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Jones v. State

Court of Appeals of Georgia, Second Division

February 28, 2018

JONES
v.
THE STATE.

          MILLER, P. J., DOYLE, P. J., and REESE, J.

          Doyle, Presiding Judge.

         Following a jury trial, Arthur Jones was convicted of burglary[1] and armed robbery[2] and acquitted on a count of possessing a firearm during the commission of a felony.[3] He appeals from the partial denial of his motion for new trial, [4] contending that (1) the trial court erred by admitting inculpatory statements he made during a police interview because they were not voluntary, (2) he received ineffective assistance of counsel, and (3) the trial court failed to re-sentence him following his successful merger argument at the motion for new trial. In light of the promises made by the interviewing detective creating a hope that Jones would not be charged if he confessed, we agree and reverse.

         The record shows that police received information that Jones, a 14-year-old boy, was involved in a burglary at Mycreatisha Davis's apartment. Detectives went to Jones's residence to discuss the alleged burglary and asked his mother if they could speak to Jones. His mother agreed and allowed the detectives to go to Jones's upstairs bedroom to speak to him. A detective explained to Jones that they were there to talk about some recent burglaries, and Jones handed her some videos that had been stolen from Davis. The detective also observed in plain view two cell phones and asked the mother about them; Jones's mother told the detective she did not know where one of them came from. At that point, the detectives determined that Jones would be charged with the burglary, and they handcuffed Jones and told him and his mother that they would be bringing him downtown for further questioning. Police told the mother she could come to the police station, and the mother replied that she would meet them there shortly after "tak[ing] care of a few things."

         The mother arrived in the police station lobby five or ten minutes after police had arrived with Jones, and police explained that they were interviewing Jones and he was going to be charged with burglary. The mother did not ask to be present, and police did not inform her that she could be present.

         During the ensuing interview, which lasted approximately 30 minutes, Jones was Mirandized[5] and admitted being the lookout in the Davis burglary and another burglary in Alabama. The detective asked Jones about other burglaries in the same apartment complex, but he denied involvement in any other burglaries. Jones was then released to his mother.

         After police obtained additional information linking Jones to the crimes in this case - an armed robbery and burglary in Stephanie Taylor's apartment while her two young children were with a babysitter - they went back to Jones's residence to speak with him again. Jones's mother was not home, so police called her at work, and she gave them permission to talk to Jones.

         During the second interview, Jones initially denied involvement in the Taylor armed robbery and burglary, but the interviewing detective pressed him because she believed he was lying based on allegations from other witnesses. Jones again admitted involvement in the Davis burglary, but remained evasive about other burglaries in the area. The interview escalated, and the detective became audibly frustrated, lecturing Jones:

Let me explain something to you, ok? You've already dug yourself a hole. . . So when I go to the judge Tuesday, I'm going tell him how you lied, and how you don't want to help yourself out because you keep lying. You understand? Did I not tell you that if I found something out, I was going to come back and charge you? What happened? . . . . [D]o you want to be charged with the other [burglaries in the complex]? . . . What do you think you need to be doing right now?
Jones: I need to be talking.
Detective: Ok. And doing what else?
Jones: And telling the truth.
Detective: Then why didn't you do it the first time I ...

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