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State v. Medlock

April 29, 1997


Appeal from Superior Court of Spokane County. Docket No: 95-1-00368-1. Date filed: 07/19/95. Judge signing: Hon. James M. Murphy.

Petition for Review Denied October 7, 1997,

Authored by Philip J. Thompson. Concurring: John A. Schultheis, Frank L. Kurtz.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Thompson

THOMPSON, J. John Medlock appeals his conviction of first degree felony murder. He contends the court erred in denying his motion to suppress his statements to Canadian and Washington police officers because he was not properly advised of his rights. He also claims his statements that he took money from the victim should have been suppressed. He finally contends his motion to dismiss the information should have been granted. We affirm.

On October 18, 1993, Rebecca Hedman's body was found on the bank of the Spokane River. An autopsy revealed that the cause of death was a blunt impact injury to the head and/or strangulation.

On December 28, the Port Moody British Columbia Police Department received a call from Beverly Medlock that her son, John, was suicidal. Constable Jack Sarna with the Port Moody Police Department stopped Mr. Medlock around 9:30 p.m. He informed Mr. Medlock why he was stopped and asked him if he really wanted to kill himself. Mr. Medlock said he did. Constable Sarna asked Mr. Medlock why he wanted to kill himself, and Mr. Medlock stated because he had killed someone in Spokane.

Corporal Allan Dunn, Constable Michael Rae, and Constable Pamela Gagnier arrived at the scene and heard a comment about a murder. Constable Sarna started to ask another question, but Constable Rae interrupted and advised that Mr. Medlock be read his "Charter Rights." *fn1 Mr. Medlock understood his rights but did not want a lawyer. Constable Sarna then informed Mr. Medlock he was not required to say anything, and anything he did say would be used as evidence. Again Mr. Medlock stated he understood. Mr. Medlock was also given the opportunity to contact an American lawyer. Mr. Medlock understood but did not wish to contact a lawyer.

Mr. Medlock was detained under the Mental Health Act of British Columbia. He was also told he was being detained for a homicide investigation. Corporal Dunn asked Mr. Medlock if he would go to the police station for an interview before they took him to the hospital and he agreed. At the police station Corporal Dunn again asked Mr. Medlock if he understood his rights. He said he did. Mr. Medlock did not wish to contact a lawyer or anyone else. Mr. Medlock then confessed to killing Rebecca Hedman on October 17, by hitting her on the back of the head with a baseball bat. He said the murder occurred at the Ranch Motel, cabin number nine, in Spokane. He dumped the body by the Spokane River. He put the baseball bat in a storage locker.

Mr. Medlock was taken to a local hospital for evaluation. A doctor found him to be depressed and suicidal and detained him under the Mental Health Act.

Corporal Dunn then contacted the Spokane Police Department to inquire about whether there had been a murder. Detective Donald Giese of the Spokane Police Department confirmed that the murder had actually occurred. Detective Giese obtained a search warrant for the hotel and the storage locker. He seized a baseball bat from the locker and a piece of blood-stained carpet from the room.

On December 29, Detective Giese and Detective James Peterson went to Canada to interview Mr. Medlock. On December 30, the State charged Mr. Medlock with first degree murder. After Canada issued an extradition warrant, Detective Giese, Detective Peterson, and Corporal Kenneth Lylack of the Port Moody Police Department went to interview Mr. Medlock. Corporal Lylack introduced the Spokane detectives to Mr. Medlock and told him they were there to talk to him about the homicide. Mr. Medlock was read both his Charter Rights and Miranda warnings. No one told Mr. Medlock he had been charged with murder or that an extradition warrant had been issued. Mr. Medlock indicated he understood his rights, did not want a lawyer and agreed to speak with the officers. He then confessed to the murder. He also told the officers he paid the deceased $50 for oral and vaginal sex, but that he was not satisfied and wanted the money back. After he hit the decedent on the head, he removed the money from her sock.

The Canadian courts held a four-day hearing on Washington's request for extradition. Mr. Medlock was represented by Canadian counsel. He argued that the Port Moody officers had no reason to detain him under the Mental Health Act; thus, his confessions were invalid and he could not be extradited. He also argued his confession was not valid due to his emotional state and because he did not know that charges had been filed. The court found the detention was lawful and granted the request for extradition.

The State filed an amended information charging Mr. Medlock with first degree felony murder, with robbery as the felony, or in the alternative second degree felony murder, with assault as the felony. Mr. Medlock moved to suppress his confessions to both Canadian and American authorities. He also moved to dismiss the first degree felony murder charge on corpus delicti grounds. He finally moved to dismiss the information claiming it was inadequate. The court denied all his motions. Mr. Medlock went to trial and was convicted of first degree felony murder. He now appeals.

Mr. Medlock contends the court erred by denying his motion to suppress the statements he made to the Canadian law enforcement officers. Foreign police officers are not required to comply with the laws of the United States unless they are acting as agents of United States law enforcement officers, or at least "acting with the cooperation and assistance of state officers." State v. Johnson, 75 Wash. App. 692, 700, 879 P.2d 984 (1994), review denied, 126 Wash. 2d 1004 (1995). When Constable Sarna stopped Mr. Medlock he was investigating a report of a suicidal male. He had no knowledge of the Hedman murder in Spokane. Further, when Corporal Dunn questioned Mr. Medlock at the police station, he was doing so to assess Mr. Medlock's mental state. He, too, knew nothing about the Hedman murder. Although Corporal Dunn admitted his intent was to help the Spokane authorities if a murder had occurred, at the time the statements were made, there was no knowledge, cooperation, or assistance between the two agencies. Thus, the Canadian authorities were not required to comply with Washington law. ...

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