Cop Killer Proves to Be His Own Worst Enemy in Miranda Case
As so often happens, a convicted cop-killer in United States v. Lashaun Casey ended up implicating himself after he continued to talk, despite being Mirandized and notified of his right to remain silent.
It's another example that every criminal attorney should use to teach their clients: just stay quiet.
The case involves the undercover investigation of Lashaun Casey by Puerto Rico Police Dept. Agent Jesus Lizardi-Espada. Espada arranged with Casey the purchase of four pounds of weed sometime in August of 2005. Police detained Casey and read him his rights. While in custody, Casey's grandparents granted police consent to search his room. When they confronted him with evidence, he asked for his lawyer.
What he didn't know was that comments to his common-law wife were overheard by police through the crack of the door -- comments that were highly incriminating. These statements helped form the basis of Casey's felony convictions.
Casey twice declared to two prior police officers that he intended to stay silent and used these facts to argue that all statements that the police officers might have heard should be suppressed.
That theory did not carry much weight with the circuit court. The standard of admissibility, the court said, depends on whether or not the detainee's right to answer questions was "scrupulously honored." As lawyers know, it's is a good rule of thumb to consider all statements admissible when they are the product of uncoerced loose-lip flapping. In his case, Casey said the following to this common-law wife:
"'[k]illing a cop is a federal case ... [t]hey seized a lot of evidence at the house but they don't have the body, anyway, he was an undercover cop and he knew he was on his way to do a drug deal with me and could come out dead or alive."
Material? Reasonable minds could disagree. But in either case, his statements were not made in the context of a custodial-interrogation and he was not being questioned by law enforcement who reasonably knew that the answers would be incriminating. This is textbook law.
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