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State v. Maples

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Third Division

June 26, 2018

JEREMY L. MAPLES, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Vernon County, Missouri The Honorable William B. Collins, Judge

          Before: Victor C. Howard, Presiding Judge, Cynthia L. Martin, Judge and Gary D. Witt, Judge

          Gary D. Witt, Judge

         Jeremy Maples ("Maples") appeals his conviction of murder in the first degree from the Circuit Court of Vernon County. Maples argues that the trial court erred in admitting incriminating statements he made to Detective Steve Schlup ("Detective Schlup") at the jail sally port because he was under custodial interrogation without being first warned of his Miranda[1] rights. Maples further argues that the trial court erred in admitting two other incriminating statements he made later, following the statements made at the jail sally port because the Miranda warnings provided prior to those statements were ineffective due to the prior Miranda violation at the jail sally port interview. Maples argues that the trial court abused its discretion in sustaining the State's objection to Maples's offer of proof regarding information that another person confessed to the murder. We affirm.

         Statement of Facts[2]

         Belinda Beisly ("Belinda")[3] was estranged from her husband Bob Beisly II ("Bob II"). On July 14, 2009, Belinda worked her normal 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. shift at work. She was seen by friends from work entering a Walmart store after her shift ended on the 14th. On July 15th Belinda did not show up to work and her friends from work were not able to reach her. A deputy from the Vernon County Sheriff's office was sent to perform a wellness check on Belinda at her home. Belinda lived in a house located on a farm operated by Bob II. The deputy found the front gate to Belinda's property locked and her vehicle located next to the house, with the engine running, the driver's door open, and groceries in the back seat. The front door to the house was partially open but the screen door was closed. The deputy knocked and after receiving no response checked around the outside of the house. A window at the rear of the house was broken out and the deputy called for backup. When additional deputies arrived they entered the house and found Belinda dead on the floor.

          The cause of death was shotgun wounds to the head and chest.[4] The shotgun wound to the head severed her brain stem and the shotgun wound to the chest was in a downward angle and destroyed her liver. Either wound would have been fatal. The time of death was approximately midnight on July 14. A Browning 12 gauge semi-automatic shotgun was determined to be missing from Belinda's home following the murder, but it was never determined if this was in fact the murder weapon. The murder weapon was never found.

         The murder investigation remained open and unsolved for several years. Bob II had previously been charged in Belinda's death, and spent 18-20 months in jail before the State dismissed the charges against him.

         At the time of the murder, Maples worked for Bob II doing farm work including on the farm where Belinda lived. Maples's work on the farm during the relevant time frame included brush hogging (mowing tall grass and small trees with a tractor and large mower) and planting crops. Maples was questioned regarding Belinda's murder a week after Belinda's body was found. At that time, Maples stated that on July 14, 2009, the day of the murder, his truck ran out of gas on the way to the farm and that he contacted Bob II who towed his truck the rest of the way to the farm where they put fuel into it. After working, Maples dropped his truck off with his girlfriend, Tammy Kronk ("Kronk"). Maples told Kronk that he would be brush hogging on the farm that evening, and asked Kronk to pick him up after she got off work. Maples told the police he brush hogged until about 10:30 p.m., at which time Kronk picked him up in his truck and drove back to their home where he went to sleep. He stated he woke up the next morning around 9 or 10 a.m. and returned to work on the farm, assisting Bob II in repairing a mower. Maples stated that he first learned of the murder the evening following the murder when Bob II's girlfriend told him that Belinda had been killed. Maples was then confronted with inconsistences between his statements and phone records[5] and Kronk's statements to police. Maples asked to stop the interview and left the sheriff's office.

         Kronk originally told police that she picked up Maples at the farm at 10:30 p.m., but later in the same conversation, changed her statement and admitted that Maples had asked her to tell police the incorrect time. She testified that on the night of the murder she went to a bar with friends from work. She became intoxicated and had her daughter pick her up and take her home around 12:45 or 1 a.m. and she went to sleep. Around 1:30 or 2 a.m. Maples called her and asked her to come pick him up from the farm, as he had finished working. Kronk woke up her daughter and her daughter's boyfriend to drive her to go pick up Maples, as she was still intoxicated. They picked him up in a car, not in his truck. When they arrived at the farm they located Maples on the gravel road walking away from the farm. She found this strange as she had always in the past picked him up at the tractor or in the field where he was working. This was the first and only time she picked him up walking on the road. They arrived home around 2 or 2:30 a.m. When they arrived home, Maples asked Kronk to wash his clothes. She put his clothes in the washer and went back to bed. She found the request to wash his clothes to be unusual because he never made such a request so late at night. Maples told her that if she spoke to the police to tell them that she picked him up at 10:30 p.m. that night. Later, Maples also requested that she get rid of the boots he had been wearing that day, which she did.

         Travis Beisley[6] ("Travis") gave a recorded statement to the police in September of 2012, several years after the murder. In that statement and in a later deposition[7] Travis stated that approximately four months after the murder, Maples told him that the police would never solve the murder. Maples admitted to him that he killed Belinda and that he had snuck in the house wearing boots and camo and used the phrase "pop pop" when describing the shooting, indicating two shots. Maples told Travis he was going to be paid $10, 000 by Bob II, a little bit at a time for killing Belinda.

