Mille Lacs County District Court File No. J40150320
Considered and decided by Anderson, Presiding Judge, Schumacher, Judge,
and Willis, Judge.
Advising a juvenile, during police questioning, that he may refuse to answer questions and is free to leave is not solely determinative in deciding whether the juvenile has been subjected to custodial interrogation for Miranda purposes.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: G. Barry Anderson, Judge
Following a bench trial, appellant was adjudicated delinquent for commission of criminal sexual conduct in the second degree. Appellant challenges his adjudication, claiming that his statement, taken while he was in custody, was erroneously admitted at trial, and there was insufficient evidence to support his adjudication. Although we conclude that appellant was in custody and should have been informed of his constitutional rights pursuant to Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S. Ct. 1602 (1996), we conclude that even without appellant's statement, sufficient evidence was admitted to sustain the adjudication.
On August 21, 2000, appellant T.J.C., then fifteen years of age, was playing with M.J., then four years of age, on a trampoline beside M.J.'s house, while M.J.'s mother watched. At some point mother went into the house. While mother was inside, the telephone rang and she answered it, but watched appellant and M.J. through the window. While mother talked on the telephone, she observed appellant lay down on the trampoline with M.J. beside him. Although initially she "couldn't really see what [M.J. and appellant] were doing," mother testified that she saw M.J. "reach over and grab [appellant's] penis." At first mother thought this was an accident but she testified that after the initial touching, appellant "grabbed [appellant's] crotch and moved it around, and then I saw [appellant] look at [M.J.], say something to her, and then [M.J.] went and grabbed him again." At this point mother ran out of the house and told appellant to leave. Mother then called her husband and the police.
Roughly an hour after the incident on the trampoline, mother and father spoke with M.J. and M.J.'s sister, A.J. Mother testified that during this conversation M.J. stated that appellant had asked her to touch his penis.
On August 25, 2000, M.J. was interviewed by Mille Lacs County Sheriff's investigator, Alan Marxhausen. At this interview, M.J. did not specifically mention the "trampoline incident," but stated that appellant "wants me to touch his penis. That's all he does. * * * He let me touch his penis. That's all he done [sic]." M.J. also mentioned an incident that occurred upstairs, when appellant came into her house "butt naked" and had her touch his penis. M.J stated that appellant then touched M.J.'s "potty" and that this happened "a lot." M.J. answered "yeah" when asked if appellant "put his fingers in [M.J.'s] potty." M.J. did not have a medical examination.
On October 18, 2002, appellant was pulled from his special education class and escorted by his teacher to the school's principal's office. In the office the school's liaison police officer, Shelly Milton, and Milaca Police Chief Michael Mott, were waiting. Mott, Milton, and appellant went into an office adjoining the principal's office and the door was closed behind them. Mott made no attempt to contact appellant's parents prior to interviewing appellant.
Mott had an unrecorded conversation with appellant, lasting roughly two to three minutes. In the taped and transcribed portion of appellant's statement, Mott told appellant that he was not under arrest, and that "when we [are] completed [appellant] would be able to get up and walk out of here and go home on the school bus[.]" Mott later reiterated that appellant would be free to go, and that he could get up and leave any time. During the recorded portion of the interview, appellant admitted that while baby-sitting M.J. and A.J., they were playing a game during which he "decided to take off [his] my pants." Appellant stated that M.J. and A.J. attempted to pull his underwear off but were unable to, and it was during the struggle to get his underwear off that M.J. touched his penis. There was no mention of the incident on the trampoline during this interview. Appellant was not, at any time prior to or during the interview, informed of his Miranda rights. At trial, appellant testified that he was "terrified" while being questioned by Mott.
Following trial, appellant was adjudicated delinquent for commission of criminal sexual conduct in the second ...