Friday, July 9, 2010

New murder trial ordered over Miranda violation in 2005 Arlington shooting

A convicted killer won a new trial Wednesday when an appeals court ruled Jacksonville police continued to question him after he asked for a lawyer.

A unanimous three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal cited a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling clarifying the court's landmark Miranda ruling that requires police to tell criminal suspects about their rights to remain silent and to an attorney.

Isaac Wilder, 33, has been serving a mandatory life sentence after his conviction for first-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder in an October 2005 shooting inside a car on University Boulevard North. The shooting killed Laserrio Nashief Lang, 22, and injured Keonna Diamond, 21, who played dead and then drove the vehicle to a nearby McDonald's to call for help.

Wilder was in jail on other charges when police detectives asked him about the shooting a month later. He told them, "I would rather not even talk unless I had an attorney present," and detectives stopped questioning him, according to a partial transcript quoted in Wednesday's ruling.

Later that night, he was returned to the interrogation room to talk with his brother, and detectives re-read the Miranda warning.

According to Wednesday's order, Wilder was assured police didn't want to re-question him and the warning was a formality.

But a few days later, a detective questioned him again without re-reading his rights, and Wilder made the incriminating statements prosecutors used in his 2008 murder trial, according to Wednesday's order. Circuit Judge Linda McCallum rejected a defense motion to exclude the statements.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling says once a defendant asks for a lawyer, that right isn't waived by responding to further police interrogation, even if the Miranda warning is read again. The state appeals court said the ruling mandates reversal in a case like Wilder's.

"He unambiguously communicated his desire that questioning without a lawyer cease. That is precisely ... why the detective ended the interrogation," the state court wrote. Because Wilder didn't initiate the subsequent contact, his incriminating statements were inadmissible, the court said., (904) 359-4107

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