Georgia Supreme Court oral arguments begin Monday in an October 2012 Baldwin County murder case.
Artenimus Rayshun Mack, 25, who was arrested for the murder of 30-year-old Travin Montez Davis, is appealing a Baldwin County judge's ruling that when his case goes to trial, the jury may hear statements he made to law enforcement officers.
Mack argues the statements should be suppressed because officers failed to stop interrogating him after he invoked his constitutional right to remain silent.
Attorney John Bradley will defend Mack, while Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit District Attorney Fred Bright, Chief Assistant Stephen Bradley and Assistant D.A. Daniel Cochran will represent the state.
On Oct. 31, 2012, Davis’ was discovered on the side of Treanor Drive road in Baldwin County. The victim had been shot twice in the chest, according to autopsy reports.
Upon investigating, the Baldwin County Sheriff's Office (BCSO) identified Mack as a suspect.
After learning there was an active warrant for a probation violation, Baldwin deputies arrested Mack on Nov. 1, 2012 in Gwinnett County, where he lived.
On Nov. 1 and 2, Mack was interviewed five times by various detectives in a BCSO interview room.
The focus of the interviews, which were video recorded on DVDs, was the Davis' murder. Throughout, Mack was at various times advised of his Miranda rights (the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney), which law enforcement officers must read to defendants in custody before interrogating them.
In the first interview, Mack stated he was present when Davis was killed but that he did not shoot him. He maintained that a third person had killed Mack.
According to Ga. Supreme Court documents, during the interview recorded on the second DVD, Mack continued to maintain that he did not shoot the victim.
In the third DVD, after Lt. Bobby Langford said to Mack, “Let's get this [interview] done,” Mack told Langford, “I'm done. I have no more to say. I'm done. Let's ride.”
Then Mack stood up. Another officer told him to sit down. “I'm done,” Mack repeated. “I mean I ain't got no more to say.”
The officer told him again to sit down and be quiet.
“Man, I have no more to say,” Mack said. “Y’all going to sit here and just tell me my story is a lie. I have no more to say. You're going to charge me, man, charge me. Take me in. Let's rock. I'm ready to go.”
According to documents, Langford continued interviewing Mack another 35 minutes until after 5 p.m., and Mack continued denying he had shot the victim.
On the second day, the interviews resumed. The final DVD contains an interview of Mack by Langford that began at 12:03 p.m. and ended at 12:11 p.m.
After Langford again read him his Miranda rights, Mack allegedly admitted that he had shot Davis.
Mack was indicted by a Baldwin County grand jury for murder, armed robbery, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
His attorney filed a motion to suppress his custodial statements, arguing that Mack's constitutional right to remain silent had been violated. Following a hearing, the trial court ruled that Mack “did not unequivocally invoke his right to remain silent” and that he intentionally initiated the conversations with Langford the second day.
As a result, the trial court ruled, all of his videotaped statements would be admitted into evidence leading to the Supreme Court appeal.
The public defender argues the trial court erred by denying Mack's motion to suppress statements. Mack “clearly and unequivocally invoked his right to remain silent,” the defense attorney argues.
“In the present case, Mr. Mack not only verbally invoked his right to remain silent, he also physically stood up to leave the interview room, leaving no question that he was seeking to terminate the interrogation,” the defense said.
Mack's lawyer thinks statements on both Nov. 1 and Nov. 2, “subsequent to the invocation of his right to remain silent must be suppressed.”
The defense will argue that Langford in particular continued the interrogation and continued to push Mack to admit that he shot the man.
“The fact that appellant was advised of his Miranda rights by Lt. Langford during the Nov. 2 interviews does not make his statements during the Nov. 2 interviews admissible,” according to the defense in court documents.
The State argues that Miranda warnings were administered at the beginning of every separate interview.
“At no time did the defendant request a lawyer,” prosecutors argue in briefs. “The only arguable instance of invocation of rights is when the defendant, toward the end of the afternoon of the first day, says that he was 'done.' However, he does not then stop talking. Rather, he asked numerous times the next morning to speak to the officers.”
All the officers that interviewed the defendant clearly showed he understood his rights.
Any error from not terminating the interview the first day, the State contends, “was cured by the defendant renewing contact with the officers on the second day.”
Mack was read his rights, and he “made a knowing and intelligent waiver of any previous invocation of right to remain silent,” according to the State. The State will argue that the only remaining question is whether the defendant clearly invoked his right to remain silent on the first day of questioning.
In this case, the trial court found that Mack's comments, “did not constitute a clear, unequivocal invocation of rights. Where the record supports the trial court's findings that Mack's statements were freely and voluntarily given, that ruling should be upheld.”
*Information from the Supreme Court Office of Public Information summary aided this report.