COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: MADISON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 06/08/2009. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. SAMAC S. RICHARDSON.
FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER, BY: GEORGE T. HOLMES, LESLIE S. LEE.
FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, BY: SCOTT STUART.
KING, JUSTICE. WALLER, C.J., DICKINSON AND RANDOLPH, P.JJ., LAMAR, KITCHENS, CHANDLER, PIERCE AND COLEMAN, JJ., CONCUR.
ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI
NATURE OF THE CASE: CRIMINAL - FELONY
¶1. Walter Tard was convicted in the Madison County Circuit Court of armed robbery and sentenced to serve forty-five years, with ten years suspended and five years of post-release supervision, in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. On writ of certiorari, Tard appeals a Court of Appeals judgment affirming his conviction and sentence. Tard argues that the trial court erred by failing to review his entire videotaped interrogation and by failing to suppress his statement. Further, Tard claims that the Court of Appeals erred by not reviewing the videotaped interrogation on appeal and by affirming the trial court's judgment. Because the record before us fails to indicate upon what evidence the trial court based its decision to deny Tard's motion to suppress his interrogation, we reverse Tard's conviction and sentence and remand the case to the circuit court for a new trial.
¶2. On January 5, 2007, someone robbed a Drury Inn in Ridgeland, Mississippi. During the police investigation of the robbery, Detective Donald Martin of the Ridgeland Police Department obtained the names of a few suspects, one of whom was Walter Tard. The police put together a photographic lineup for the desk clerk who was robbed, and she identified Tard as being the man who had robbed her.
¶3. Soon after, detectives with the Ridgeland Police Department arrested Tard and videotaped his interview with Detective Martin. The interrogation lasted approximately two hours.
¶4. Tard was indicted on May 22, 2007, for armed robbery pursuant to Mississippi Code Section 97-3-79. Tard pleaded not guilty, and the matter was set for trial. Tard moved to suppress his confession, arguing that " such was not voluntarily given in that, under the totality of the circumstances, the investigating Detective made misrepresentations, promises, threats, and inducements in order to get the Defendant to admit to a crime all while the Defendant suffered from a diminished mental capacity." On December 12, 2008, the circuit court held a suppression hearing to consider the admissibility of Tard's confession. At the hearing, Detective Martin testified that he made several misrepresentations to Tard to get him to confess to the robbery. Tard's aunt also testified, claiming Tard had, inter alia, subnormal mental capacity. During the motion to suppress, the trial court made clear that it did not view the entire two-hour videotaped statement when ruling on Tard's motion to suppress. The record is utterly silent regarding what portions of the videotape the trial court viewed.
¶5. The circuit court denied Tard's motion to suppress the confession, noting that investigators use many different techniques to extract statements and confessions from suspects, and that no examples of coercion or promises ...