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CRIMINAL LAW finding that the admission of a defendant’s police-interview statements in a trial helped convict her of murder, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court stated on Aug. 6 that the woman’s statements should have been suppressed because she made them in police custody and had not been given the Miranda warning. State v. Bridges, No. Was-02-38. Following the death of her boyfriend, a young woman was interviewed by police twice at a fire station. She recounted how two men had broken into their home, shot her boyfriend and kidnapped her and her baby. After finding the boyfriend’s lifeless body in their home, the police conducted a third interview at the fire station. The detectives told her she was free to leave prior to the interview and did not read her Miranda rights to her. During the course of the interview, the detective repeated that he didn’t believe her story and that he would take her socks and match them up to prints found at the crime scene, even though such prints had not been found. The woman changed her story and stated that she had put the gun to her boyfriend’s head and pulled the trigger thinking that the safety was on. She was convicted of murder and sentenced to 45 years. Prior to trial, she sought to suppress the statements made during the third interview, arguing that they were obtained in violation of her Miranda rights. The motion court denied the motion, arguing that she was not in “custody” for purposes of Miranda. The Supreme Judicial Court reversed, holding that the statements should have been suppressed. A reasonable person in the defendant’s position, the court argued, would have felt that she was not free to leave the interview. The interview was the third of three that day, conducted in a small, dark bedroom of a fire station. The police asked leading questions and made misleading statements about supposed evidence they had uncovered. She should therefore have been given the Miranda warning.

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