Monday, November 28, 2011

TN Court of Appeals Affirms Hamilton County Trial Court's Denial of Motion to Suppress

On November 22nd, the TN Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the trial court's decision to deny a motion to suppress on the case of Kenneth D. Gann. Gann was convicted for the murder of his wife. On the night of the murder, he also attempted to commit suicide by taking pain killers and sealing a plastic bag over his head. When police arrived at the scene, Gann was still alive. He was taken to the hospital and was placed in ICU. When he first made it to the ICU, his condition was stable. However, he was not responsive to the normal tests. After a few hours, he began to wake up and was able to sit up, talk, and drink water without his assistance. He answered correctly to questions about his name and the identity of his parents. Shortly after he woke up, a nurse alerted the police. The police then arrived to take Gann's statement. They explained his constitutional rights and he signed a waiver of rights form. During this interview, he confessed to killing his wife. The interview with the police took a little over one hour. On the recording of the interview, Gann spoke clearly and answered the officers' questions in detail. He said he understood his rights but wanted to give a statement.

After his conviction, Gann appealed, arguing that the statement taken was not given willingly or voluntarily. The appeals court examined a number of factors to determine whether the statement was given voluntarily. Based on the totality of the circumstances, Gann's conviction was upheld. Specifically the court was convinced of the adequacy of the statement by Gann's age, the fact that he was an educated high school graduate, that he was not deprived of food or water during the interview, that he did not receive threats of physical abuse, and that the interview lasted barely over an hour. Further, the court mentioned that Gann spoke clearly on the recording, there was testimony from doctors and nurses that his "thought processes were pretty clear," and that the doctor approved him for discharge. All of these factors taken as a whole failed to prove that the trial court erred in its denial of the motion to suppress.

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