Appeal from the Lake Superior Court, No. 45G03-1102-MR-2. The Honorable Diane Ross Boswell, Judge. On Petition to Transfer from the Indiana Court of Appeals, No. 45A03-1205-CR-212.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: Thomas W. Vanes, Merrillville, Indiana; Mark A. Bates, Crown Point, Indiana.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: Gregory F. Zoeller, Attorney General of Indiana, Ian A.T. McLean, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, Indiana.
David, Justice. Dickson, C.J., Rucker, Massa, and Rush, JJ., concur.
Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear drenched communities . . . .
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail (April 16, 1963). Dr. King's letter expressed, in measured optimism, a desire to see a country free of racial discrimination. Writing while in jail for protesting racism and segregation in Birmingham, Alabama, he also noted the " interrelatedness" of instances of racial inequity. " Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere," he said. " Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly." It is in service to this truth that we approach our opinion today.
In this case, a police detective interrogated an African-American murder suspect. We have long held that law enforcement officers conducting interrogations may use a range of tactics and techniques to persuade suspects to provide incriminating statements. And we understand that simple question-and-answer methods will not always be successful. But the flexibility afforded to law enforcement is still bound by state and federal constitutional protections.
Over the course of several hours the detective here employed a number of interrogation techniques to convince the suspect to admit his guilt. Most of these techniques were acceptable. But when he implied that the suspect's race precluded him from receiving a fair trial and an impartial jury, he went too far.
Facts and Procedural History
A detective from the Gary Police Department was investigating a cold case murder from 2007. During the course of an unrelated investigation in 2009, he received a tip that McLynnerd Bond, Jr. was responsible for the 2007 murder. On February 12, 2011, the detective learned that Bond was in custody at the Gary Police Department on outstanding county warrants. He brought Bond into an interrogation room to question him about the 2007 murder.
The detective read Bond his Miranda rights, which Bond waived. For three hours, Bond consistently and adamantly denied being involved in the murder. The detective's interrogation approach was to convince Bond that the police knew he was guilty and the only thing Bond could do to mitigate this was to admit guilt. The detective implied he could help Bond achieve a better outcome if he confessed--hinted that he might get a lesser--included charge than murder-and that Bond could see his children and talk to ...