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Coleman v. State

Supreme Court of Arkansas

June 8, 2017

ROOSEVELT RASHAUN COLEMAN APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE

         APPEAL FROM THE CRITTENDEN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NOS. 18CR-11-652; 18CR-11-1315; 18CR-15-938] HONORABLE RALPH WILSON, JR., JUDGE

          Robert M. "Robby" Golden, for appellant.

          Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Amanda Jegley, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

          ROBIN F. WYNNE, Associate Justice.

         Roosevelt Rashaun Coleman was sentenced to seventy-two months' probation following his conviction for residential burglary in case no. CR-2011-652. He was sentenced to 120 months' suspended imposition of sentence following his conviction for residential burglary in case no. CR-2011-1315. Coleman was tried on a charge of aggravated robbery with a firearm enhancement in 2016. During the 2016 trial, the trial court revoked the probation and suspended imposition of sentence imposed in the earlier cases. Coleman was convicted on the charge of aggravated robbery and the firearm enhancement. He was sentenced as a habitual offender to life imprisonment for the aggravated robbery plus fifteen years' imprisonment on the firearm enhancement. He was sentenced to 240 months' imprisonment on each revocation. Coleman now appeals from his convictions and the revocations. On appeal, he makes the following arguments regarding his convictions: (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion in limine regarding the treatment of his two prior convictions for residential burglary as violent for purposes of sentencing under the habitual-offender statute; (2) the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress his statement; and (3) the trial court erred in denying his motion in limine to exclude certain testimony and admitting hearsay. Because there is merit in appellant's second argument, we reverse and remand as to the aggravated-robbery conviction and the firearm enhancement. Appellant raises no allegation of error as to the revocations. Accordingly, we affirm the revocations.

         On the night of September 14, 2015, two men wearing masks robbed a Dollar General store in Marion, taking approximately $700 in cash. One of the men, who was wearing a green-and-white-striped shirt, had a gun and hit the assistant manager in the head during the robbery. Witnesses were unable to identify the perpetrators, apart from being able to describe them as African-American males. Officers recovered a one-dollar bill, a ten-dollar bill, a cash-out receipt from the store, and a black cash drawer in a nearby beanfield. Officers also located a striped shirt matching the one worn by one of the perpetrators and a black LG cell phone approximately ten feet from the shirt that came back as belonging to appellant. One officer noticed suspicious behavior by someone driving a car near the store. When he encountered the driver, who was identified as Nicola Walters, and asked her why she was there, she eventually stated that she was there to pick up appellant. While she was speaking to the officers, Walters received a phone call from a male who asked if she had been let go yet. When she replied that she had not, the caller hung up.

         Appellant was arrested on November 4, 2015, and the next day was interviewed by Detective Freddy Williams with the Marion Police Department. Appellant indicated several times during the interview that he no longer wished to speak to Detective Williams. The interview continued, and appellant eventually confessed his involvement in the robbery. Prior to trial, appellant moved to suppress his statement to Detective Williams on the basis that it had been obtained in violation of his right against self-incrimination. The trial court denied the motion. Appellant moved to bar the State from soliciting testimony regarding the statements made by Nicola Walters, contending that they were inadmissible hearsay. That motion was denied. Finally, appellant moved to prevent his prior convictions for residential burglary from being treated as violent offenses for the purposes of habitual-offender sentencing, arguing that applying the prior convictions in that manner was prohibited because the statutory amendment classifying the offense of residential burglary as violent for habitual-offender purposes was passed after his convictions for residential burglary. The trial court denied this motion as well. Appellant was tried, convicted, and sentenced as described above. This appeal followed.

         Appellant argues that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress his statement to Detective Williams because it was obtained in violation of his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and not incriminate himself. Upon review of a trial court's denial of a motion to suppress, we make an independent determination based on the totality of the circumstances; we view the evidence in the light most favorable to the appellee, and we reverse the trial court's ruling only if it is clearly erroneous or against the preponderance of the evidence. Whalen v. State, 2016 Ark. 343, at 4-5, 500 S.W.3d 710, 713 (2016).

         In Whitaker v. State, 348 Ark. 90, 95, 71 S.W.3d 567, 570-71 (2002), we set out the applicable law on this issue as follows:

A statement made while an accused is in custody is presumptively involuntary, and the burden is on the State to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that a custodial statement was given voluntarily and was knowingly and intelligently made. Lacy v. State, [345 Ark. 63');">345 Ark. 63, 44 S.W.3d 296; Smith v. State, 334 Ark. 190, 974 S.W.2d 427 (1998). A defendant may cut off questioning at any time by unequivocally invoking his right to remain silent. Michigan v. Mosley, 423 U.S. 96, 96 S.Ct. 321, 46 L.Ed.2d 313 (1975). When the right to remain silent is invoked, it must be "scrupulously honored." Miranda [v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 479 (1966)]; Mosley, 423 U.S. at 103; Hatley v. State, 289 Ark. 130, 133, 709 S.W.2d 812, 814 (1986). Our Criminal Rules follow in this mold and provide that a police officer shall not question an arrested person if that person indicates "in any manner" that he does not wish to be questioned. Ark. R. Crim. P. 4.5.
A defendant may also waive an invocation of her right to silence. Bunch v. State, 346 Ark. 33, 57 S.W.3d 124 (2001). Specifically, answering questions following a statement that attempts to invoke the right to remain silent may waive that right by implication. Jones v. State, 344 Ark. 682, 42 S.W.3d 536 (2001); Bowen v. State, 322 Ark. 483, 911 S.W.2d 555 (1995); Standridge v. State, 329 Ark. 473, 951 S.W.2d 299 (1997). The accused may change her mind and decide to talk to law enforcement officials. Willett v. State, 322 Ark. 613, 911 S.W.2d 937 (1995) (citing Michigan v. Jackson, 475 U.S. 625 (1986); Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U.S. 477 (1981); Bussard v. State, 295 Ark. 72, 747 S.W.2d 71 (1988); Coble v. State, 274 Ark. 134, 624 S.W.2d 421 (1981)).

         The recording of appellant's interview with Detective Williams was divided into two parts.

         The first part of the interview took place in an interview room and was captured on video. During this first part of the interview, the following relevant exchanges took place:

Appellant: -- I got a question.
Detective Williams: Sure, man, what's up?
Appellant: I don't [phonetic] want to talk to you [inarticulate] -
Detective Williams: Uh-huh (affirmative response).
Appellant: -- it's just, is that a recorder or camera ...

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