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United States v. Silknitter

April 3, 2006

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
SHANNON M. SILKNITTER, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Sylvia H. Rambo

MEMORANDUM

Before the court is Defendant Shannon M. Silknitter's Motion to Suppress Statements Taken After Invocation of Fifth Amendment Right to Counsel (Doc. 57). The parties have briefed the issue and the court conducted a hearing on March 27, 2006; thus, the matter is ripe for disposition. For the reasons that follow, the court will grant the motion.

I. Background

The York Area Regional Police arrested Defendant on October 20, 2005, in connection with explosions and related events that occurred at private residences in York County, Pennsylvania between October 18-20, 2005.*fn1 At about 3:00 p.m. on October 20, 2005, the police questioned Defendant at the York Area Regional Police Headquarters. At the time of the questioning and arrest, Defendant had been eighteen for about three months. A portion of Defendant's conversation with Detective Hopple and Agent Culp was recorded on video.

After obtaining preliminary background information from the Defendant, at about 3:14 p.m. Detective Hopple indicated that when the police had previously advised Defendant of his rights Defendant had said that he understood them. Detective Hopple said he had subsequently been told that Defendant had asked about having an attorney present. Detective Hopple stated that he had asked Defendant prior to questioning whether he wanted to exercise his right to have an attorney present, but that Defendant had said that he would talk to Detective Hopple. Detective Hopple then indicated that he was going to advise Defendant of his rights again to make sure that Defendant understood the rights and to verify whether he wanted an attorney at that time. Defendant said, "Okay."

Detective Hopple then stated that the Defendant was a suspect, then reviewed the charges with him and gave Defendant his Miranda*fn2 warnings. Defendant indicated that he understood his rights. The following conversation occurred:*fn3

Detective Hopple: Earlier you had indicated that at some point you wanted to speak with an attorney, okay? Do you want to speak with an attorney prior to speaking with us here today?

Defendant: I will give you that information [garbled] but I don't want to get myself into a wall. So I will tell you what I know and what I seen.

Detective Hopple: I'm not sure that I'm following you. Defendant: Personally, me and Steve did not have a big part in this.

Detective Hopple: Well, hold on a second here. Let's back up. I don't want you to tell me, okay? I want to make sure that you understand your rights.

Defendant: Yes.

Detective Hopple: You do?

Defendant: Yes.

Detective Hopple: Now, the question is, you have indicated that you want to speak to an attorney at some point, but then you followed up by saying, no, you wanted to talk to me first. Is that correct?

Defendant: Maybe I should just be better if I waited for an attorney.

Detective Hopple: Do you want to speak with an attorney before ...


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