Appeal from the District Court of Stark County, Southwest Judicial District, the Honorable Harlan Patrick Weir, Judge.
James A. Hope, Assistant State's Attorney, for plaintiff and appellee.
Carey A. Goetz, for defendant and appellant.
[¶ 1] Nick Webster appeals from a criminal judgment entered after he conditionally pled guilty to burglary, gross sexual imposition, and interfering with a telephone during an emergency call. Because we conclude the district court erred in determining Webster received sufficient Miranda warnings and waived his Miranda rights, we reverse the judgment and remand to allow Webster to withdraw his conditional guilty plea.
[¶ 2] In March 2012, the State charged Webster with burglary, gross sexual imposition, and interfering with a telephone during an emergency call after law enforcement received a call from an 83-year-old woman reporting she had been sexually assaulted in her home. Law enforcement officers responded and found a broken garage window used to gain entry. The victim told the officers she initially tried to call for help, but the intruder took the phone away. During the investigation, the officers noticed a man who appeared to be watching from a landing at a nearby apartment. The officers spoke with the man, Webster, and after he apparently gave some inconsistent answers, they took him to the law enforcement center for questioning.
[¶ 3] At the law enforcement center, Webster was separately questioned by Officers Travis Leintz and Kylan Klauzer. These interrogations took place in two separate rooms and were video and audio recorded. The rooms contained 8.5 x 11 inch signs that stated in bold red letters: "ANY AND ALL CONVERSATIONS IN THIS ROOM MAY BE RECORDED." These signs were prominently displayed at eye level on the inside and outside of the doors to the approximately 9 x 10 foot interrogation rooms.
[¶ 4] Webster was first interrogated by Officer Leintz. After Officer Leintz's brief interrogation, Webster slept for about an hour. Webster was then moved into another interrogation room, and Officer Klauzer questioned Webster. Afterward, Webster's brother appeared and sought to speak with Webster. Officer Klauzer asked Webster if he wanted to speak with his brother, which Webster did. Officer Klauzer left the interrogation room, and Webster and his brother spoke. Like the previous interrogations, Webster's conversation with his brother was video and audio recorded. Webster was subsequently arrested and charged with burglary, gross sexual imposition, and interfering with a telephone during an emergency call.
[¶ 5] Webster moved to suppress the statements, arguing that he was not given his "full Miranda warning before interrogation."  Webster asserted "he was not told he had a right to a court-appointed attorney if he could not afford one, nor was he told that any statement he made could be used as evidence against him." The State opposed the motion, arguing the warning "given by Detective Leintz, combined with the advisement given by Detective Klauzer, combined with [Webster's] previous contact with the justice system constitutes a fully effective equivalent to a full recitation" of the Miranda warnings. Additionally, the State argued that Webster's statements were voluntary.
[¶ 6] The district court denied Webster's motion to suppress, holding that:
[S]ufficient Miranda warnings were given to the Defendant, in that a) he indicated that he understood his rights, b) that he was aware that he had a right to counsel, c) that whatever he said could be used against him, even though this was not explicitly stated, and d) from the totality of his interaction with Officers Leintz and Klauzer, the Defendant knowingly waived his rights under Miranda.
[T]he Defendant's conversation with his brother was beyond the scope of Miranda in that it did not involve a custodial interrogation. Also, a sign had been posted in the interview room ...