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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:During an altercation in the parking lot of a College Station nightclub, Russell stabbed to death James Ray Davidson Jr. At the time of the murder, Officer Adam Henderson with the College Station Police Department was patrolling the nightclub’s parking lot. As Russell drove away in a van, a witness in the crowd told Henderson that the driver of the van had stabbed someone. With Henderson pursuing him, Russell returned to the night club and exited the vehicle. Henderson ordered Russell to the ground and handcuffed him. At that time, Henderson asked a single question about the location of the knife used in the stabbing. Russell indicated it was in the crowd of people now surrounding the victim. Henderson took Russell to his patrol car where Henderson searched him and emptied his pockets. At that time, Russell said, “I need my cell phone to call my lawyer.” Henderson responded, “I’m not going to ask you any questions without your lawyer.” Henderson left Russell in the back of his patrol car and asked no further questions while at the scene. Once at the police station, police gave Russell his Miranda warnings. But Russell waived the warnings and made a statement to police. In a suppression hearing, the trial court concluded that because it fell within the public safety exception to Miranda, the questioning by Officer Henderson regarding the knife was not a custodial interrogation; thus, Russell did not invoke the right to counsel in response to an express question or its functional equivalent. The trial court overruled the motion and allowed Russell’s statement to be admitted. A jury convicted Robert Guy Russell, Jr. of murder under the influence of sudden passion and assessed his punishment at 10 years of imprisonment. Russell contended in a single issue that the trial court erred in admitting a confession he made after stating at the scene he needed to call his attorney. HOLDING:Affirmed. In Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 43 (1966), the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination “is fully applicable during a period of custodial interrogation.” Before a custodial interrogation, an accused must be warned that “he has a right to remain silent, that any statement he does make may be used as evidence against him, and that he has a right to the presence of an attorney, either retained or appointed.” Under Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U.S. 477 (1981), once an accused has “expressed his desire to deal with the police only through counsel, [he] is not subject to further interrogation by the authorities until counsel has been made available to him, unless the accused himself initiates further communication, exchanges, or conversations with the police.” Therefore, the court stated, if Russell’s on-scene statement regarding his attorney triggered Edwards, then his subsequent waiver of Miranda rights was not knowing and intelligent, because Russell did not initiate the subsequent communication with the officers. The trial court, the court stated, erroneously concluded that the application of the public safety exception meant the questioning by police was not a custodial interrogation. Nonetheless, the court stated, the fact that there had been a custodial interrogation at one point does not mean that Miranda rights continued unceasing from that moment. Therefore, the court stated, a request for counsel must be such that it can reasonably be understood as a desire “for the particular sort of lawyerly assistance that is the subject of Miranda” for it to invoke the Miranda right to counsel. In this case, the court noted, Russell’s mention of his attorney was not prompted by a question from Henderson. It came some time after the question and answer regarding the knife and in response to a search and his cell phone being taken away. A request for counsel in these circumstances, the court stated, cannot reasonably be seen as a request for the type of assistance envisioned by Miranda. Furthermore, the court stated, the Supreme Court stated in Rhode Island v. Innis, 446 U.S. 291 (1980), that an interrogation is “express questioning [or] any words or action on the part of the police . . . that the police should know are reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response.” The question of whether police words or conduct is an interrogation, the court stated, is viewed from the perspective of the accused, and the intent of police is relevant only to the extent it relates to whether the officer knew or should have known she would elicit an incriminating response. At the time of Russell’s statement, the police were still securing the crime scene and taking statements from witnesses, and Russell was being placed in the backseat of the patrol car. It was not a situation, the court stated, in which an interrogation was imminent. Finally, the court stated it did not believe existing case law supported the right of an accused to invoke his Miranda rights in any context other than a custodial interrogation. OPINION:Reyna, J.; Vance and Reyna, J.J. CONCURRENCE:Gray, C.J., concurred without a separate opinion.

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