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State v. Blackburn

May 13, 2009

STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA, PLAINTIFF AND APPELLANT,
v.
TAD AARON BLACKBURN, DEFENDANT AND APPELLEE.



APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SEVENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT PENNINGTON COUNTY, SOUTH DAKOTA HONORABLE THOMAS L. TRIMBLE Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Meierhenry, Justice

ARGUED ON MARCH 25, 2009

[¶1.] Tad Blackburn is charged and awaiting trial for First Degree Murder, or in the alternative, Second Degree Murder in the death of his girlfriend, Tamara Magic. Prior to trial, Blackburn moved to suppress statements that he made to police during a police interrogation. The trial court granted his motion and suppressed portions of the interrogation. The trial court determined that Blackburn's statements to police were inadmissible because Blackburn's Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to counsel had been violated. The State sought permission to appeal the trial court's suppression order.

Police Questioning of Blackburn

[¶2.] The incident that gave rise to the murder charge against Blackburn occurred on November 8, 2007, in Rapid City, South Dakota. Late in the evening, the police and an ambulance responded to an emergency call to the home of Magic. There they found Magic dead with multiple stab wounds and head trauma. The police sought Blackburn as a suspect.

[¶3.] Blackburn was stopped by law enforcement driving Magic's vehicle at approximately 1:00 a.m. on November 9. The police officer who stopped Blackburn determined that Blackburn had been drinking and that Blackburn was wanted for questioning in Magic's murder. The officer transported Blackburn to the police station for questioning.

[¶4.] The police interviewed Blackburn twice. The first interview occurred at approximately 2:00 a.m. on November 9, and a second interview occurred more than thirty hours later at approximately 10:00 a.m. on November 10. During the first interview, Blackburn repeated that he was drunk, that he would not answer any questions until he was sober, and that he wanted a lawyer. Blackburn did not waive his Miranda rights during the first interview and made no admissions. The trial court determined that any statements made by Blackburn during the first interview were inadmissible for any purpose at trial.

Second Interview

[¶5.] The morning of November 10, Blackburn requested to see Investigator Matt Sargent. At the beginning of the second interview, Investigator Sargent read Blackburn his Miranda rights as follows:

Sargent: Alright. Before I ask, ask you any questions you must understand your rights. You have the continuing right to remain silent. Do you understand that?

Blackburn: Yes sir.

Sargent: Anything you say can be used as ev, used against you in court. Do you understand that?

Blackburn: Yes sir.

Sargent: You have the right to a lawyer for advice before we ask you any questions and to have a lawyer with you during questioning. Do you understand that?

Blackburn: Yes sir.

Sargent: If you cannot . . . afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you before any questioning if you wish. You understand that?

Blackburn: Ok.

Sargent: You understand that?

Blackburn: I understand that.

Sargent: Ok. If you decide to answer questions now without a lawyer present, you will still have the right to stop quest, stop answering at any time until you talk to a lawyer. You understand that?

Blackburn: ...


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