Judge rejects request to throw out sex assault confession
By ERIC FRANCIS
CORRESPONDENT | September 09,2013
WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — A Charlestown, N.H., man accused of sexually assaulting a Springfield teenager last fall after she passed out at a friend’s home has failed in an effort to get his alleged confession thrown out of court.
Kyle Stevens, 24, has been held for lack of $75,000 bail since November when he pleaded innocent to felony counts of sexual assault and attempted sexual assault on a minor under the age of 16. The charges could put him behind bars for a mandatory minimum of three years or up to life, if convicted.
At a hearing a week ago at the courthouse in downtown White River Junction, Judge Robert Gerety rejected a defense motion to suppress an admission that Stevens allegedly made to Springfield Police Detective Anthony Moriglioni.
Moriglioni testified in court that he knew when he went to an apartment building on Main Street in Springfield to speak with Stevens about the girl’s accusation that he would ultimately end up arresting Stevens because New Hampshire had already issued a warrant for Stevens in an unrelated matter.
Attorney Sandra Nelson argued that because the officer knew he was about to arrest Stevens, the officer should have advised Stevens of his Miranda right to consult with an attorney before answering questions. Moriglioni said, however, that Stevens admitted to having had sex with the girl, which he allegedly characterized as a consensual encounter, after only being asked whether he knew her and where he knew her from.
Windsor County State’s Attorney Michael Kainen argued that when Stevens was asked to accompany the detective down the hallway to a vacant apartment, with the door left deliberately open, he was not the subject of the kind of “custodial interrogation” that would have triggered the need for a Miranda warning.
“The United States Supreme Court was trying to avoid inherently compelling and coercive investigative techniques (like) where someone was strapped to a bench in a police department and subjected to extended interviews,” Kainen argued. “The standard isn’t what is in the mind of the particular defendant or officer involved but rather, ‘What is in the mind of a reasonable person in the defendant’s position?’”
Gerety agreed with Kainen’s position on the motion, saying from the bench, “The defendant essentially blurted out that he had engaged in sexual relations with the complaining witness ... an incriminating statement. At no time during the discussion was the defendant in any way physically blocked from leaving the room ... the defendant at all times had an unobstructed view of the (open) doorway of the room.”
“The court makes a finding of fact that a reasonable person under the circumstances existing then would have felt free to leave that area and to decline to answer questions,” Gerety ruled, adding, “the court also finds that there was not a direct question asked of the defendant (as to) whether they had engaged in any sexual contact ... that information was volunteered by the defendant in response to other questions.”
Gerety said that his finding that Stevens was not in custody at the time meant “there was no requirement under the law that he be informed of his rights under Miranda, so there was no unlawful interrogation.”
The judge said that once Stevens was arrested and brought back to the police station for processing he was read his rights and at that point Stevens declined to answer any further questions.