Murder Confession Admissible Under Miranda
- June 22, 2015
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Jerome L. Faucette was charged with first-degree felony murder (N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3(a)(3)) and robbery (N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1) after driving a vehicle for Terrence S. Clemmons during Clemmons robbery and shooting of a gas station attendant. Faucette was convicted of first-degree robbery and sentenced to 13 years in prison with an 85% parole disqualifier under the No Early Release Act (N.E.R.A.)(N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2. Faucette appealed claiming his statement was not made voluntarily on the grounds that he had invoked his right to counsel. On May 14, 2008, at 7:00 pm, police requested defendant accompany them to the police station for questioning with which he complied. Faucette was read his rights under Miranda v. Arizona, U.S. 436, 86 S. Ct. 1602, 16 L. Ed. 2d 694 (1966) at the police station and spoke with police until approximately 8:00 pm when he asked to leave, however, the police continued questioning Faucette until 2:30 am. Faucette did not invoke his right to counsel. On May 15, 2008, police returned to the defendant’s residence at 4:00 pm to return him to the police station where he was again advised of his Miranda rights and arrested. Detectives questioned Ms. Spencer and Mr. Gaddy, Faucette’s former girlfriend and friend. Both of these individuals advised police that Faucette had admitted to participating in the robbery planned by the co-defendant, Clemons. Faucette ultimately admitted to participation in the robbery as a driver but denied involvement in the murder or prior knowledge thereof. In State v. Faucette, the judge held that the initial interview, wherein no confession was obtained, violated the defendant’s rights under Miranda following the defendant’s request to terminate the interview, however, the second interview was not in violation of defendant’s rights and the confession provided therein was voluntary. The court granted suppression of all information obtained after 8:03 p.m. during the initial interview but found all remaining statements to be admissible. On appeal, the defendant challenged the voluntariness of his confession based on coercion and violation of his rights under Miranda. The NJ Appellate Division turned to State v. W.B., 205 N.J. 588 (2011) with regard to Miranda requirements when there is a challenge to voluntariness of a confession. Pursuant to State v. Johnson, 42 N.J. 146, 162 (1964), reiterated in State v. Davila, 203 N.J. 97, 109-10 (2010), as long as the findings of the trial judge are detailed and supported by factual and credible evidence the findings below are not to be disturbed. However, the deference accorded in Johnson and Davila are dependent upon the trial court’s ability to hear testimony from officers, experts and witnesses and not the mere review of a videotaped confession from which the Appellate Division can also draw independent conclusions. State v. Diaz-Bridges, 208 N.J. 544, 565-66 (2011). The Fifth Amendment grants privilege against self-incrimination and this right is afforded to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment. The Appellate Division looked to State v. Reed, 133 N.J. 237 (1993), with regard to a defendant’s right against self-incrimination in New Jersey and to State v. Knight, 183 N.J. 449 (2005) with regard to the upholding of that right through Miranda protections. State v. Galloway, 133 N.J. 631 (1993) was the case looked to by the Appellate Division in determining whether the State or defendant bears the burden of proving voluntariness of a confession and found the burden is borne by the State. State v. Presha, 163 N.J. 304, 313 (2000), dictates that a the “voluntary intelligent statement” of a defendant properly notified of his rights under Miranda is a valid and admissible confession. After reviewing the circumstances in this specific matter, the Appellate Division found that Faucette’s second confession was knowingly and voluntarily given with full information and understanding of Miranda warnings and that there was no “taint from the May 14 Miranda violations” in violation of State v. O’Neil, 193 N.J. 148, (2007) or State v. Johnson, 118 N.J. 639 (1990). Further, the Appellate Division affirmed that Faucette did not, at any time during the questioning, invoke his right to counsel. The NJ Appellate Division found Faucette’s confession to be voluntary and affirmed the decision of the trial court. If you are facing charges of murder you are looking at a sentence of 30 years to life and even for lesser included offenses the sentence can be the same as life in prison depending on your age at sentencing. When confronting such charges, it is imperative that you have experienced and trusted criminal defense counsel at your side to ensure you have the best chance possible in fighting the case and protecting your rights. For more information about murder, robbery, conspiracy, aggravated manslaughter, assault or weapons charges in New Jersey visit DarlingFirm.com. This blog is for informational purposes only and not intended to replace the advice of an attorney.