USA v. Kenneth Wynn
OPINION filed : the district court's judgment is AFFIRMED. Decision not for publication pursuant to local rule 206. Boyce F. Martin , Jr., Ronald Lee Gilman and Helene N. White (authoring), Circuit Judges.
NOT RECOMMENDED FOR FULL-TEXT PUBLICATION
File Name: 12a0990n.06
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT
DEBORAH S. HUNT, Clerk
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
KENNETH LEBRON WYNN,
Sep 07, 2012
ON APPEAL FROM THE UNITED
STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE
BEFORE: MARTIN, GILMAN, and WHITE, Circuit Judges.
HELENE N. WHITE, Circuit Judge. Kenneth Wynn was indicted for being a convicted
felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). Wynn appeals the district
court’s denial of his motion to suppress, arguing that his incriminating statements to a police officer
who allegedly asked Wynn to pray with him should be suppressed because the officer’s invitation
to pray constituted a custodial interrogation and Wynn had not been advised of his Miranda rights.
For the following reasons, we AFFIRM.
On September 6, 2008, Officer Zachariah Bevis of the Metropolitan Nashville Police
Department (MNPD) was dispatched to the Riverwood Apartments in response to reports of gun
shots having been fired. Bevis testified that, upon arriving on the scene, he saw a sergeant and
another officer facing an apartment door as Wynn was exiting the apartment. Bevis saw Wynn get
United States v. Wynn
down on the ground, apparently in response to verbal commands. The sergeant then asked Bevis to
take Wynn into custody. Bevis handcuffed Wynn and “handed him off” to Officer Roy Morris.
Morris took Wynn to his police car and placed him inside. Neither Bevis nor Morris advised
Wynn of his rights, and neither officer questioned him. Morris testified that as he began filling out
an arrest report, a car drove up behind him and a woman got out. Wynn told Morris that he wanted
to talk to the woman and asked Morris to lower the backseat window, which Morris did. The woman
would not speak with Wynn, and Morris noticed Wynn becoming increasingly agitated until he
eventually began to yell and cry. Morris pulled the car forward between 100 and 150 feet and
attempted to calm Wynn. Morris told Wynn that “it would all come out in the wash” and that “if he
would just chill, everything would be all right.” Morris testified that at some point, he “probably”
asked Wynn to pray with him.1
During this interaction, Wynn made incriminating statements to Morris, including that Wynn
had fired a couple of shots into the ground. Morris did not recall whether Wynn made those
statements before or after the praying occurred, if it did occur. Morris testified that if he did pray
When asked whether he at any point said to Wynn, “let’s pray,” Morris responded:
I may have . . . . I don’t remember the specifics. I’ve [sic] been two years since this
occurred. There have been a number of things happened since then. But I was
talking to fellow officers outside about religion. I’m a very religious person. So I
(Suppression Hearing Transcript (“Tr.”), PID 337.) Morris also testified that he has occasionally
prayed with subjects when he felt they would be receptive to it, but that he only does so if they
broach it on their own.
United States v. Wynn
with Wynn, his intention was merely to calm Wynn so that he could obtain the information needed
to fill out the arrest report.
Wynn was indicted on one count of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). Wynn moved to suppress evidence, including the statements he
made to Officer Morris. Following a hearing, the trial court denied the motion to suppress. Ruling
from the bench, the court concluded:
As to the Miranda warnings, the critical element, it’s got to be a custodial
interrogation. Based upon the facts stated, the Court finds that the defendant’s
response that is cited as incriminatory was not in response to questions by police
officers, but an emotional response to his girlfriend’s failure to respond to him in a
volatile domestic situation.
The Court finds, based on the proof, that Morris was performing an essentially a
ministerial task in transporting the defendant to the police station, and also to prepare
a written report to facilitate his transfer to the jail officials. On these circumstances,
the Court finds that there is no Miranda violation based upon United States v.
Murphy, 107 F.3d 1199 at Page 1204 (6th Cir. 1997).
(Tr., PID 358–59.) Wynn pleaded guilty but reserved his right to appeal the denial of his motion to
suppress. After being sentenced to 180 months in prison, Wynn timely appealed.
In reviewing a district court’s denial of a motion to suppress, this Court reviews legal
conclusions de novo and upholds factual findings unless they are clearly erroneous. United States
v. Urrieta, 520 F.3d 569, 573 (6th Cir. 2008). A factual finding is clearly erroneous when, “after
reviewing the entire evidence, we are left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has
been committed.” Id. When a district court denies a motion to suppress, “we consider the evidence
United States v. Wynn
in the light most favorable to the government.” United States v. Carter, 378 F.3d 584, 587 (6th Cir.
2004) (internal quotation marks omitted).
A suspect in police custody must be informed of his or her constitutional rights before he or
she may be interrogated. Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 444 (1966). “However, where a
defendant makes a voluntary statement without being questioned or pressured by an interrogator, the
statements are admissible despite the absence of Miranda warnings.” United States v. Murphy, 107
F.3d 1199, 1204 (6th Cir. 1997).
The district court found that Wynn’s incriminating statements were not made in response to
police questioning, but in response to his being ignored by his girlfriend. Wynn argues that this
factual finding is clearly erroneous because, based on the testimony presented at the suppression
hearing, it is not possible to determine whether Wynn made incriminating statements before or after
the point at which Morris prayed with Wynn.
Wynn assumes that the district court’s conclusion is based on a finding that the praying
occurred subsequent to the incriminating statements, and argues that such a finding is not supported
by the record. However, the district court made no finding one way or another as to whether Wynn’s
incriminating statements came before or after Morris attempted to calm Wynn and invited him to
pray, or even whether such prayer took place. The district court merely found that Wynn’s
statements were responsive to the woman outside the car and not to anything said or done by Morris.
Thus, even assuming that Morris asked Wynn to pray, and that the incriminating statements were
made after the prayer, those facts would not be sufficient to render clearly erroneous the district
United States v. Wynn
court’s finding that Wynn’s incriminating statements were a voluntary, emotional response to the
woman’s failure to respond to him, rather than a response to the prayer itself.
Accordingly, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the government, we
conclude that the district court did not commit clear error in finding that Wynn’s statements were
made in response to circumstances other than interrogation and therefore admissible despite the
absence of Miranda warnings.
For the foregoing reasons, we AFFIRM the judgment of the district court.
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