1. When a suspect makes an unequivocal request for counsel during a custodial interrogation, police must terminate the interrogation and cannot ask questions designed to clarify the request for counsel.
2. Statements made by appellant to police after he made an unequivocal request for counsel were inadmissible at trial, and their admission was prejudicial error.
3. The prosecutor committed misconduct by persistently attempting to elicit inadmissible hearsay evidence.
4. The prosecutor committed misconduct by inviting the jury, in closing argument, to consider that the "environment" of North Minneapolis was the appellant's environment but was different from the juror's environment.
5. Appellant's pro se arguments are without merit.
Reversed and remanded for a new trial.
Heard, considered, and decided by the court en banc.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hanson, Justice
Appellant Secundus Ray was convicted of murder in the first degree in connection with the shooting death of Chauncey Teasley on June 13, 1998, in North Minneapolis. On appeal, Ray argues that (1) his in-custody statement to police, used against him at trial, was obtained in violation of his right to counsel, and (2) prosecutorial misconduct, during testimony of a police officer and in closing argument, deprived him of a fair trial. Ray also raises a number of pro se issues. We reverse and order a new trial on the grounds that portions of Ray's in-custody statement were obtained in violation of his right to counsel.
On June 13, 1998, Chauncey Teasley and two of his cousins visited Depring Jackson at her apartment in a high-rise building at 1201 12th Avenue North in North Minneapolis. The security guard, Mitchell Hicks, observed their arrival. After the visit, Teasley was standing in front of the building talking to Jackson and her sister. While they were talking, a red Ford Taurus pulled into the parking lot. Hicks had previously seen the car at the building. Hicks testified that the people in the Taurus appeared to be friends of Jackson.
Although she initially denied it both to the police and the grand jury, Jackson later said that she knew both individuals in the Taurus. Jackson testified at trial that the individuals in the car were Coley Gates,*fn1 the driver, and Ray, the passenger. Jackson's sister did not identify Ray as the passenger when she first talked to police but later picked him out from a photo lineup.
Hicks was never able to identify either Gates or Ray in lineup photos. He described the driver of the Taurus as dark-skinned, wearing a red cap and red shirt, with braided hair, and the passenger as light-skinned, 6 feet 2 inches tall, wearing a blue shirt and blue jeans.
Gates got out of the Taurus, and several individuals witnessed what appeared to be a confrontation between him and Teasley. Teasley returned to the car where his cousins were waiting and said, "I think they're about to get me" and "That's the dude CK[*fn2] I got into it with." A camera monitoring the building then showed Teasley running down the sidewalk. He ran to a wooded area south of the apartment complex.
Jackson told the cousins to get Teasley. When they pulled out of the parking lot, driving east and then south of the apartment complex, the Taurus followed closely. A few moments later, the Taurus turned right toward the wooded area, while the cousins continued straight ahead. The cousins made several turns and ultimately returned to the west of the apartment complex. Neither of the cousins heard any gunshots.
Teasley was shot near the wooded area south of the apartment complex. No witness claimed to have seen the actual shooting. Several witnesses testified about the number of shots they heard. At trial, Hicks testified that he heard two volleys of gunshots, three shots each. At the scene, however, he told officers he heard five sounds like firecrackers, a pause, and then six shots. Jackson testified that she heard six shots, a pause, and then six more. Her sister testified that she heard eight shots, then a pause, then two or three more. She stated that the second round of shots sounded different. Kiachi Blake, a nearby resident, claimed she heard four shots, as did another resident, Kimberly Cooper.
Both Blake and Cooper saw a man running from the scene of the shooting. Blake testified at Ray's trial that the man was wearing short blue jeans, a red shirt, and a red jacket. However, before the grand jury and during Gates' trial, she testified that the person fleeing wore a blue and white jacket. She described his height as 5 feet 3 inches, although she had previously given his height as 5 feet 6 inches or 5 feet 7 inches. Cooper testified that the man she saw fleeing wore a blue jacket with white stripes and had a red rag in his pocket.
When the area of the shooting was searched, investigators located seven expended shell casings, all fired from the same weapon, as well as one live round and a cell phone. Ray's then-girlfriend Latasha Johnson had given Ray the phone a few months earlier, but there was evidence that Gates also used the phone. Ray later told Johnson he had lost the phone.
Ray was indicted by a grand jury for first-degree murder on October 27, 1998. He was later arrested in Chicago. Two Minneapolis police investigators, Sergeant James Violette and Sergeant Michael Tichich, traveled to Chicago to interview Ray on November 9, 1998.
Sergeant Violette read Ray his Miranda rights. After Ray agreed to talk to the police, they repeatedly informed Ray that they knew he was present at 1201 North 12th Avenue on the day of the shooting. They then informed him that he had been indicted by a grand jury for murder in the first degree and that he needed to "stop pretending" that he was not aware of why the police were questioning him. The police went on to say that if Ray started out with an obvious lie, "then nobody believes you." Ray then stated:
Ray: Then get me a public defender down here because you're kind of getting upset and you want to act like you want to try to take this shit out on me like I've got [to] lie. Nobody got to lie to you. I got nothing to lie to you for.
Violette: We are not the ones that are going to take you back to Minnesota. (Emphasis added.)
Following this brief discussion, which the state characterizes as a discussion about extradition, Sergeant Tichich went on:
Tichich: You indicated that you wanted a public defender so when you say that, we have to leave and honor your request * * *. Now, we had hoped that we could (inaudible) address some things, we could share some information and you could make a decision about what you weren't going to say or were going to ...