The Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the suppression of a murder case defendant’s statement due to a Miranda violation. The constitutional violation occurred as detectives were “shadowed” by a crew from the television show The First 48.
The defendant Andrew Cummings was questioned as rescue personnel who were called to treat him after he was discovered under the handicap ramp of a home near a murder scene. When found, Cummings was covered in blood and convulsing.
He was transported to a hospital, and an officer remained there the entire time he was treated. The next day, at a detective’s direction, crime scene investigators photographed Cummings, collected fingernail scraping and DNA swabs from his hands, and confiscated his clothing. When discharged around midnight, a detective accompanied by three officers advised Cummings that “he needed him” to accompany him to the police station.
Once transported there in the back of a police car, Cummings was subjected to a two hour interrogation during which he fell asleep and clearly did not understand some questioning. After a short break, the detective came back to advise Cummings of his Miranda rights and that he was investigating a homicide.
After being told the victim died and Cummings’ hands had the victim’s blood on them, Cummings gave incriminating statements. When the detective wanted a sworn statement, Cummings invoked his right to counsel. Two hours later, he was arrested.
The trial court found Cummings was in custody while at the hospital and any statements he gave must be suppressed, in any event, because “he was in no condition to voluntarily make statements to that.” The Third Circuit agreed. It also affirmed the decision to suppress The First 48 video being shown to the jury. The court noted the video was “so heavily redacted that the available portions were deprived of relevance.” See: State v. Cummings, 3D12-651 (Fla. 3d DCA Feb. 4, 2015)
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Related legal case
State v. Cummings
|3D12-651 (Fla. 3d DCA Feb. 4, 2015)
|Court of Appeals