         At the time of trial, Travis was in the Missouri Department of Corrections serving an unrelated sentence. When he took the stand at trial, after stating his name, he answered the prosecutor's questions with "I refuse to testify." After a recess and discussion with the court regarding his obligations to testify, Travis again took the stand before the jury. He then answered questions by stating he did not have any recollection of any conversations with Maples regarding the murder or recollection of giving his prior statement or deposition. In the questions he did answer Travis stated that he lied in his previous statement and deposition.

         Maples Motion to Suppress His Statements

         At trial, multiple statements made by Maples to law enforcement officers were presented to the jury. The trial court denied Maples's Motion to Suppress these statements and they were admitted at trial over objection.

         In August of 2012 Maples was in the Vernon County Jail on unrelated charges. On August 22, 2012, Maples told jail staff that he wanted to talk to Jail Administrator, Mike Buehler ("Buehler") regarding information he had about a murder. Buehler asked Maples what he wanted to talk about. Maples requested a cigarette and to speak to his then fiancé Theresa Butler ("Butler"). Buehler took Maples to the sally port and gave him a cigarette. Maples stated he had information about Belinda's murder, and Buehler informed him that Detective Schlup was handling the investigation. Maples said he had a lot on his mind and wanted to talk to someone.

         Maples's request to talk was communicated to Detective Schlup. Detective Schlup went to Maples's cell and asked if he wanted to see him and talk about anything. Maples said that he did want to talk but only if he could smoke a cigarette and if his fiancé Butler was present during the discussion. Detective Schlup explained that in order to bring in Butler, Maples "would have to maybe give a little bit more information as far as to make it worthwhile." Detective Schlup testified that he requested additional information because Maples and other inmates had previously made similar request for special treatment in return for information about other crimes, but when the special treatment was granted the inmate reneged on providing the information.

          Detective Schlup took Maples to the sally port to continue the discussion so Maples could smoke. Buehler was also present. Maples was not handcuffed and did not have restraints on his legs or ankles. Detective Schlup testified that Maples was free to end the conversation at any time. Detective Schlup told Maples again that he "would have to maybe give me a little bit more information as far as what possibly it could be about that he could tell me pertaining to information in reference to the murder." Maples then stated the following: "On the day of Belinda's murder, [Bob II], had told him [Maples] that it would have to be done tonight." Detective Schlup then asked what Bob II had meant by this statement. Maples said Bob II was talking about killing Belinda. Maples stated that he and Bob II had discussed killing Belinda many times before and Bob II, on this occasion, had offered him $10, 000 to kill her. Maples then went on to tell Detective Schlup that he was supposed to get into the house any way he could, get a gun from the gun safe, wait for Belinda to get home from work and then kill her by shooting her. Maples said about midnight he drove the tractor from the part of the property where he had been brush hogging to the barn which was northeast of the house. He drove up to the barn and parked the tractor next to his truck. Maples walked from the barn to Belinda's house. He cut through the back, crossed the drive by the road and went over a fence. He then walked through the brush and trees to the back porch.

         Maples told Detective Schlup that he went up to the back porch and found that the glass had been broken out of a window leading into the house. He told Detective Schlup that he climbed into the window which led into the dining, kitchen area, and it was at that time that he observed Belinda lying on the floor. It appeared that she had been shot once in the chest area. When he left the house and went towards his truck, he saw another truck drive from the barn toward the Highway. When Maples got back to his truck it would not start so he called Kronk to pick him up and walked up to the road to meet her.

         Maples said that when he entered the home he had not planned on killing Belinda. He was going to enter the house, get a gun from the safe like Bob II requested. Then he was going to go out and sit on the front porch and wait for Belinda to get home. Then when she got home, he was going to tell her that he was asked to kill her. He then was going to have her call the sheriff's office and then he was going to be cooperative and tell the officer exactly what he was asked to do regarding the murder of Belinda.

         During this interview the only question Detective Schlup asked was what Maples meant by "it had to be done tonight." Maples provided all the above information without further question by Detective Schlup. After the above information was provided, Detective Schlup then began to ask questions to get additional details, at which point Maples said he was not going to continue to talk unless Butler was present. Detective Schlup then put Maples in an interview room, where he brought Butler.

         When Butler entered the room, she and Maples hugged briefly. Maples explained that he wanted Butler present because he wanted her to know he was being honest now about the murder. Detective Schlup read Maples the Miranda warnings and conducted an audio taped interview which was played for the jury. Detective Schlup also filled out the top part of a form for Maples to provide a written statement, including Maples's name, address, and age. Below that information, the form included the Miranda warning. After Detective Schlup filled out the top of the form, he pointed to the Miranda language and told Maples to read it. Detective Schlup gave Maples the form. Maples read the Miranda language and began writing his statement.

         In Maples's written statement, he stated that about a year before the murder, Bob Beisly III ("Bob III") told Maples he would give Maples a truck if he killed Belinda. Maples refused. Maples also stated that Bob II also asked Maples to kill Belinda and that Bob II offered him $10, 000 to commit the murder. Maples refused. Maples acknowledged that he entered the house on the day Belinda was killed but that he left the house when he saw that she was already dead. He stated that after he left the house he ...

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