Last month, a New York appellate court decided a case that overturned a young defendant’s murder conviction after trial and suppressed statements that were made to his father and recorded by the police in the police station. Originally, the defendant had been found guilty of several violent crimes, including murder in the second degree. After the trial court denied the defendant’s motion to suppress incriminating statements, the defendant appealed; on appeal, the higher court unanimously agreed that the trial court’s decision should be reversed.
Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, the defendant was 15 years old when he was charged with murder, criminal possession of a weapon, and attempted robbery. Officers brought the defendant to the station upon his arrest, at which point they complied with their legal obligation to call one of the defendant’s parents or guardians. The defendant’s father immediately came to the station and informed the officers that they wanted to speak with an attorney before submitting to an interview.
At that point, the officers left the interview room, leaving the defendant and his father alone with a video camera recording the conversation. The defendant’s face collapsed into his hands, and he began speaking in a distressed tone to his father. His father warned him to stop talking and reminded his son about the video. However, the defendant continued and attempted to make his conversation inaudible by covering his mouth and speaking in hushed tones. Later the defendant discovered that their conversation had been recorded and that the State wanted to use the recording as evidence at trial. Indeed much of the video was inaudible but what was audible was played for the jury.