Court properly suppressed man’s statements to officers, COA rules

A man who told police officers questioning him about a molestation allegation that he was “done with answering questions” will have his statements suppressed at trial after the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s ruling Thursday.

Brandon Battering voluntarily went to the Lafayette Police Department in December 2015 regarding his alleged molestation of his then 12-year-old stepsister and an alleged sexually explicit Facebook message he sent the girl. He was interviewed by Pulaski County Sheriff’s Deputy Nicholas Bowyer and Lafayette detective-sergeant Robert Goldsmith. Battering initially denied the allegations and later said during the lengthy interview that he was “done answering questions right now.”

But Goldsmith continued to talk to Battering and got him to continue with the interview, which led to Battering making some incriminating statements. The state charged Battering with one count each of Level 1 felony child molesting, Level 4 felony child molesting and Level 5 felony child solicitation.

Battering filed a motion to suppress the pretrial statements made to the investigating officers, which the trial court granted after conducting a hearing.

The matter came to the Court of Appeals on interlocutory appeal. The judges affirmed the trial court in State of Indiana v. Brandon Battering, 66A03-1702-CR-315.

“Review of the transcript of the interview demonstrates that while Battering eventually re-engaged in the interview, he did so at Detective-Sergeant Goldsmith’s urging and direction and only after Detective-Sergeant Goldsmith continued to talk to him in a manner that was unquestionably designed to pull him back into the conversation. Neither Detective-Sergeant Goldsmith nor Deputy Bowyer reminded Battering of his right to remain silent before continuing on with the interview,” Judge Cale Bradford wrote.

“Given the specific facts and circumstances surrounding Battering’s statement that he was ‘done with answering questions right now,’ we conclude that Battering’s statement demonstrated an unequivocal invocation of the Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.”

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