Evidentiary Hearings, Miranda Rights, and Victim Testimony

John Henry II vs. State of Nevada

(Court of Appeals Unpublished order affirming in part, reversing and remanding in part)

John Henry II appealed a district court order denying his post-conviction petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Appellant claimed that the district court erred by rejecting his claim that defense counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate the facts surrounding his home invasion charge.

Henry argued that he could not be convicted of invasion of the home because the home was in fact his. The lower court denied his motion pointing out that Henry failed to provide any evidence to support his ownership claim. On appeal, Henry showed that the police used his listed address on his arrest warrant, proving that Henry was a lawful resident of that home. The Court of Appeals ruled that the lower court erred by rejecting the appellant’s claim without conducting an evidentiary hearing and they remanded the matter back.

 

Marshall Prentice vs. State of Nevada    

(Court of Appeals Unpublished order affirming)

Marshall Prentice plead to robbery with the use of a deadly weapon; grand larceny auto; two counts of conspiracy to commit robbery (with the intent to promote, further or assist a criminal gang); robbery with the use of a deadly weapon (with the intent to promote, further or assist a criminal gang); burglary while in possession of a firearm, (with the intent to promote, further or assist a criminal gang); attempted robbery with the use of a deadly weapon (with the intent to promote, further or assist a criminal gang); and murder with the use of a deadly weapon (with the intent to promote, further or assist a criminal gang).  As part of his plea deal, Prentice kept his appellant rights regarding a pre-trial suppression issue. 

On appeal, Prentice asserted the district court erred and his first statement to the detectives should have been suppressed. At the time of the first interview, Prentice was in the hospital and had not been formally arrested. He was not read his Miranda' rights prior to the interview, thus his confession was involuntary and coerced.

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This case raises the question as to "whether a reasonable person in the suspect's position would feel 'at liberty to terminate the interrogation and leave.'"

Prentice voluntarily took himself to North Vista Hospital for treatment of gunshot wounds. Because Prentice had reported he had been robbed and shot, a single police officer in full uniform was dispatched to the hospital to take Prentice's statement. In the hospital room, Prentice confessed to activities which implicated him in the Nettleton shooting.

It was concluded that a reasonable person in Prentice's position would have felt at liberty to terminate the interview and request the officers to leave. Therefore, it was determined that Prentice was not in custody for Miranda purposes when the detectives first interviewed him and accordingly Miranda warnings were unnecessary.

Implicit and explicit promises that mislead a defendant into a confession can render a confession involuntary. Because Prentice was not in custody for Miranda purposes during his first interview with the detectives and because it was concluded his confession was voluntary and not the product of coercion, the Court of Appeals further concluded that the district court did not err by denying Prentice’s motion to suppress and the judgement of conviction was affirmed.

Dillon James Potts vs. State of Nevada

(Court of Appeals Unpublished Opinion order of affirmance)

Defendant Dillon Potts appealed from a judgment of conviction pursuant to a jury verdict of larceny from the person. Potts claimed insufficient evidence supporting his conviction. The victim's testimony was the only evidence presented in support of the charge, but the victim gave contradictory and implausible testimony throughout the trial and often did not make sense. Potts asserted the victim's testimony was not credible because the victim was coached throughout the process by the State. Moreover, the victim was also under the influence of lithium during his testimony.

Despite the inconsistencies of the victim's testimony coupled with her being under the influence of medication, this was not enough to convince the Court of Appeals that he was entitled to relief or that the outcome of his trial would have been different.  The Court of Appeals found that Potts failed to demonstrate he was entitled to relief and ordered his judgement of conviction affirmed.