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GEORGE WASHINGTON RIDDLES v. STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

JUNE 05, 1985

GEORGE WASHINGTON RIDDLES
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI



BEFORE PATTERSON, C.J., DAN LEE & ROBERTSON, JJ.

PATTERSON, CHIEF JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

George Washington Riddles was indicted and convicted on one (1) count of burglary and larceny and one (1) count of grand larceny by the Circuit Court of Alcorn County. He was sentenced to five (5) years imprisonment on each count with the sentences to run consecutively. On appeal, Riddles assigns as reversible error:

1. There was no probable cause for his arrest;

 2. The trial court erred by permitting into evidence statements and physical evidence obtained as the result of illegal arrests; and

 3. The verdict of the jury was against the overwhelming weight of the evidence.

 At approximately 9:40 p.m., on August 11, 1982, Officer

 J. R. Henderson (Henderson) left the police station in Corinth, in response to a burglar alarm call coming from Refreshments, Inc., a business establishment in the city. When Henderson arrived at the source of the call, he was joined by Kenneth Williams, President of Refreshments, Inc., and the two men immediately observed a metal, rolling door that had been pried up. Upon entering the building it was apparent there had been a burglary. A search of the building and grounds revealed the unknown burglar had fled the scene. After a short period of additional investigation Henderson returned to the police station.

 Henderson again left the station at about 10:45 p.m., in a police cruiser in response to another call. While performing this mission he observed a person walking down Waldron Street approximately 100 to 250 yards from Refreshments, Inc., the site of his previous burglary investigation. He approached the person to question him because his suspicions were aroused by the pedestrian's proximity to the scene of the burglary and because he was wet and covered with weed seeds.

 When asked for an explanation of his condition, the suspect (Riddles) responded that he had been laying out drunk. Henderson testified, however, that Riddles did not appear drunk, did not stagger, and did not smell of alcohol at the time. Riddles was "patted down" by Henderson but this search revealed nothing.

 Riddles was then taken to the police station for further questioning concerning the burglary. At the station he was given the normal Miranda warning and was afterwards seen stuffing something under the cushion of a chair. An investigation disclosed the objects sought to be concealed were .22 caliber cartridges. Thus alerted, the officers searched the police cruiser in which Riddles had been transported to the station and there discovered a .22 caliber pistol concealed between the cushion and the back of the seat. A further search of Riddles person revealed a vending machine key and a coca cola promotional billfold, both of which had been left by Williams in his desk at Refreshments, Inc.

 Subsequently, after 35 to 40 minutes of interrogation and after again being informed of his Miranda rights, Riddles confessed to the burglary.

 For reversal Riddles first contends there was no probable cause for Henderson to arrest him but that he was in fact arrested when placed in the police car. We

 agree that Riddles was in fact arrested when he was confronted and questioned by Henderson and then placed in the police car. We conclude this is so because Riddles could not have believed under such circumstances that he was free to leave. We reach this decision despite the protestation of Henderson that he did not actually place Riddles under arrest until sometime after their arrival at the police station.

 In United States v. Mendenhall, 446 U.S. 544 (1980), the Supreme Court characterized the meaning of ...


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