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Opinion of the Court.
small girl and had never since been apprehended. At approximately 11:50 a. m. on November 17, as petitioner entered the bar of a restaurant in downtown Los Angeles, a civilian recognized him as the man whom the police were seeking in connection with the murder. The civilian summoned a police officer, Carlson, who thereupon arrested petitioner.
From this point on there are some conflicts in the testimony, as noted below. Carlson, accompanied by the civilian, took petitioner to the park foreman's office in nearby Pershing Square, where Carlson called headquarters to report his arrest of petitioner and to request that a police car be sent. Then Carlson, in the presence of the civilian and the park foreman, proceeded to search petitioner. Carlson had petitioner stand facing the wall with his hands raised against it and his feet away from it. While being searched in this position, petitioner pulled his feet closer to the wall and then Carlson, with the side of his shoe, kicked petitioner's shoes at the toes in order to push petitioner's feet back into position. The civilian testified that “possibly" Carlson's foot slipped and hit petitioner's shin “once or twice.” Carlson testified that at no time did he "strike" petitioner or "inflict any kind of physical injury on him."i No marks were found on petitioner when he was examined by a physician a few hours later. It also appears that after searching petitioner, Carlson took out his blackjack, held it under petitioner's nose, and said either, “Do you know what this is for?” or "Have you seen this?” Petitioner makes no claim that Carlson used the blackjack on him. While waiting for the police car to arrive the civilian asked petitioner whether he was guilty of the murder, and petitioner "mumbled something under his breath that sounded like 'I guess I am.'” Thereupon, according to the civilian,
1 Petitioner himself did not testify at the trial.
Opinion of the Court.
the park foreman slapped petitioner with his open hand and knocked off petitioner's glasses.
Without undue delay the police car arrived and petitioner was driven to the District Attorney's office in the Hall of Justice Building. While en route one of the police officers in the car began a conversation with petitioner by asking him where he had been. Petitioner replied, “Well, after that terrible thing happened, I went down to the beach, down to Ocean Park. I was going to do away with myself.” The officer said, "What do you mean by that terrible thing ?” to which petitioner replied, “When the little girl got killed.” The officer then interposed, “Do you mean when you killed the little girl?” and petitioner answered, “Yes. I was going down to the beach. I was going to jump in the ocean and commit suicide but I decided that I would have to pay on the other side so I might as well come back and pay on this side.” The officer testified that he did not promise petitioner any reward or extend to him any hope of immunity, and that he did not use force or threats of any kind. The officer's entire testimony regarding this conversation is uncontradicted, and, insofar as it contains a confession by petitioner, no objection was made at the trial on the ground that such confession was involuntary.
Petitioner did object at the trial, however, to the introduction in evidence of a confession which he made after his arrival in the District Attorney's office. Petitioner was brought to the District Attorney's office at approximately 1 p. m., and an assistant district attorney began questioning petitioner in the presence of some nineteen persons, attaches of the District Attorney and the police department. The entire proceeding was recorded on a recording machine which had been set in operation before petitioner's arrival. Petitioner stated that on the afternoon of November 14, his victim came to the home of petitioner's daughter, where petitioner was visiting; he
Opinion of the Court.
took his victim into the bedroom and made advances upon her; when she began to scream, he became frightened, got hold of her throat, and squeezed it until she became quiet; she started to squirm again, so he took a necktie from the dresser and tied it around her neck; when she continued to move, he took her off the bed, wrapped her in a blanket, and hit her on the temple with a hammer which he had obtained from the kitchen drawer; he then dragged her across the back yard to the incinerator, returned to the kitchen to get an ice pick, and pushed the pick into her three times in an effort to reach her heart; next he got an axe from the garage and hit her on the head and backbone; finally he got a knife from the kitchen and stabbed her in the back of the neck, covered her body with boxes, and left for Ocean Park, a beach resort within the city of Los Angeles, where he remained for the three nights before his apprehension.
