police chief asked whether he had raped and killed
a woman. When he
said that he had not, the chief called him a liar
and said, 'If you
do not tell the truth, I am going to kill you.'
The other officer
then fired his rifle next to the (suspect's) ear
and the (suspect)
Later the suspect was given an injection to ease the pain of his wound.
The Police Chief told him to sign the extradition papers which would send him
back to Alabama or he could be killed by a "gang of people" waiting for him.
After "signing" these papers, the suspect was returned to Alabama where he was
placed in a prison hospital. Five days after he returned to Alabama, his leg
was swollen and infected. He had a high fever and was given a morphine shot
every four hours to ease the pain. Alabama investigators came to the hospital
to interview him an hour after he had received a morphine injection. Prior to
this interview, a medical assistant told the suspect to cooperate with these
Also, this assistant told the investigators in the suspect's
presence to let him (the assistant) know if the suspect did not tell them what
they wanted to hear. After a 90 minute "conversation" with the suspect, the
investigators prepared two detailed written confessions consistent with his
admissions to authorities during the earlier "field interview."
signed both confessions while "(s)till in a 'kind of slumber' from his last
morphine injection, feverish, and in intense pain." The Alabama Supreme Court
ruled that the statement taken at gun point was coerced, but the two statements
taken at the hospital were voluntarily obtained and admissible at his trial.
The U.S. Supreme Court reversed the second holding when they found those
confessions involuntarily obtained as the "product of gross coercion."
b. The issue arose again in Mincey v. Arizona, 437 US 385, 57 L.Ed.2d 290
98 SCt 2408 (1978). The suspect had been shot and was questioned while he was
in the hospital. The confession was obtained in the following manner:
"Tubes were inserted into his throat to help him breathe, and
through his nose into his stomach; a catheter was inserted into his
bladder. He received various drugs, and a device was attached to
his arm so that he could be fed intravenously... At about eight
o'clock that evening (a police officer) came to the intensive care
unit to interrogate him. Mincey (the suspect) was unable to talk
because of the tube in his mouth, and so he responded to (the)
questions by writing answers on pieces of paper provided by the
Although the suspect "asked repeatedly that the interrogation stop
until he could get a lawyer," the police officer "continued to question him
until almost midnight." A nurse who was present "suggested it would be best if
(he) answered the police officer's questions."
The questioning stopped only
during brief periods when the suspect lost consciousness.
On appeal, the
Supreme Court reversed the conviction:
"It is hard to image a situation less conducive to the exercise of a
rational intellect and a free will... He complained... that the pain
in his leg was unbearable... he was lying on his back on a hospital