Paroled killer who asked agent to help find meth pipes loses appeal

A paroled killer who admitted to smoking meth and then asked law enforcement to remove the pipes he smoked from his home so his girlfriend wouldn’t find them did not convince the Indiana Court of Appeals on Thursday that those statements were inadmissible.

Michael Scanland was convicted of Class C misdemeanor possession of paraphernalia after he refused several times to submit to a drug screen after admitting to a parole agent he had used methamphetamine. As a result, the parole agent handcuffed Scanland and began filling out a form requesting a warrant for his arrest.

Meanwhile, Scanland, who had been paroled in 2016 after serving 21 years of a 50-year sentence for a 1995 Morgan County murder conviction, asked his parole agent to go to his house and retrieve the pipe he had used to smoke the meth. The parole agent, two other agents and an Indianapolis police officer accompanied Scanland to his home where they searched and found two hidden pipes where Scanland told them they would be. The agents then obtained a warrant and confiscated the pipes, and subsequent testing revealed they contained meth residue.

Scanland later filed a pretrial motion to suppress the statements he made to the parole agent, claiming his statements were inadmissible because he had not been read his Miranda rights before the statements were made. He also objected to the admission of the pipes. The Marion Superior Court denied the motion and sentenced Scanland to 40 days in jail.

Affirming the trial court, the Indiana Court of Appeals found that although Scanland was in custody when he made incriminating statements, he was not subject to a custodial interrogation. Rather, the statements were made voluntarily and were therefore admissible even though Scanland had not yet been read his Miranda rights.

Additionally, the appellate court concluded that Scanland’s behavior, his refusal to submit to the urine screen, and his admission were sufficient to establish reasonable cause to search his home under the terms of his parole release agreement and the rubric of noncustodial interrogation.

It therefore affirmed in Michael Scanland v. State of Indiana, 19A-CR-790. Because his parole was revoked as a result of the incident, the Indiana Department of Correction’s online “Offender Search” now lists Scanland’s “earliest possible release date” as 2035, a footnote in the appellate court’s opinion states.

The case also was a milestone for the Appeals on Wheels program. The Court of Appeals in a footnote wrote that the oral argument took place at Winamac High School in Pulaski County, marking the last of all 92 Indiana counties where the court has visited for oral arguments hosted by local schools, universities, civic and other organizations.

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