STATE OF NEW JERSEY VS. CHARLES PURYEAR/ STATE OF NEW JERSEY VS. MARKUS BROWN
We address the admissibility of custodial statements two co-defendants gave to law enforcement. Puryear and Brown were charged with crimes related to a fatal shooting in Newark, and an armed robbery that took place several days later in Sussex County. Each of them gave two custodial statements, which they moved to suppress.
After a hearing, the trial court initially denied suppression in all respects. Following motions for reconsideration, the court ultimately suppressed Puryear's first statement, admitted Puryear's second statement, admitted Brown's first statement, and suppressed Brown's second statement. We affirm those rulings, as the court had the authority to reconsider and change its interlocutory decisions, and properly did so because of misleading advice given by the interrogating officers.
Puryear's first statement was suppressed because a detective told him at the start of the interview that he could not hurt himself by giving a statement. The court reasoned that the detective's statement improperly neutralized the Miranda warnings. Under the totality of the circumstances, the detective's advice was misleading and the State failed to prove that Puryear's Miranda rights were knowingly waived.
Puryear, however, was re-given his full Miranda rights before his second interview. The court found that he knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently waived those rights and gave a statement. We reject Puryear's contention that his second statement, given hours later and to different detectives, should also have been suppressed.
As to Brown, the court ultimately suppressed his second statement because when Brown asked for a clarification of what was meant by "anything you say can be used against you in a court of law," a detective told him that meant "if you lie, it can be used against you." Under the totality of the circumstances, the detective incorrectly explained one of the required Miranda warnings and, thus, the resulting waiver by Brown was not knowingly given.