REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR DISPOSITION OF MOTION TO SUPPRESS STATEMENTS
MARK A. MORENO, Magistrate Judge.
Martin Rezac is charged with making (1) telephonic bomb threats to South Dakota Veteran's Administration (VA) facilities and (2) false statements relating to explosives in his home. Two FBI agents interviewed him while he was hospitalized and he made statements to the agents which he now seeks to suppress. Because the statements were lawfully obtained, the Court recommends that Rezac's suppression motion be denied.
On November 27, 2015, FBI Agents Bradley Murkins and Gina Palokangas interviewed Rezac at the Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota. Rezac had been admitted to the hospital the day before after being injured in his home while making flash paper for magic shows. When they arrived, the agents asked, and were given permission to speak with Rezac. The agents already knew about the explosion and that he had been injured and was on medication.
Once in the room, the agents introduced themselves to Rezac, who was awake and lying in bed. Agent Murkins then orally advised Rezac of his Miranda rights and asked if he would be willing to talk to the agents without a lawyer present. Rezac responded, "Yeah, to a certain extent and continued on saying something to the effect that, "With all that's happening and until I feel uncomfortable." As Rezac was making these last remarks, Agent Murkins announced that the time was 6:18 p.m. After that, the agent began questioning Rezac about a number of matters.
During the interview, Rezac spoke extensively about the chemicals he used to make explosive devices and where he got the information to do so. He admitted that he tried to make hexamethylene triperoxide (HMTD) and said that he planned to use the explosive to shoot rockets into the air. He denied though having additional explosives in his home or anything else that would be injurious to someone visiting it. He also denied making threats to the VA.
About half way into the interview, Rezac began coughing. Agent Murkins inquired if Rezac was alright and if he wanted something to drink. When Rezac said he needed to do his nebulizer, the agent asked if he wanted to stop for a while. Rezac replied, "No, I ain't planning on blowing nothing up or making nothing like that." The dialogue continued on from there for an additional 20 minutes. Ultimately, the interview ended at 6:59 p.m. and the agents went on their way.
Several months later, Rezac was indicted and charged with two counts of making a threatening communication by telephone and one count of making false statements. He thereafter moved to suppress his statements, claiming that they were elicited in violation of Miranda
The Government filed a response to the motion, resisting Rezac's claims. An evidentiary hearing was held on May 11, 2017, at which one witness testified and five exhibits were received into evidence. Rezac is scheduled to stand trial on all three charges this summer.
Rezac claims that the waiver of his Miranda rights was invalid and that the statements he gave to Agents Murkins and Palokangas were involuntary under the Fifth Amendment. He seeks to exclude his statements, presumably as both substantive and impeachment evidence.
The Miranda waiver inquiry has "two distinct dimensions": the waiver must (1) have been voluntary in the sense that it was the product of a free and deliberate choice rather than "intimidation, coercion, or deception" and (2) be made "with a full awareness of both the nature of the right being abandoned and the consequences of the decision to abandon it."
The recording irrefutably shows that Rezac waived his Miranda rights. There is no basis to conclude that he did not understand his rights. It therefore follows that he chose not to invoke or rely on them when he spoke to the agents.
First, credible evidence proves that Rezac was mindful of his rights and knew what he was doing.
Second, Rezac's oral waiver is a telling manifestation that he understood his rights and was disposed — at the time — to giving them up. And his willingness to engage in a lengthy colloquy without the benefit of a lawyer and make statements — many of which were incriminating — was a "course of conduct indicating waiver" of his rights.
Third, there is no evidence, worthy of belief, that Rezac's statements were coerced.
Rezac contends that "being hospitalized for injuries" and "under the influence of pain medication" made his waiver invalid. But he never asked to stop the interview or provided any sign that he was too languid to go on. Nor did he establish that the medications he was on caused his will to be overborne.
Rezac cites to Mincey v. Arizona
The fact that there was no signature "confirming" Rezac's waiver does not matter. A waiver may be express or implied and need not be verified with a signature.
In the final analysis, this is not one of those isolated cases in which a suspect, after being properly advised of his Miranda rights, failed to make an open and autonomous decision to speak with probing agents and incriminate himself. There is nothing in the record that demonstrates Rezac was incapable of waiving his rights because he was in severe pain or under the influence of medications being administered to him. Nor did he say or do anything that conveyed an inability on his part, to comprehend and appreciate his rights and the implications of what he was doing. Instead, the recording establishes that he was quite cognizant of his situation and willing to converse with the agents. His statements were made with a full awareness of his rights and after he knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently waived them.
"Cases in which a defendant can make a colorable argument that a self-incriminating statement was `compelled' despite the fact that law enforcement authorities adhered to the dictates of Miranda are rare."
The Court has already concluded that Rezac voluntarily waived his Miranda rights. The record as a whole likewise shows that the statements he gave to the agents were voluntary within the meaning of the Fifth Amendment's Due Process Clause. They were not extracted by threats, violence or express or implied promises that overwhelmed his will and acutely disabled his capacity to resist the urge to confess.
Rezac was properly advised of his Miranda rights, waived these rights without invoking any of them, and made voluntary statements to Agents Murkins and Palokangas, who together took no action that could be considered coercive or overstepping their bounds. His motion — which seeks `to suppress the statements on Miranda and voluntariness grounds — is thus without merit and provides him with no basis for relief.
Accordingly, it is hereby
RECOMMENDED that Rezac's Motion to Suppress Statements
The parties have 14 calendar days after service of this report and recommendation to file their objections to the same.