Criminal Law keyed to Dripps
People v. Nelson
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Shortly after turning fifteen years old, Samuel Moses Nelson (Defendant) burglarized three homes and took purses, wallets, and other items. The third burglary occurred at the home of his seventy-two-year-old neighbor, Jane Thompson who was later found dead inside. Sheriff’s department investigators requested to speak with Defendant about the crime. After advising Defendant of hisMirandarights, the investigators questioned him for nearly five-hours in a sheriff’s office interview room. At one point Defendant asked to call his mother to let her know what was happening and to ask her if he should take the polygraph test requested by the investigators. Defendant was unable to reach his mother but spoke to his grandmother and brother who advised him not to take the test and to do nothing until his mother or a lawyer arrived. Nevertheless, Defendant continued to speak to investigators. Toward the end of the interview, the investigators told Defendant to “stop playing games” and to “do the right thing” by writing down on paper what had happened in Thompson’s home. Defendant wrote down that he had repeatedly struck Thompson on the head with a hammer after seeing her begin to wake up while he was burglarizing her home. Defendant was charged as an adult with two counts of first-degree burglary related to the other two burglaries, three counts of first-degree burglary stemming from the Thompson burglary and one count of murder. Prior to trial, defense counsel filed a motion in limine to exclude Defendant’s statements to the investigators. The trial court denied the motion and Defendant was found guilty on all counts following a bench trial. The court of appeals affirmed in part, but reversed the convictions related to Thompson’s murder and the two other burglaries because they were obtained in violation of Defendant’sMirandarights. The California Supreme Court granted certiorari to review.
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