FROM THE OUACHITA COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 52CR-15-70]
HONORABLE ROBIN J. CARROLL, JUDGE.
Mylissia M. Blankenship, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Karen Virginia Wallace,
Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.
J. GLADWIN, Judge.
Eric Lewis appeals the denial of his motion to suppress by
the Ouachita County Circuit Court, arguing that the circuit
court violated his Fifth Amendment right against
self-incrimination by admitting statements he made to police
because the interrogator made false promises of leniency. We
March 3, 2015, appellant was charged with raping a
seven-year-old girl in violation of Arkansas Code Annotated
section 5-14-103 (Repl. 2013). On May 14, 2015, appellant
filed a motion to suppress statements that he made to
Arkansas State Police investigator Jerome Sanders, alleging
that during an interrogation by the Camden Police Department,
he "was questioned for extended periods of time and put
under undue stress to the point that he was not able to
knowingly, intelligently, or voluntarily waive his
constitutional rights against self-incrimination."
Appellant argued that any statements obtained were
inadmissible either in the State's case-in-chief or for
impeachment, citing the Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth
Amendments to the United States Constitution and article 2
sections 8 and 10 of the Arkansas Constitution, pursuant to
Mincey v. Arizona, 437 U.S. 385 (1978); Grillot
v. State, 353 Ark. 294, 107 S.W.3d 136 (2003); and
Kennedy v. State, 325 Ark. 3, 923 S.W.2d 274 (1996).
Appellant subsequently filed an amended motion to suppress in
which he named the Arkansas State Police as having
participated in the interrogations along with officers from
the Camden Police Department. The State filed its response,
again denying the allegations.
August 13, 2015, the circuit court held a pretrial hearing
regarding the suppression motion. At that hearing, the
circuit court noted:
I did go back and listen to everything that [defense counsel]
wanted me to listen to, looked at the timing [sic] frame for
when you started, from when the interrogation started until
it ended, [and] read the case law that was provided by your
attorney and [the deputy prosecuting attorney].
What I found was, is that there's just not enough
evidence there for me to throw it out and say that it's
coercion. If you take the stand at trial, that's the only
way that that can be used against you. Well, I shouldn't
say that. That's not the case. But it can be used to
impeach you at trial. But that's not to say that you
still can't make the points that [defense counsel] makes
in the brief, that you made in the brief about how the
interrogation was conducted.
So, I'm going to deny the motion, but, obviously,
you'll still have the opportunity to make those arguments
at trial should you want to go to trial.
order denying the motion to suppress was filed on August 24,
July 8, 2016 jury trial a one-hour videotape of
appellant's police interview was played for the jury
during the direct examination of Investigator Sanders, who
had interviewed appellant. Also, written statements made
during that interview were introduced into evidence without
objection as State's exhibits 5 and 6. Investigator
Sanders explained that while the portion of the interview
that was played for the jury was approximately an hour long,
the interview lasted a little more than three hours.
testified, stating that he graduated from the local high
school in 2013. He initially stated that, in January, when he
was interviewed by Investigator Sanders, he was at the
station for four hours and that he did not believe he was
free to go. However, appellant stated on cross-examination
that he voluntarily went to the police station and that he
could have left at any time. During his testimony, counsel
noted in a bench conference that appellant went to the
station voluntarily and took a polygraph test, which he
failed, and that he was there for three hours after the
8, 2016, the jury returned a guilty verdict, and appellant
was sentenced to twenty-five years in the Arkansas Department
of Correction (ADC). He filed a timely notice of appeal on