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Court upholds suppression of mentally ill man’s confession

January 23, 2014

Citing an inadequate Miranda warning and the mental illness a murder suspect has, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the grant of the defendant’s motion to suppress confessions that he murdered two women. 

Indianapolis Police detective Michael Mitchell went to the New Castle Correctional Facility to interview DeAngelo Banks regarding a lead on DNA evidence. Mitchell was unaware that Banks has schizo affective disorder, that he was medicated at the time, and that, per a psychologist’s testimony, Banks had been “out of it” during that period he was interviewed.

Mitchell gave Banks a Miranda warning that did not clearly explain when Banks could request an attorney, and Banks agreed to talk. He confessed to killing two women in Indianapolis. He said he was under the influence of drugs and he’s been psychologically tormented.

Based on his testimony, the state charged Banks with murder in two separate cases. He filed a motion to suppress, which the trial court granted.

“Here, the trial court considered the evidence presented of Banks’s mental illness, heard Banks’s own testimony and came to the conclusion that his statement was not voluntary, and under our standard of review, we are bound to give this determination deference,” Judge Elaine Brown wrote in State of Indiana v. DeAngelo Banks, 49A02-1303-CR-235.

“We are therefore confronted with an inadequate Miranda warning to an undeniably and seriously mentally ill suspect who was in the area of the Newcastle Correctional Facility where the mentally ill are housed apart from the general prison population, who was involuntarily medicated at the time and in restraints even during the interrogation at issue. Yet, despite these compelling and compromising facts and circumstances, the State chose to interview Banks, and secured the confession we now review.

“There is substantial evidence supporting the trial court’s decision, and its decision is not contrary to law. Given our deferential standard of review, we affirm the trial court’s determination that Banks’s confession should be suppressed,” she wrote.
 

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