At shortly after 1:00 a.m., an officer and his partner went to an apartment in response to a radio report of a person in distress. A New York Family Lawyer said outside the building, they were joined by two other police officers. In front of the building, the officers met a woman, who stated that her cousin, had a baby and the baby, who was up in the apartment, had died
A New York Custody Lawyer said the woman led them up to the apartment, where they met the offender’s grandaunt. One of the officers directly moved into a bedroom where he saw the offender resting on one bed and the baby, wrapped in a towel, on the other bed. A garbage bag containing what appeared to be the afterbirth was near the baby’s body. The officer assesses the baby’s pulse and felt nothing. The emergency medical services arrived shortly afterward. Since there was a dead infant, the officer was obliged to contact a detective supervisor, the crime scene unit and the district attorney’s office.
The officer did not ask the offender further questions aside from asking her how she felt. In the investigation, the officer testified that the offender remained in the bedroom from the time of his arrival until she was later taken to the hospital. The officer also asserted that the offender was not restrained in the apartment, was not under arrest and she was not even arrested the following day.
Another officer responded to the incident and arrived with another detective about 1:25 a.m. The said officer spoke to the first officer, who confirmed that there was a dead infant and the mother was also there.
A Brooklyn Family Lawyer said the second officer met the offender’s grandaunt in the vestibule area and asked her if they can talk privately. The offender’s grandaunt took the officer to the boy’s bedroom.
Subsequently, the second officer first looked at the baby for possible physical damage or other indications of physical abuse and neglect. He turned the baby from side to side, examined the rear of the head and back and found no injuries. He then looked in the bag and observed what appeared to be afterbirth. As a result, the preliminary conclusions revealed that the offender had recently give birth and that the baby was either born dead or died shortly thereafter.
The second officer, who was in plainclothes, explained to the offender that he was there to investigate and that he would like some kind of statement as to what happened. He asked the offender if she wanted to write down what had happened and she responded that he should write it.
A Brooklyn Child Custody Lawyer said the offender and her grandaunt communicated well with the second officer. The offender discussed what happened and stated that when she was taking a shower, she felt pain in her abdomen and a baby came out of her. The baby then fell into the tub. She further stated that she stood there for about fifteen minutes looking at the baby as it was lying in the tub and the blood was going down the drain. Afterward, she picked the baby and put him in a towel. She got dressed and cleaned up the bathroom and put the bloody towels in the washing machine to clean them. Then she took her baby and put him on the bed wrapped in a towel with his head sticking out. Then, she went into the kitchen and ate dinner.
The offender stated that she didn’t tell her grandaunt what happened because she was afraid. After dinner, she went to her room to watch a movie. Then, her cousin came into the room and asked if it was a baby and she responded no, and told that it was a baby doll. Subsequently, her grandaunt came in her room, opened the towel, saw the baby and called 911.
After the interview, the second officer thanked the offender and her grandaunt, and asked them if they had any questions for him. But, neither one did. The entire transaction took approximately twenty five minutes and at no time there that the offender was restrained.
After the second officer was relieved of duty at about 8:00 a.m., he conducted no further investigation of the said matter. When he left the apartment, two members of the crime scene unit, in addition to about five officers were present, as were an assistant district attorney and some emergency medical services personnel.
At the trial, the first officer testified that subsequently the offender was removed to a hospital at about 3:45 a.m. for a psychiatric evaluation, and that during the removal she was handcuffed for safety reasons as a matter of policy.
Consequently, the presentment agency filed a juvenile delinquency petition charging the offender with committing acts which, were she an adult, would constitute the crimes of assault in the first degree, manslaughter in the second degree, and criminally negligent homicide based upon conduct alleged to have caused the death of her newborn infant.
At the hearing, the court found the apartment to have been police-dominated and that the questioning was coercive. The court then suppressed the mother’s statement on Miranda grounds. The petition subsequently dismissed on the ground that the presentment agency failed to establish the allegations.
The agency appealed on whether the Miranda warnings should have been given to the 15 year old offender under the factual circumstances of the case, where police were called to their apartment for assistance and found the offender’s dead newborn infant. They also appealed for the order suppressing the offender’s statement and the order dismissing the petition.
Sources revealed that the family court found significant inconsistencies within the second officer’s testimony and the offender grandaunt’s testimony when they read the record differently. Rather, the second officer conceded when his memory was unclear and credibly explained why the offender’s grandaunt significantly corroborated material details of the second officer’s testimony. Consequently, the court did not detract from the overall credibility of the second officer’s testimony.
The court also noted the discrepancy about whether the offender had been in the bedroom, not having moved from her bed, or had been elsewhere in the apartment when the second officer arrived. But, the officer conceded his own lack of recall on the point and provided an explanation. Reasonably, he might have confused with the offender’s cousin and the offender, or perhaps he had not yet had a basis to focus sufficiently with the offender. Nevertheless, his testimony does not demonstrate any intent to fabricate, the implication of the court’s findings. The court also credited the grandaunt’s testimony that the offender was in the bedroom at all relevant times.
The court also found that there is no reasonable, objective, reading of the record to support the court’s conclusion that the offender was subjected for custodial interrogation.
Consequently, the order of the court after a hearing which granted the offender’s motion to suppress a statement and order which dismissed the petition will be reversed. The motion is denied, the petition is reinstated and the issue is remanded for further proceedings.
The family court ordered to reversed, on the law and the facts, without costs, the motion by the offender to suppress a statement denied, the appeal is reinstated and the matter is remanded for further proceedings.
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