On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Burlington County, Indictment No. 06-07-1108.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted November 13, 2008
Before Judges Parrillo, Lihotz and Messano.
Pursuant to our leave granted, the State of New Jersey appeals from the April 9, 2008 order granting defendant Anthony L. Jones' motion to suppress statements he made to police during custodial interrogation. We have considered the arguments raised in light of the record and applicable legal standards. We affirm.
Defendant was indicted for the January 17, 2006 fatal stabbing of Thomas J. Carmichael in the parking lot of the Sunset Tavern in Burlington Township. Carmichael was taken to Cooper Medical Center from the scene and died from his injuries two days later. Prior to his demise, he gave a description of his attacker. During their initial investigation, police obtained a surveillance video from the scene and spoke to several witnesses who identified defendant as the perpetrator.
At 4:15 p.m. on January 18, police obtained a search warrant for defendant's room at the HallMark Motel on Route 130 in Cinnaminson. Officers set up a perimeter around the motel and ordered defendant out of the room without success. A SWAT team was called to the scene and, using tear gas grenades and a battering ram, ultimately entered the motel room. Once inside, the team detonated concussive devices known as "flash bangs" and took defendant into custody at approximately 8:00 p.m. He was transported to the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office for questioning.
Detectives Frank Troso and David Britzinghoffer brought defendant to an interrogation room equipped with videotape monitoring. Troso testified during the suppression hearing that prior to the start of the videotape, defendant asked about the nature of the investigation. During the first several minutes of the interview, defendant, who was obviously agitated, asked numerous times why he was arrested without receiving an answer from the detectives. He also requested "to make a phone call." Troso tried to read defendant his Miranda rights*fn1 from a card but, before he could complete the reading, defendant requested counsel stating, "I need my lawyer, that's all." Troso stopped the proceedings and responded "Okay, now, I can't answer you."
Troso and Britzinghoffer left but returned shortly thereafter. After asking defendant if he knew who he was, Britzinghoffer told defendant he was being charged with attempted murder, but stated they could not talk to him since he had asked for an attorney. Troso testified:
Q: . . . [T]he conversation is reinitiated by Britzinghoffer; is that correct?
A: He introduces himself again, yes.
Q: Well, he walks into the room. Not in response to any request from [defendant], correct?
Q: The first words spoken are a question posed to [defendant]; is that correct?
Q: And in the meantime, neither you nor anybody on your staff has made any effort to secure a lawyer for Jones?
The transcript of the interview reveals that after being told about the charges, defendant said, "Yo, can I talk to you?" Troso responded:
Troso: What about, you want to talk with me?
Defendant: I don't know, I don't know what the f... this (is) about.
Troso: Well, I'll be more than happy to talk to you. Is that what you . . . would like to do?
Troso then read defendant his Miranda rights and requested he sign the card which defendant did.*fn2
Defendant and the detectives then exchanged preliminary information and the following conversation ensued:
Troso: [L]et me finish real quick, all right, well, that's what I'm saying there's always two sides but before we started talking, when we first came in here, when we tried to talk to you, tried to read you your Miranda Rights, you said. . .
Troso: [Y]ou said, no, no, no, I want to talk to a lawyer, correct?
Defendant: Right, exactly.
Troso: The thing is we came in and read you the charges you had questions regarding your charges, correct?
Defendant: Yeah, you talking about [a]ttempted [m]urder.
Troso: Right, right, so then you said, what did you say you said I'll talk to you, meaning me?
Defendant: I said I'm a talk to you.
Troso: Okay, so that's what I'm saying you're okay right now talking to us ...