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COA answers first impression issue on custodial statements

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A defendant convicted of a burglary in St. Joseph County challenged the admission of his prior statement to police while in custody, arguing the statement couldn’t be allowed at his trial because a recorded version of the statement wasn’t available at trial as required by Indiana Evidence Rule 617.

New Evidence Rule 617 says in part: “In a felony criminal prosecution, evidence of a statement made by a person during a Custodial Interrogation in a Place of Detention shall not be admitted against the person unless an Electronic Recording of the statement was made, preserved, and is available at trial … .”

When Tyrell Cutler took the stand in his own defense, the prosecutor sought to confront him with the statement he gave to police denying knowing the victim, where she lived, and that he couldn’t explain how his DNA ended up in her home. Cutler’s attorney objected because he hadn’t received an electronic recording of the interview, only the written police report describing it. The prosecution only had the written report. Both thought there was no recording of the interview.

But it turns out the police did make a recording of the interview. That led the trial court to overrule Cutler’s objection because even a statement taken in violation of Miranda v. Arizona may be used against a testifying defendant, a principle recognized by the Indiana Supreme Court.

The Court of Appeals agreed in Tyrell Cutler v. State of Indiana, 71A05-1206-CR-339, with Senior Judge Randall T. Shepard noting that it appears there haven’t been any appellate decisions elsewhere in the country on this issue raised by Cutler.

“Had the State attempted to use Cutler’s statement from July as substantive evidence, Rule 617 would surely have required the prosecution to produce the recording before evidence of the statement could be admitted. Indeed, it seems that under the spirit of Rule 617, the defense would have been within its rights to insist on hearing the recording before the prosecutor could confront Cutler with his statements, even given the late moment at which counsel and the court became aware of its existence,” he wrote. “Still, it is difficult to see defense counsel’s failure to make such a request as constituting waiver.”

The judges also found there was sufficient evidence to convict Cutler of the burglary.

 

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  1. I will be filing a lawsuit in Tippecanoe County for so many violations in a case we became involved in, including failure to contact through mail, Violation of 4th Amendment rights, Violation of Civil Rights, and so on. Even the Indiana Ombudsmen Bureau found violations and I have now received the report and they are demanding further training in Tippecanoe County. I am going to make sure they follow through!!!

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  3. I thought the purpose of the criminal justice center was to consolidate all the criminal services and get them out of downtown to clean up the place. Why in the HELL are the civil courts moving? What a burden to all the downtown law firms. Now we all get to work downtown, but then have to get in a car and COMMUTE to court? Who approved this idiocy?

  4. I drive through the neighborhood whenever I go to the City-County Building or the Federal Courthouse. The surrounding streets are all two way with only two lanes of traffic, and traffic is very slow during rush hour. I hope that enough money has been allocated to allow for improvement of the surrounding streets.

  5. I have had an ongoing custody case for 6 yrs. I should have been the sole legal custodial parent but was a victim of a vindictive ex and the system biasedly supported him. He is an alcoholic and doesn't even have a license for two yrs now after his 2nd DUI. Fast frwd 6 yrs later my kids are suffering poor nutritional health, psychological issues, failing in school, have NO MD and the GAL could care less, DCS doesn't care. The child isn't getting his ADHD med he needs and will not succeed in life living this way. NO one will HELP our family.I tried for over 6 yrs. The judge called me an idiot for not knowing how to enter evidence and the last hearing was 8 mths ago. That in itself is unjust! The kids want to be with their Mother! They are being alienated from her and fed lies by their Father! I was hit in a car accident 3 yrs ago and am declared handicapped myself. Poor poor way to treat the indigent in Indiana!

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