It was approximately 2:00 p.m. when Trooper Streyle arrived. Trooper Streyle
read the appellant his Miranda rights for the third time and asked him to sign another waiver.
Prior to this time, Trooper Cooper had gone to the appellant's father's home and obtained
permission for Trooper Streyle to conduct the polygraph on the appellant. The officer even
offered the father a ride to the State Police barracks to witness the entire polygraph and talk
with his son. The appellant's father provided his signed consent, but refused to go to the
After obtaining the necessary consent of the appellant and his father, Trooper Streyle began a pre-interview of the appellant to build a rapport with him. Upon completing the pre-interview, Trooper Streyle began asking the appellant questions about the murders. Soon thereafter, Trooper Fluharty entered the room and stated that they had obtained incriminating evidence on the appellant. When Trooper Fluharty left the room, the appellant said that he would not answer any further questions without counsel present. Trooper Streyle immediately ended the interview without completing the polygraph test and informed Trooper Fluharty about the appellant's request. Trooper Fluharty told the appellant he was free to leave and that he was not under arrest. He also told the appellant that he could wait until Trooper Cooper, who was trying to locate the prosecuting attorney for advice, returned to the office. The appellant said he would voluntarily remain at the State Police barracks.
Lets be clear about what happened here. The appellant voluntarily stayed at
the State Police barracks even though he was offered a ride home by the State Troopers. He
stayed even though he was given unrestricted access to a telephone where he could have
called his father, another family member, a neighbor, or even a friend to take him home.
Most importantly though, he stayed of his own free will and volition. He patiently waited
at the police station for the return of Trooper Cooper without being questioned in any manner
by any law enforcement officer. He walked around the office; he was allowed access to
various rooms of the office without restriction; he slept for a period of time; he ate pizza; and
he rested until Trooper Cooper arrived. At no time was he shackled, handcuffed, or
subjected to any physical abuse. He simply waited for the return of Trooper Cooper.
Upon his return to the office, Trooper Cooper told the appellant that he was going to draft a complaint wherein he would be arrested for murder. After a brief silence, the appellant began to cry and gave a spontaneous statement saying, I'm sorry. I loved Ward and Mary. Through this statement, it was the appellant who evinced a willingness and a desire for a generalized discussion about the investigation resulting in further communication, exchange, and conversation with the police. See Oregon v. Bradshaw, 462 U.S. 1039, 103 S.Ct. 2830 (1983).
Trooper Cooper stopped the appellant from making any further incriminating comments and immediately read his Miranda warnings to him. It was the appellant who, for at least the fourth time that day, knowingly waived his right to counsel and voluntarily provided a statement to the police after initiating conversation about the substance of the case with the State Troopers. Once the appellant completed his thirty minute statement, Trooper Cooper immediately drove him to the magistrate for arraignment.
It has long been the rule of this State that it is the trial court's job to determine the facts surrounding a juvenile appellant's confession. If the trial court's factual determinations, including determinations regarding credibility, are reasonable supported by the record, this Court will not disturb them on appeal. See In re James L.P., 205 W.Va. 1, 14, 516 S.E.2d 15, 28 (1999). The circuit judge specifically found that the appellant knew and understood fully what his rights were, and that he knowingly and voluntarily again waived those rights. The circuit judge also explained:
The prompt presentment rule is not invoked when a person, whether an adult or a juvenile, becomes a suspect. It occurs when he is arrested or circumstances are such that a reasonable person would conclude that they were under arrest. This occurs when a person's freedom is deprived of them. The court is convinced that any such rule was not violated here - - at least as to the oral statements made by [the appellant] to the polygraph operator - - any delay was prompted by the police and [the appellant] desiring to wait for the arrival of a polygraph, and not for the purpose of obtaining a confession from [the appellant].
Again, let me be perfectly clear, this was a calculating, scheming young man
who killed two people he supposedly loved. He was a frequent overnight guest in their home
who had gained their trust. After reading the entire record in this case, it is clear to me that
he was well aware of what he was doing each and every time he waived his right to counsel
and voluntarily provided statements to the law enforcement officers. Throughout the day in
question, the appellant attempted to act like a victim and shift the blame to another
individual. He rolled the dice creating stories he felt would relieve him of any responsibility,
but eventually his lies created a web of deceit which he was unable to untangle. Even upon
his arrest and detention at the juvenile center it took him only two days before he began
plotting to escape from the facility.
It is clear to me that there is nothing in the aforementioned facts that even remotely amount to a violation of the prompt presentment rule. The appellant was not under arrest prior to the return in the evening of Trooper Cooper and was free to leave at any moment. He chose not to leave. Simply put, he provided several voluntary statements to the officers before and after his arrest. Those statements were taken by competent police officers who acted in full compliance with the laws of both the United States and West Virginia. My fear is that the majority opinion has created a situation which could result in chaos and havoc on future investigations of suspects of heinous crimes. Officers will read these facts and fear that even when they follow proper police procedures that much of their evidence will become
inadmissable and tainted. Another result could be the premature arrest of innocent individuals who are quickly paraded in front of magistrates as police officers scramble to avoid the appearance of violating our prompt presentment rule. Common sense needs to prevail and police officers need to be able to do their jobs without unreasonable restraints and unworkable rules. Therefore, for the reasons stated above, I respectfully dissent.