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State v. Piatnitsky

Supreme Court of Washington, En Banc

May 8, 2014

The State of Washington, Respondent ,
v.
Samuel M. Piatnitsky, Petitioner

Argued June 25, 2013.

Reconsideration denied July 10, 2014.

Page 168

Appeal from King County Superior Court. 08-1-12940-0. Honorable Brian D. Gain.

Lila J. Silverstein (of Washington Appellate Project ), for petitioner.

Daniel T. Satterberg, Prosecuting Attorney, and Erin H. Becker, Deputy, for respondent.

AUTHOR: Justice Steven C. Gonzá lez. WE CONCUR: Chief Justice Barbara A. Madsen, Justice Charles W. Johnson, Justice Susan Owens, James M. Johnson, Justice Pro Tem. AUTHOR: Justice Charles K. Wiggins. WE CONCUR: Justice Mary E. Fairhurst, Justice Debra L. Stephens, Justice Sheryl Gordon McCloud.

OPINION

Page 169

[180 Wn.2d 408] Gonzá lez, J. --

¶ 1 We are asked today to decide whether Samuel Piatnitsky unequivocally invoked his right to remain silent when he told police investigating a murder that " I don't want to talk right now" but that he would " write it down." We find that this is, at best, an equivocal invocation of the right to remain silent, and thus, the trial judge did not err in admitting Piatnitsky's written confession. We affirm.

FACTS

¶ 2 In the early hours of October 19, 2008, Samuel Piatnitsky and his friend Jason Young were asked to leave a party. They refused. A fight broke out, and eventually Piatnitsky and Young left. But, approximately 30 minutes later, they returned with Piatnitsky brandishing a shotgun. Announcing his return to the partygoers, Piatnitsky exclaimed something to the effect of " 'what's up now,'" chambered [180 Wn.2d 409] a round, and fired a shot. Clerk's Papers at 3. Shawn Jones, the victim in the case, grabbed the shotgun and began wrestling with Piatnitsky. Young pulled Jones off Piatnitsky, who then fired three more shots, killing Jones and injuring another person.

¶ 3 King County Sheriff's deputies were dispatched to the scene around 3:30 in the morning. A K-9 unit followed a track from the crime scene to Young's house. Young came out when summoned by the officers; Piatnitsky was found hiding in the basement of the house. Officers Mirandized Piatnitsky, and he confessed to shooting Jones and another partygoer. [1] Witnesses brought to the scene of the arrest identified Piatnitsky as the shooter. He was taken into custody and booked.

¶ 4 Later that morning, Detectives Keller and Allen interviewed Piatnitsky about the shooting. After about an hour of questioning during which Piatnitsky indicated he was willing to give a taped confession, the detectives turned on a tape recorder. The relevant portion of the taped interview went as follows:

DET: Okay, and earlier you were advised of your Miranda rights. Do you remember that, your Constitutional rights by the officer, do you remember that?
SUS: Yeah; I have a right ...
DET: Did you understand those?
SUS: I have a right to remain silent.
DET: Right. I'm gonna go ahead and ...
SUS: That's the, that's the only one I remember.
DET: Okay. I'm gonna read 'em for you again.
SUS: That's the one I, I should be doing right now.
DET: Well, you know, like we told you, you don't have to talk to us. Okay. You've already admitted to this thing. We want to go on tape, and because it's an important part of this, and we talked about that, and that's the part [180 Wn.2d 410] when you go back to get the shotgun. Before we do any of that, I want to read you ...
SUS: What are you guys talking about, man?
DET: I want to read you your rights, okay. Do you understand that you have the right to remain silent?
DET2: You gotta answer out loud, SAM.
SUS: I'm not ready to do this, man.
DET2: You just told us that you wanted to get it in your own words on tape. You asked us to ...

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