from the Marion Superior Court, Juvenile Division Trial Court
Cause No. 49D09-1602-JD-234 The Honorable Scott Stowers,
Magistrate The Honorable Marilyn A. Moores, Judge
Attorney for Appellant Amy Karozos Greenwood, Indiana
Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana Caryn N. Szyper Deputy Attorney General
B.A. appeals the juvenile court's true finding that he
committed delinquent acts which, if committed by an adult,
would constitute false reporting, a level 6 felony, and
institutional criminal mischief as a class A misdemeanor.
B.A. raises one issue which we revise and restate as whether
the court abused its discretion in admitting into evidence
certain statements, which he alleges were obtained in
violation of his constitutional right against
self-incrimination. We affirm.
and Procedural History
On Friday, February 5, 2016, Officer Paul Tutsie, Chief
Administrative Officer for the Metropolitan School District
of Decatur Township School Police Department who worked
primarily at the high school, received a call that one of the
janitors at Decatur Middle School discovered a message
written in pink marker on the wall of one of the boys'
restrooms at the school reading: "I will got [sic] a
bomb in the school Monday 8th 2016 Not a
joke." State's Exhibit 1. Officer Tutsie,
"immediately went into investigative mode, took it as a
credible . . . threat" that was "ongoing."
Transcript at 63. That evening, Officer Tutsie took pictures
of the scene and reviewed footage from a hall camera to
identify who was responsible. By the end of Friday evening,
he had narrowed his search to four individuals that could
have possibly been involved. The next day, Officer Tutsie met
with Decatur Middle School Principal Val Barrantine for help
identifying the four persons he had narrowed the search to
from the video data. Officer Tutsie also showed photos to
Vice Principal Missy Harvey to identify the individuals. By
the end of the weekend, they had two "very viable
suspects, " one of whom was B.A. Id. at 66.
On Monday morning, February 8, 2016, Vice Principal Al Remaly
conducted a sweep of the school with School Resource Officers
Lyday and Wheeler and determined there was no immediate
threat. Afterwards, Remaly went back to his office and met
with Officer Tutsie and Officer Lyday, who was primarily
stationed at the elementary schools, to discuss how to handle
the situation and specifically to "try to . . . handle
everything as a school matter first." Id. at
13. Officer Tutsie suggested that the buses be boarded by
both administrators and police officers to remove the
suspects from the buses. They planned for the two school
administrators, Remaly and Harvey, to board the buses
"along with the . . . officers to get the students off
the bus, bring them into school to separate areas, and start
[their] investigation." Id. at 14.
When the buses arrived at the school, Remaly and Officer
Lyday boarded the school bus B.A. was on, removed B.A., and
brought him into Remaly's office, which is large and
L-shaped. Officer Wheeler, who was primarily stationed at the
middle school, went with Harvey to remove the other student
suspect and took that student to Harvey's office. Remaly
sat at his desk, and B.A. sat in a chair in front of the
desk. Officer Lyday stood about five feet to the left of B.A.
and out of B.A.'s direct line of sight. Remaly asked B.A.
if he knew why he was there, and B.A. responded that he had
no idea. Early on in the questioning, Officer Tutsie entered
the room and took the spot where Officer Lyday was standing,
and Officer Lyday backed up. Officer Lyday later sat at the
conference table in the office about seven to ten feet behind
Meanwhile, Harvey engaged in questioning with the other
student while in the presence of Officer Wheeler. The
questions were posed at Harvey's discretion. She also
obtained a handwriting sample from the student. After
speaking with the student for about five or six minutes, she
determined that he was not involved in making the threat.
Harvey then went to Remaly's office where he was still
speaking with B.A. Officer Wheeler also went to Remaly's
office, arriving a few minutes ahead of Harvey, and he sat
down at the conference table when Harvey arrived.
Remaly directed the interview with B.A. the entire time. B.A
denied writing on the bathroom wall several times. At one
point, Officer Lyday said to B.A.: "Come on, bud,
let's just- let's- let's- can we just get- tell
the truth and answer the questions." Id. at 54.
Officer Tutsie handed a handwriting "scenario
sample" that he had prepared to Remaly. Id. at
74. Remaly soon after handed it back to Officer Tutsie, who
then passed it to B.A. at Remaly's direction. Officer
Tutsie "explained" to B.A. that he needed B.A.
"to fill out exactly how it was written on the
paper." Id. at 74. After B.A. copied the
scenario sample, Officer Tutsie examined it, handed it to
Remaly, and Remaly compared it to a picture of the bathroom
wall writing, circling letters from the scenario "that
kinda matched the picture . . . ." Id.
After comparing the writings, Remaly came to the conclusion
that B.A. wrote the threat on the bathroom wall and said to
B.A. that the handwriting looks similar and asked him
"why did you do it?" Id. at 120. B.A. then
started to cry and responded: "I don't know. I'm
sorry." Id. At that point, Remaly decided to
move B.A. to the main office and call B.A.'s mother. The
meeting in Remaly's office lasted approximately fifteen
B.A.'s mother arrived and asked B.A. what he did, and
B.A. started to cry and said "I don't know, mom,
I'm- I'm sorry." Id. at 122. He
indicated that it was a joke and he did not know why he did
it. Remaly decided to suspend B.A., pending expulsion, and
then met in the hallway with the officers and informed them
of his decision, and he noted it was up to law enforcement to
determine what they wanted to do. Remaly later returned to
the office and informed B.A. and his mother of his decision.
Afterwards, Officer Tutsie and Officer Lyday discussed the
potential legal ramifications with B.A. and his mother and
made a decision to arrest B.A. He was ultimately expelled
from the school as a result of the incident.
On February 9, 2016, the State alleged B.A. to be a
delinquent child for false reporting, an act which would be a
level 6 felony if committed by an adult, and for
institutional criminal mischief, an act which would be a
class A misdemeanor if committed by an adult. On May 18,
2016, B.A. filed a motion to suppress statements he had made.
A denial hearing commenced the same day, at the outset of
which the parties discussed whether to proceed as a hearing
on a motion to suppress or a denial hearing. The court ruled
to "handle the trial as normal" but to consider
B.A.'s motion to suppress when raised at the hearing.
Id. at 7.
During the direct examination of Remaly, defense counsel
objected when Remaly began testifying about his questioning
of B.A. and, after asking preliminary questions, moved to
suppress the evidence of the conversation due to a violation
of B.A.'s Miranda rights. Defense counsel also
objected during the testimony of Officer Tutsie and argued
that the investigation was "generated" by Officer
Tutsie to determine whether an individual had committed a
crime. Id. at 93. Defense counsel highlighted that
the office had up to six adults, that B.A.'s parent was
not present, and that there was not an advisement of rights.
The prosecutor responded that "[t]here was an ongoing
threat, " that "[t]here was a school purpose to
talk to this student" and the other student, and that it
was a "matter of school safety." Id. at
96. The prosecutor argued that, with the exception of a few
statements by officers, the interview was conducted by Remaly
to determine whether there was "a credible ongoing
threat . . . ." Id. After hearing arguments,
the court briefly recessed and, following recess, denied
B.A.'s motion, ruling that
the investigation and questioning was led by . . . Remaly,
um, either Officer Tutsie or one of his, uh colleagues was
present. Uh, there's really no indication that, uh,
Officer Tutsie or any of the police or school resource
officers was feeding him questions or otherwise pulling his
strings in an effort to circumvent Miranda.
Id. at 104. Following the court's ruling, the
hearing adjourned for the day. The hearing resumed on June 6,
2016, at which the court entered findings of ...