were not going to test him and stop
medicating Victim until they were 100% sure that he was the
person who caused Victim's injury. Stricklin told Officer
Minze that he wanted a guarantee he was not going to jail
tonight and Officer Minze told him she could not do that.
Stricklin offered to turn himself in the next day and Officer
Minze said, "I can't guarantee that." Stricklin
replied, "[T]hen I didn't do it. I want to get my
affairs in order. Can you please do that?"
informed Stricklin that after he told them what happened she
could help him get his affairs in order and tried to persuade
Stricklin to tell her what happened. Stricklin said,
"Tell me I ain't going to jail tonight."
Officer Minze responded, "I can't do that."
Stricklin said, "Tell me I can get out tomorrow."
Officer Minze responded, "That would be whatever bond
they set. I mean, if you go, I can't tell you that."
Stricklin said, "I want to know you're, what exactly
is I'm being charged with right now? What exactly are you
charging the person that did this with right now?"
Officer Minze stated it would be sexual assault. Stricklin
said, "I want tomorrow to get my affairs in order.
Please?" Officer Minze responded, "I can't
promise you that. I mean, you'll have bond."
Stricklin asked if he would get a public defender if he
admitted to causing Victim's injury and Officer Minze
told him he would get a public defender if he did not have
the means for an attorney. Stricklin stated, "[i]f
that's what it takes to keep her out of trouble,"
then admitted he accidently put his finger in Victim's
vagina. Stricklin said Victim was crying in the middle of the
night and he found her in the closet with her diaper around
her ankles so he picked her up, tripped over a toy, fell, and
when he did, his finger went inside Victim's vagina. He
said he did not see any blood.
the audio recording stopped, Stricklin was asked if he wanted
to write a letter to Mother, and he did. Stricklin wrote:
I admitted to falling with [Victim] and hurting her. I'm
sorry I [l]ied about it but when I seen [sic] all the blood I
[f]reaked out. I know you probably hate me now and I deserve
it but at least know it was an accident and I didn't mean
to hurt her. I'm probably still goin[g] to jail so maybe
that makes you feel better. I still love all of you and
I'm sorry. Please help me or at least let me know if you
don't want to see me anymore.
Stricklin was arrested after the interview ended and never
read his Miranda rights.
Pre-trial and Trial Proceedings
December 18, 2015, a St. Francois grand jury charged
Stricklin by indictment with first-degree statutory sodomy.
On March 17, 2016, Stricklin moved to suppress the oral
statements he made in the interview. On May 23, 2016, the
court held a hearing on Stricklin's motion. At the
hearing, Officers Judge and Minze testified. Officer Minze
testified about the letter Stricklin wrote to Victim's
mother after the interview stopped being recorded. Defense
counsel informed the court ...