OGDEN -- Because a murder suspect was not officially under arrest, police were not bound by law to honor his request for an attorney the next time they talked to him.
That second interview was crucial for Jeremy Marshall, police saying he essentially confessed to causing the death of his girlfriend's daughter.
Tuesday a judge ruled the statement stands, denying a defense suppression motion.
Marshall, 36, is charged with capital homicide in the Dec. 14, 2011, death of the 3-month-old infant. But prosecutors have opted not to seek the death penalty, which means Marshall faces, if convicted, sentences of life in prison, or life in prison with the possibility of parole.
The two-pronged interrogation of Marshall on Dec. 15 and Dec. 26 in 2011 made for a complicated debate on his Miranda rights.
On Tuesday, 2nd District Judge Scott Hadley found that, because Marshall was not in custody, his Miranda rights weren't needed, even though detectives had read them to him during both interviews. On Dec. 15, Marshall asked for a lawyer and the questioning stopped, something he didn't do Dec. 26.
Hadley noted that Marshall was not in custody Dec. 15. "Defendant rode in the front seat of the police car and engaged in small talk with the officer. The officer told him he was not under arrest." The detective gave him a ride home afterward, the judge noted.
"Because the defendant was not in custody Dec. 15, 2011, the protections afforded by Miranda (and related case law) do not apply, and the officers were free to interview the defendant Dec. 26, 11 days after he requested a lawyer.
"In other words, defendant was not entitled to a 14-day break between interrogations to 'shake off any residual coercive effects of his prior custody' because he was not subjected to prior custody on Dec. 15, 2011."
At a hearing for oral arguments on the suppression motion April 8, the prosecution and the defense debated what Marshall's status was at the time he made his Dec. 26, 2011, admissions to police -- protected under Miranda or not.
Public defender Randall Marshall, no relation, said Marshall had embraced his Miranda rights Dec. 15, when the detectives questioned him for the first time.
"From that point he is not to be questioned by police without an attorney present," Marshall insisted. "It's that simple." And police could not approach him, Marshall argued, for 14 days, according to case law.
But Deputy Weber County Attorney Bill Daines noted the defendant was simply not in custody during the Dec. 15 questioning or Dec. 26, so his request to have an attorney present was not mandated under Miranda rules.
"Custody, custody, custody" is the key, Daines stressed. "The police can still talk to him after he asks for an attorney. The guy doesn't have to answer, but the police can still talk to him."
Marshall has a May 26 status conference for the likely setting of a trial date.