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State v. Yohnnson

September 7, 2007

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
BRIAN MICHAEL YOHNNSON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Burlington County, Indictment No. 04-12-1319.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted July 10, 2007

Before Judges C.S. Fisher and Grall.

In this appeal, defendant argues that his motion to suppress incriminating statements should have been granted, rather than denied, because he was interrogated by police prior to being fully advised of his Miranda*fn1 rights, and after he had invoked his right to counsel and his right to remain silent. Since the judge's findings do not thoroughly describe what occurred before the police advised defendant of his Miranda rights, we remand.

Defendant was indicted and charged with four counts of first-degree robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1(a). Following the denial of a motion to suppress his incriminating statements, which lies at the heart of this appeal, the State agreed to amend two of the counts to second-degree robbery. Defendant then pled guilty to the charges as amended, reserving his right to appeal from the denial of his motion to suppress. The trial judge sentenced defendant to fifteen-year terms of imprisonment with an 85% period of parole ineligibility on the first-degree robbery counts, and seven-year terms of imprisonment with an 85% period of parole ineligibility on the second-degree robbery counts. All these terms were ordered to run concurrently.

Defendant appealed, and now presents the following arguments for our consideration:

I. THE TRIAL COURT DENIED [DEFENDANT'S] MOTION TO SUPPRESS HIS CONFESSION BASED ON ITS CREDIBILITY RULING, EVEN THOUGH CREDIBILITY WAS NOT DISPOSITIVE OF ALL THE ISSUES THE DEFENSE RAISED, THE STATE FAILED TO REBUT ALL OF [DEFENDANT'S] CLAIMS, AND THE STATE'S EVIDENCE ACTUALLY SUPPORTED ONE OF HIS CLAIMS.

A. Detective Gillen Engaged In The Functional Equivalent Of Custodial Interrogation By Pressuring Defendant To Confess, Before He Had Been Advised Of And Waived The Miranda Rights, And After Defendant Had Refused To Answer Questions In The Absence Of An Attorney.

B. [Detective] Mikulski Also Subjected [Defendant] To Custodial Interrogation Before Administering The Miranda Warnings And Obtaining A Valid Waiver Of The Miranda Rights.

After careful examination of the record, we vacate the order denying the suppression motion and remand for further proceedings.

At the Miranda hearing, the judge heard the testimony of both Detective Anthony Mikulski and defendant. Detective Mikulski testified that, on August 18, 2004, between 10:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m., a Dunkin' Donuts in Maple Shade was robbed by a person who left the scene in a blue truck. Soon thereafter, the police received a call that a person was seen "shooting up" drugs in a blue truck parked behind a nearby pizzeria. Defendant was located and taken into custody at approximately 3:15 p.m. Detective Mikulski testified that defendant was arrested because of outstanding arrest warrants emanating from Camden, although the police also believed he had committed the robbery of the Dunkin' Donuts that morning, as well as others.

Upon his arrest, defendant was placed in a squad car. The State does not dispute that the advice then given to defendant regarding his constitutional rights was defective because the officer informed defendant only of some of his Miranda rights. Defendant was taken to the police station in Maple Shade and placed in a cell pending Detective Mikulski's arrival. Neither Detective Mikulski nor Detective O'Donnell advised defendant of his Miranda rights when they began questioning him at approximately 4:00 p.m.

Detective Mikulski initially conducted what he referred to as a "preinterview"; that is, he laid "some groundwork" about "some robberies," which included a description for defendant of "some of the more broader details" and what the police "knew about the robberies." This "preinterview" -- the specifics of which were not otherwise revealed during the Miranda hearing --lasted approximately two hours and forty-five minutes. Detective Mikulski testified that defendant denied any involvement in the robberies and that, toward the end of the nearly three-hour "preinterview," defendant advised he did not want to speak further with the police without counsel. Detective Mikulski testified that he honored this request, although it is not ...


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