Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Daniels v. State (Ct. of Special Appeals)

Decided December 26, 2006 -- Opinion by Judge Arrie W. Davis

Police in Frederick County, Maryland informed the police of Martinsburg, West Virginia:

1) That a van driven by Appellant at the time of a stop in West Virginia fit the description of a vehicle at the scene of a double homicide on a Maryland street;

2) That Appellant's former boyfriend had advised Maryland authorities that Appellant had said that he (the former boyfriend) would never again see one of the victims, a five year-old; and

3) That Appellant's father in Martinsburg owned a vehicle fitting the approximate description of homicide scene van.

The Martinsburg police located a vehicle in Martinsburg fitting the description of the van at the homicide scene and confirmed as belonging to Appellant's father. When they observed the vehicle driving away, the Martinsburg police executed a stop of the vehicle, detained the vehicle on the street to obtain a search warrant for the contents of the vehicle pursuant to West Virginia law and procedure, and advised Appellant – the driver – after conducting a search of her person that she was free to leave during its detention.

The Court of Special Appeals upheld the lower court ruling that the Martinsburg police had ample probable cause to execute a stop of the van pending a search warrant application for its contents, based on the information provided by Maryland law enforcement.

Maryland law enforcement agents provided very substantial material assistance to the Martinsburg police in executing the search warrant in West Virginia. The lower court noted local direct supervision of the Maryland officers and the officers' role as the source of the information giving rise to probable cause to obtain the warrant itself. Rejecting Appellant's argument that the Maryland officers lacked territorial jurisdiction in West Virginia or probable cause as private citizens to participate in the execution of the search warrant, the Court of Special Appeals upheld the validity of the Maryland officers' participation in the search within the "color of [their] office."

Appellant claimed that the failure of West Virginia authorities to make a presentment of her to a magistrate for approximately eight hours constituted unnecessary delay and therefore an unlawful detention, invalidating as coerced a written statement that she made after being advised of her Miranda rights. The Court of Special Appeals held that the delay was not the result of deliberate collusion between Maryland and West Virginia to defeat Appellant's access to a magistrate and that within 9 hours of her arrest, Appellant did appear before a magistrate. Accordingly, the applicable Maryland statutes and rules governing deadlines for prompt presentment did not apply to Appellant's out-of-state arrest and the Court of Special Appeals accordingly upheld as not clearly erroneous the lower court's finding that Appellant's statement was not coerced and therefore was admissible.

The full opinion is available in WPD and in PDF.

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