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State v. Strozier

Supreme Court of South Dakota

July 10, 2013

STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA, Plaintiff and Appellee,
v.
VIND MICHAEL STROZIER, Defendant and Appellant.

CONSIDERED ON BRIEFS ON MAY 20, 2013

APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SECOND JUDICIAL CIRCUIT MINNEHAHA COUNTY, SOUTH DAKOTA, THE HONORABLE ROBIN J. HOUWMAN Judge

MARTY J. JACKLEY Attorney General BETHANY L. ERICKSON Assistant Attorney General Pierre, South Dakota Attorneys for plaintiff and appellee.

MOLLY C. QUINN of Minnehaha County Public Defender's Office Sioux Falls, South Dakota Attorneys for defendant and appellant.

ZINTER, Justice

[¶1.] Vind Strozier was convicted of murder in the second degree and aggravated assault after stabbing two men during an altercation. Prior to trial, he moved to suppress his statements made during a custodial interrogation. The circuit court denied the motion. Strozier appeals the denial of the motion and his convictions. We affirm.

Facts and Procedural History

[¶2.] On August 13, 2011, Strozier was living in a motel in Sioux Falls. At approximately 7:30 p.m., he returned to the motel after work. After consuming alcoholic beverages, he joined two friends at a different motel. Later, while the three men were walking back to Strozier's motel, Strozier stopped at a gas station and then proceeded to rejoin his friends at his motel.

[¶3.] As Strozier approached his motel, he noticed that his friends were arguing with a group of seven people who he did not know. An altercation ensued between Strozier and two men in the group, later identified as Rodney Iron Hawk and Cory Thornton. Strozier was knocked to the ground, he got up, and he went to his motel room.

[¶4.] Strozier then returned to the scene of the altercation, where his two friends were still arguing with the group. Strozier had an opened knife and "swiped" at the men, fatally stabbing Iron Hawk. Thornton was cut on his arm.

[¶5.] Police officers arrived at the scene. Strozier was arrested, read his Miranda rights, placed in the back of a patrol car, and taken to the law enforcement center. Upon arriving at the center, two of the officers noted that Strozier was emotional, upset, stressed, and he had urinated on himself. The officers further observed two bumps on his forehead and abrasions on his face, back, and shoulder. Strozier requested medical attention and was transported to a hospital.

[¶6.] Shortly after midnight, a blood test at the hospital indicated that his blood-alcohol level was 0.214 percent. A physician diagnosed a non-serious closed-head injury, [1] facial contusions, and abrasions. Strozier was given one dose of pain medication and was taken back to the law enforcement center.

[¶7.] At 1:30 a.m., Strozier was placed in an interrogation room. While waiting to be interviewed, he made several comments about pain from his head injury. At approximately 2:50 a.m., Detective Carda entered the room to begin the interrogation. Carda re-advised Strozier of his Miranda rights.[2] Strozier replied that he understood his rights and waived them.[3]

[¶8.] During a two-hour interrogation, Strozier maintained a fairly consistent account of the incident, claiming that he acted in self-defense. He claimed that he had been beaten during the initial altercation.[4] He stated that he then went to his motel room and returned to the scene with an opened knife "in order to protect himself."[5] He acknowledged that he should not have returned. After Carda informed Strozier that Iron Hawk had died from his injuries, Strozier insisted that he had never meant to kill him. In the final minutes of the interrogation, Strozier asserted that he was not trying ...


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