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PEOPLE STATE NEW YORK v. JANET ELURA PAULIN (04/22/68)

COUNTY COURT OF NEW YORK, SARATOGA COUNTY 1968.NY.41337 <http://www.versuslaw.com>; 305 N.Y.S.2d 607; 61 Misc. 2d 289 April 22, 1968 THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, PLAINTIFF,v.JANET ELURA PAULIN, DEFENDANT E. Stewart Jones, Thomas J. O'Connor and James Straney for defendant. James A. O'Connor, District Attorney, for plaintiff. Edward T. Sullivan, J. Author: Sullivan


Edward T. Sullivan, J.

Author: Sullivan

 Hearing held March 18 and March 19, 1968 on two pretrial motions to suppress evidence in the above action wherein the defendant is being prosecuted on a charge of murder in the second degree, section 1046 of the former Penal Law, under Indictment No. 1609-67 of the Grand Jury of Saratoga County, September 1967 Term of the Supreme Court. After arraignment and a subsequent bail application wherein same was fixed and defendant released thereon, the case was transferred by the Supreme Court to Saratoga County Court.

By stipulation, to avoid repetition of the same testimony, one hearing was held for both motions; and the hearing proceeded initially on the motion for suppression of an alleged oral admission and an alleged oral confession under section 813-g of the Code of Criminal Procedure, and then proceeded on the motion for suppression of evidence alleged to have been obtained as a result of unlawful search and seizure under section 813-c of the Code of Criminal Procedure and by consent, the hearing was held with all witnesses, except the witness actually testifying and the defendant, remaining outside the closed hearing room.

Defendant was arraigned on June 12, 1967 on an information charging murder in the first degree under section 1044 of the former Penal Law before Malta Town Justice, Morgan E. Bloodgood; entered a plea of "not guilty"; and requested a preliminary hearing. On August 17, 1967 a preliminary hearing under section 190 et seq. of the Code of Criminal Procedure was held before the same justice, who found that the crime of murder in the first degree had been committed, that there was reasonable ground to believe the defendant guilty thereof, and ordered that she be held to answer for the same. A photocopy of the transcript of the preliminary hearing was made a part of the motion for the suppression of the alleged oral admission and oral confession.

Defendant brings her initial motion upon the ground that her alleged statements, confession and/or admission, either inculpatory or exculpatory, either oral or written, were and are inadmissible as evidence against her in that they were obtained from her during impermissive pre-arraignment, in-custodial interrogation by the New York State Police in violation of her constitutional guarantees under the Fifth, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution as proclaimed and fixed as guidelines for State law enforcement officials and State trial courts by the United States Supreme Court on June 13, 1966 in (1) Miranda v. Arizona, (2) Vignera v. New York, (3) Westover v. United States and (4) California v. Stewart (384 U.S. 436), all of which are herein called the Miranda case.

The companion motion for suppression of tangible property, including a metal cooking pot and a knife, is based on the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution guaranteeing that the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and guaranteeing the condition of issuance of warrants.

PART I

The facts established by the preliminary hearing and the admissibility hearing are as follows:

Shortly before 10:00 a.m. on Monday, June 12, 1967, defendant's son, Michael Okon, reported via telephone to the New York State Police his discovery of the dead body of his stepfather, Joseph Paulin, a New York State Police Sergeant, in the family residence, 18 Barcelona Drive, Clifton Knolls, Town of Clifton Park, Saratoga County, N.Y. Uniformed Lieutenant Raymond J. Kuzia, pursuant to radio dispatch, telephoned Acting Troop Commander, Captain James Smith, at Troop Headquarters, Loudonville, N.Y., who advised him of the report and instructed him to proceed to Sgt. Paulin's house. Lt. Kuzia arrived at about 10:00 a.m. and was led by the stepson to the guest room clothes closet, wherein he saw the dead body which was later identified as that of the victim.

Lt. Kuzia was asked:

"Q. What did you do then? "A. Well, as I say, I dropped the covering back over the body. I asked Michael if he knew anything about this and as I recall he said no but it must have happened Friday, as".

Significantly, Michael Okon was not questioned again and the record establishes that he was not subjected to any form of detention. Further, the record establishes that it is State Police policy, practice and instruction to handle every death as a homicide.

Lt. Kuzia then reported via the basement telephone his finding to Captain Smith and requested assistance. He returned upstairs to the living room area and, for the first time that day, saw the defendant. He testified she was barefooted, wearing a blue housecoat and was coming from the direction of the master bedroom. She asked him who he was and what he was doing there. Lt. Kuzia identified himself and told her he "was there to see about Joe".

At this point in the chronology of events, there is a variance in the testimony of the two key witnesses for the People. At both the preliminary hearing and the suppression hearing, Captain Chieco testified that upon his arrival at about 11:15-11:30 a.m., Lt. Kuzia, in briefing him on events up to that time, told him that when the Lieutenant first saw the defendant, that she mentioned something about having a terrible fight, that he observed a cut on her left hand, and that believing she might possibly be a suspect, he immediately advised her of her rights under the Miranda case.

According to Lt. Kuzia's testimony, he began questioning the defendant about 10:20 a.m. concerning what happened to her husband and continued this interrogation for about 20 minutes before he gave her the constitutional warnings to which she was entitled under the Miranda case. With reference to the homicide, of which he said he believed her to be a suspect, and obviously the only suspect at that time, he asked her 10 or 12 times what had happened. Defendant did not answer his questions. Later, during the hearing, defendant testified that she knew she was being accused of killing her husband, that she knew she was being detained, that she knew she was being held for killing her husband, and that she requested the presence of her lawyer because of this knowledge.

After the 10 or 12 questions with reference to the homicide, Lt. Kuzia asked her several times what was wrong with her hand and then she finally answered. This was followed by several questions as to how the hand injury happened and she ultimately ...


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