RANDY HAROLD MORRIS, JR. APPELLANT
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE
FROM THE WASHINGTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. CR-2014-1075-6]
HONORABLE MARK LINDSAY, JUDGE
Miller, Butler, Schneider & Pawlik, PLLC, by: Mason L.
Boling, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Christian Harris, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
F. VIRDEN, Judge
Harold Morris, Jr., appeals his conviction by a jury on one
count of rape by a Washington County jury. His sole point on
appeal is that the circuit court erred in denying his motion
to suppress his statement to police. Specifically, Morris
contends that the circuit court erred in finding that he was
not "in custody" when he was interrogated by the
police immediately prior to his arrest and that Morris's
statement was made pursuant to an interrogation without his
having been informed of his Miranda rights. We
agree, and we reverse and remand for a new trial.
August 24 and 26, 2015, there was a suppression hearing
concerning certain statements made by Morris to police
immediately prior to his arrest. At the hearing, Springdale
police officer Christopher James Eagle testified that on
April 30, 2014, he responded to a report of rape at the Sleep
Inn in Springdale. Eagle testified that he and other officers
met with C.K. in a conference room at the motel, where she
told them the details of her attack. Officer Eagle stated
that C.K. told officers that she and some friends had formed
a plan to rob Morris. Instead, she met Morris at his hotel
room and bought methamphetamine from him, and then she asked
if she could use his shower. Eagle testified that C.K. had
told them that, while she was in the shower, Morris pulled
her from the shower, put her on the bed, tied her wrists with
a zip tie, and injected her in the crook of her arm with an
unknown substance. C.K. told officers that Morris had raped
her orally, anally, and vaginally. Eagle stated that C.K. had
told officers that, after the rape had occurred and while
Morris was cleaning, she left to go get change at a nearby
store so that Morris could do laundry. C.K. warned the
officers that Morris had a knife and that he had used it to
cut the zip ties.
Eagle testified that he and Officer Landrum were in the
hallway outside Morris's hotel room when Morris exited
the room carrying a plastic bag that had a zip tie protruding
from the top. Morris was also carrying a basket of clothes.
Officer Eagle testified that he had his gun drawn and was
holding it in a low position and that when Officer Landrum
patted Morris down, he put his gun away.
Jerry Corken testified that after Morris had been patted
down, Morris asked if he could go check on his laundry but
that "we asked him to wait." Officer Corken stated
that after speaking to Morris in the hallway for a while,
"the conversation was moved into the room because the
hallway was starting to get really crowded with people coming
out of their rooms." Officer Corken testified that, for
safety reasons, they moved police and Morris into the hotel
Kyle Naish testified that he stood opposite the hotel-room
door with his back to the bedroom area so he could watch
Detective Matt Ray and Morris. He testified that Detective
Nelson was also in the room and that Morris was sitting on
the couch. Officer Naish testified that Detective Robert
Nelson took pictures of the room, while Officer Eagle came in
to the room to remove drug paraphernalia from the couch
cushions and that other officers "made a circle around
the room to see if there was anything around." Officer
Naish testified that the officers searched the bedroom, the
bathroom, the closet, the television stand, and the dresser.
After the search, they escorted Morris to his truck, obtained
Morris's consent to search the truck, and then arrested
Ray testified that Morris had not been informed by any of the
officers that he could refuse to allow them into his room and
that Morris had not been provided any Miranda
warnings before or during the questioning that took place in
his room. Officer Ray testified that he had asked
Morris's permission to wrap the zip tie on Morris's
wrist and that Morris had agreed. Officer Ray testified that
the interview with Morris in his room lasted somewhere
between thirty and forty-five minutes. Officer Ray agreed
that the questions he asked Morris were designed to elicit a
confession or a self-incriminating statement and that the
questions "were the type where his responses were either
going to put him in prison or not."
circuit court ruled that Morris had not been in custody that
evening in his hotel room; therefore, Morris's statements
would not be suppressed at the trial. The court reasoned that
the facts recited at the hearing were analogous to those in
Collins v. State, 2014 Ark.App. 574, 446 S.W.3d 199.
It also stated that because Morris never objected, because he
voluntarily answered the police questions, and because he had
prior felonies and was familiar with the police and police
procedure, Morris "did not feel that he was under
trial was held on September 28-29, 2015. At the trial
Morris's recorded statement was played for the jury. In
the statement, Morris admitted that he and C.K. had
consensual sex. Morris explained to police that he had a
legal prescription for methamphetamine but that C.K. did not
receive any drugs from him, or do any drugs in front of him.
In his recorded statement, Morris questioned why someone
claiming to have been raped would have gone to the store and
come back with change to do laundry. At that point, the
following exchange occurred:
Officer Ray: I know why. Because you raped her. You tied her
up and you raped her. That's the conclusion I just got.
Morris: Why did she leave and come back and leave and come
back? In her own car? Maybe she's full of it! You are not
going to call me a liar. If you want to take me to jail, take
me to jail. Do not call me a liar.
Officer Ray: Then don't lie to me. Tell me the truth.
Morris: I told you. She's a freak. We had sex. We watched
half a movie. No, I did not film it. I've been married
eighteen years, and she comes up wanting to do this. This guy
that introduced us can tell you that she wanted to have sex
with me the night before, but I was too tired. ...