State v. Portillo, ___ N.C. App. ___, 787 S.E.2d 822 (Jun. 7, 2016)

(1) The defendant was not in custody when he gave statements to officers at the hospital. The victim was killed in a robbery perpetrated by the defendant and his accomplice. The defendant was shot during the incident and brought to the hospital. He sought to suppress statements made to police officers at the hospital, arguing that they were elicited during a custodial interrogation for which he had not been given his Miranda warnings. There was no evidence that the defendant knew a guard was present when the interview was conducted; the defendant was interrogated in an open area of the ICU where other patients, nurses, and doctors were situated and he had no legitimate reason to believe that he was in police custody; none of the officers who were guarding him spoke with him about the case prior to the interview; the detectives who did so wore plain clothes; and there was no evidence that the defendant’s movements were restricted by anything other than the injuries he had sustained and the medical equipment connected to him. Additionally, based on the evidence, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that the interrogation was custodial because he was under the influence of pain and other medication that could have affected his comprehension. It also rejected the defendant’s argument that he was in custody because the detectives arrived at the hospital with the intention of arresting him. Although they may have had this intention, it was not made known to the defendant and thus has no bearing on whether the interview was custodial. (2) Where there was no evidence that the defendant’s first statement, given in the hospital, was coerced, there was no support for his contention that his second statement was tainted by the first. (3) The court rejected the defendant’s argument that his inculpatory statements resulted from substantial violations of Chapter 15A requiring suppression.

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