Custodial Interrogation: RANKIN V. COM. (COA 9/14/2007)

RANKIN V. COM.
CRIMINAL: SELF-INCRIMINATION, CUSTODIAL INTERROGATION, MISTRIAL

2006-CA-000721
PUBLISHED: AFFIRMING
PANEL: THOMPSON PRESIDING; DIXON, HOWARD CONCUR
COUNTY: JEFFERSON
DATE RENDERED: 09/14/2007

CA affirmed Rankin’s conviction in Jefferson Circuit Court for Intimidating a Witness in the Legal Process.  TC improperly instructed the jury. The trial court should not have included the word “shooting” in the instructions because there was no evidence that the caller said the word “shooting.”  However, the error was harmless pursuant to RCr 9.24.  Next, TC did not err by denying Defendant’s motion to suppress.  The circumstances of this case indicate that Rankin’s Fifth Amendment rights were not implicated because he was not in custody when questioned.  Defendant was not entitled to a directed verdict of acquittal.

TC did not err by denying motions for mistrial.  However, TC did err by not giving an admonition. The Commonwealth’s factual assertion was not based on the evidence in the record and served no purpose but to improperly influence the jury. Barnes v. Commonwealth, 91 S.W.3d 564, 568 (Ky. 2002). However, the trial court did require the Commonwealth to correct its misrepresentation and the Commonwealth complied.  Although the trial court did not give an admonition, in light of the court’s action, we conclude that the Commonwealth’s misrepresentation was not of such character and magnitude that Rankin was denied a fair and impartial trial.

Digested by Scott C. Byrd
www.Olginandbyrd.com

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