Towards the end of the recording petitioner stated that the officers had not threatened or abused him in any way, either in the park foreman's office or the District Attorney's office. The recording disclosed no mistreatment at the time of the making of the confession.
The questioning of petitioner in the District Attorney's office lasted approximately two hours. About 45 minutes after petitioner had begun his confession, an attorney, Mr. Gray, called at the waiting room of the District Attorney's office and asked for the assistants handling the case. Upon being advised that they were busy he then asked for the District Attorney. Upon being told that the District Attorney was also in conference and could not be disturbed, Mr. Gray asked to see petitioner. It is uncontradicted that at that point Mr. Gray stated to a police department inspector who was present in the waiting room that he "just wanted to hear from [petitioner's] lips whether or not” petitioner had committed the murder, "so that [he] could report back” to petitioner's son-in
law.? Mr. Gray was denied admission to the room in which petitioner was being questioned, but talked to an assistant district attorney after the confession had been completed. Mr. Gray was permitted to see petitioner that evening. Mr. Gray did not represent petitioner during the trial, but on the motion for new trial was substituted, at petitioner's request, for the Public Defender.
Shortly after 3 p. m., petitioner was taken from the District Attorney's office to Dr. Marcus Crahan, a physician in charge of the hospital of the county jail, for a physical and mental examination. Dr. Crahan, when called by petitioner as a witness at the trial, testified that he examined petitioner carefully, including his feet and shins, but found no bruises or abrasions of any kind. According to Dr. Crahan, during the examination petitioner stated that since his arrest the police officers had been very kind to him and that he had not been “mistreated” and had been given "every consideration." Petitioner related to Dr. Crahan the details of the killing.
Petitioner was lodged in the county jail for the night and was arraigned in the Municipal Court at 10 o'clock the following morning, November 18.
Thereafter, in the six weeks' period between the date of his arraignment and the beginning of his trial, petitioner was examined by four psychiatrists 3 and one clinical psychologist. To each of these persons he stated that he had killed his victim and recounted, in greater or lesser detail, just how he had gone about the killing. These experts, when testifying at the trial (two having been called by the prosecution and three by the petitioner), related to the jury what petitioner had told them. Petitioner did
2 R. 287–288 (testimony of John D. Gray); see also R. 210 (testimony of Inspector J. A. Dona hoe).
3 Three of these psychiatrists had been appointed by the trial court pursuant to Cal. Penal Code, 1951, § 1027.
Opinion of the Court.
not object at the time, and makes no objection now, to the admission of these confessions on the ground that they were involuntary.
The trial court charged the jury that it could not consider a confession unless it was voluntary; that the jury was the sole judge of voluntariness; and that a confession was not voluntary when obtained by any kind of violence, abuse, or threat, or by "any coaxing, cajoling, or menacing influence which induces in the mind of the defendant the belief or hope that he will gain some advantage by making a confession.” The court further charged that the fact that a confession is made while an accused is under arrest and being detained, or when he is not represented by counsel, or without his having been told that any statement he makes may be used against him, does not in itself make the confession involuntary, but is one circumstance to be considered in determining the voluntariness of the confession. The court admonished the jury to view with caution the testimony of any witness which purports to relate an oral confession by a defendant.
The California Supreme Court stated: “We may assume that, as a matter of law under the circumstances shown," petitioner's confession in the District Attorney's office was involuntary. The court felt, however, that the use of that confession could not have affected the fairness of (petitioner's] trial,” because petitioner "thereafter made at least five confessions, of materially similar substance and unquestioned admissibility, which were put in evidence,” and because “[i]t does not appear that the outcome of the trial would have differed” if that confession had been excluded. Therefore the court concluded that use of the confession had not deprived petitioner of due process.
4 36 Cal. 2d at 623, 226 P. 2d at 335. 5 36 Cal. 2d at 623, 226 P. 2d at 336.