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State v. Grimm

Court of Appeals of Oregon

February 14, 2018

STATE OF OREGON, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
JASON ALLEN GRIMM, Defendant-Appellant.

          Argued and submitted September 19, 2016

         Multnomah County Circuit Court 14CR17532; Kelly Skye, Judge.

          Emily P. Seltzer, Deputy Public Defender, argued the cause for appellant. With her on the brief was Ernest G. Lannet, Chief Defender, Criminal Appellate Section, Offce of Public Defense Services.

          Christopher A. Perdue, Assistant Attorney General, argued the cause for respondent. On the brief were Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, Benjamin Gutman, Solicitor General, and Michael S. Shin, Assistant Attorney General.

          Before Lagesen, Presiding Judge, and Egan, Chief Judge, and Schuman, Senior Judge.

         Case Summary:

         Defendant was convicted of private indecency, ORS 163.467, for exposing himself to a woman while installing internet service in her home. On appeal, he assigns error to the trial court's denial of his motion to suppress evidence of statements that he made during an interview with police officers, contending that he was under compelling circumstances at the time and had not been given Miranda warnings. Held: Considering the totality of the circumstances, the state failed to carry its burden that defendant was not in compelling circumstances when defendant admitted to the behavior that formed the basis for the charge. Thus, the trial court erred in failing to suppress those unwarned statements and the statements that followed. Moreover, the error was not harmless.

          [290 Or. 174] EGAN, C. J.

         Defendant was convicted of private indecency, ORS 163.467, [1] following a bench trial. He appeals the judgment of conviction, assigning error to the trial court's denial of his motion to suppress evidence of statements that he made during an interview with police officers. He contends that the statements were obtained in violation of his rights under Article I, section 12, of the Oregon Constitution because he was under compelling circumstances at the time and was not provided with Miranda warnings. Given the totality of the circumstances, we agree that the circumstances of defendant's encounter with police became compelling before defendant made statements admitting to the charged conduct; accordingly, the trial court erred in admitting those unwarned statements. Because that error was not harmless, we reverse and remand.

         We state the historical facts consistently with the trial court's findings that are supported by sufficient evidence in the record; we presume that the trial court resolved disputed facts consistently with its express factual findings and its ruling denying defendant's motion to suppress. State v. Shaff, 343 Or. 639, 641, 648, 175 P.3d 454 (2007).

         A woman called 9-1-1 to report that defendant, a subcontractor for Comcast, had pulled his pants down and exposed himself while installing her internet service. The next evening, Portland Police Officer Stowe called defendant and asked him if he would be willing to come voluntarily to the police station to give Stowe "his side of the story." Defendant agreed to come to the station and speak to the officer and arrived about an hour later.

         [290 Or. 175] Stowe and another officer, Steigleder, who had experience investigating sex crimes, met defendant at the front door and showed him into a small meeting room right off the main lobby and about 15 feet from the front door of the station. The room was ordinarily used for meeting with community members, taking crime reports, and interviewing crime victims. The officers were in uniform and armed.

         The interview room had two doors and windows facing the street. It was unlocked, and no security code was needed to enter or leave. It contained a small round table that the officers and defendant sat around; defendant sat in the chair closest to the door to the lobby, Steigleder sat to his right, and Stowe sat to the right of Steigleder. Neither officer blocked defendant's access to the exit door. The room did not have any cameras or police equipment in it, and the temperature was comfortable.

         The interview began with Stowe asking defendant to tell his side of the story.[2] Defendant was not advised of his Miranda rights then or at any point during the interview. The officers never raised their voices, and there was no show of physical force or indication that the officers might engage in physical force.

         Defendant first said that he was installing some cable devices in the complainant's home and, while he was in a crouched position, his belt broke and his pants fell down. The complainant came into the room while his pants were still down. He said that his penis was not exposed. He showed the officers the belt, which he had brought with him. It looked like it had been cut rather than torn from use.[3] Defendant stood up at some point to show the officers how his pants were fitting; the officers did not tell him to sit down. Otherwise, the officers and defendant remained seated during the interview.

         [290 Or. 176] Stowe pointed out to defendant that his version of the incident was inconsistent with the complainant's version. The second or third time that defendant told his story, he said that his penis may have been exposed a little through a hole in his underwear. When Stowe told defendant that that was also different from the complainant's account, defendant said that the complainant was lying. Each time that defendant told the story, he added details that he had not included before. Stowe was "unconvinced" by defendant's account of events.

         Steigleder, who did the majority of the questioning, told defendant that she did not think his story made sense and communicated that she did not believe he was telling the truth. At the suppression hearing, she testified:

"I would point out the inconsistency [with the complainant's statement] and give him another chance to tell me the story, and he told the story and he changed it a little, and then I'd point out the next inconsistency and he would change it again. And we just kind of-it was kind of I let him tell the story and then I would point out why it didn't make sense and then said, you know, I don't think that's quite the way ...

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