March 16, 2017
Submitted: March 29, 2017
Defendant's Motion to Suppress. Granted.
Kenneth M. Haltom, Esquire and Nicole S. Hartman, Esquire of
the Department of Justice, Dover, Delaware; attorneys for the
D. Phillips, Esquire and Julianne E. Murray, Esquire of
MurrayPhillips, P.A., Georgetown, Delaware; attorneys for the
William L. Witham, Jr. Resident Judge
the Court are a Motion to Suppress filed by Defendant Rondree
Campbell and the State's Response to that
motion. Both parties have submitted supplemental
briefs to the Court. The motion raises a single question:
the course of a custodial interrogation, Mr. Campbell said
"bye" to the police detective. The detective then
asked Mr. Campbell if he was "done talking." Mr.
Campbell replied "Yeah, " prompting the detective
to leave the room. The detective re-entered the room some
fifteen minutes later and began questioning Mr. Campbell
about the same incident. Did Mr. Campbell invoke his right to
remain silent, and if so, should his subsequent statements be
Campbell's words constituted an unambiguous invocation of
his right to remain silent. Because the detective and other
police officers did not scrupulously honor Mr. Campbell's
request, his motion to suppress is GRANTED.
Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution provides
that no person 'shall be compelled in any criminal case
to be a witness against himself.'"Likewise, article
I, section 7 of Delaware's Constitution provides that the
accused "shall not be compelled to give evidence against
himself or herself." "When the admission of a
custodial interrogation statement is challenged, the burden
is on the State to demonstrate by a preponderance of the
evidence that the suspect's Miranda rights have
Campbell is accused of a single count of Murder in the First
Degree, two counts of Possession of a Firearm During the
Commission of a Felony, nine counts of Reckless Endangering
in the First Degree, one count of Carrying a Concealed
Weapon, and a now-severed count of Possession of a Firearm by
a Person Prohibited.
Police Department detectives took Mr. Campbell into custody
on November 4, 2015, while he was checking in with his
probation officer. Police video shows that Mr. Campbell sat
alone in an interview room at the police department from at
least 1:31 that afternoon until 2:13 p.m., when Detective
Nathaniel Warren came in and began the
two minutes later, after asking Mr. Campbell some preliminary
questions, Detective Warren read him his Miranda
rights from a card:
NW [Nathaniel Warren]: You have the right to remain silent.
Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court
of law. You have the right to talk to a lawyer and have him
present with you while you are being questioned. If you
cannot afford to hire a lawyer, one can be appointed to you,
uh, before any questioning if you wish. You can decide at any
time to exercise these rights and not make any statements at
all. Do you understand those rights?
RC [Rondree Campbell]: Yeah.
NW: Do you wish to talk to me at all?
interrogation continued. About twenty-nine minutes later,
Detective Warren stood up and left the room. After about five
minutes, he returned and continued the
interrogation. Over the next fifteen minutes, the tone of
the interview became decidedly more heated, culminating in
the following exchange:
NW: You've got to give me something better than that
because I'm telling you right now, you're going to be
sitting here until that warrant's done. Once that
warrant's done, you're going to prison. There's
RC: I don't (UI). Whatever.
NW: - other way around it.
NW: You done talking?
RC: Yeah, what is you - what is there to say?
NW: Think about it.
Warren left the room. Mr. Campbell knocked on the door on two
occasions. When Detective Warren answered the door, Mr.
Campbell asked to speak with his mother. When Mr. Campbell
returned to the room, he attempted to redirect the interview:
NW: They're going to bring your, uh, stuff in here so you
can make a phone call. Look, man, I just want to say
something. I want to clear something up with you a little
bit. Um. I understand the situation and how I came at you was
a - it was strong. Um. But at the same time I just want to be
able to let you know, look, um, my supervisor now he's
the one who investigated, um, the death of your friend Amir
out in [Whatcoat], um, so I mean they know you've been in
here before. They know you're decent and they know you
have a heart. They know you're a good dude working, doing
whatever you want to do. I just for myself want to clear some
things up. That's why I brought that map in here. Just to
clear up some things. 'Cause, look, I know when I'm
talking north, south, and ...