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Appeal from the District Court for Douglas County: GARY B. RANDALL, Judge.
Thomas C. Riley, Douglas County Public Defender, and Kelly M. Steenbock for appellant.
Jon Bruning, Attorney General, and George R. Love for appellee.
WRIGHT, CONNOLLY, STEPHAN, MCCORMACK, MILLER-LERMAN, and CASSEL, JJ. HEAVICAN, C.J., participating on briefs.
[287 Neb. 847] Wright, J.
I. NATURE OF CASE
Michael L. Juranek unsuccessfully moved to suppress his statements made to police during the investigation of the stabbing of Jimmy McBride. At his trial for first degree murder and use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony, the district court admitted evidence of the statements over Juranek's objections. Juranek now challenges the district court's decision not to suppress the statements and also raises sufficiency of the [287 Neb. 848] evidence as to his convictions for first degree murder and use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony. We find no error in the admission of two of Juranek's statements and harmless error in the admission of the third. Ultimately, we conclude that there was sufficient evidence to find Juranek guilty, and we affirm his convictions and sentences.
II. SCOPE OF REVIEW
In reviewing a motion to suppress a confession based on the claimed involuntariness of the statement, including claims that it was procured in violation of the safeguards established by the U.S. Supreme Court in Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966), an appellate court applies a two-part standard of review. With regard to historical facts, we review the trial court's findings for clear error. Whether those facts suffice to meet the constitutional standards, however, is a question of law, which we review independently of the trial court's determination. State v. Bormann, 279 Neb. 320, 777 N.W.2d 829 (2010).
When reviewing a criminal conviction for sufficiency of the evidence to sustain the conviction, the relevant question for an appellate court is whether, after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. In reviewing a criminal conviction, an appellate court does not resolve conflicts in the evidence, pass on the credibility of witnesses, or reweigh the evidence. State v. McGuire, 286 Neb. 494, 837 N.W.2d 767 (2013).
On September 14, 2011, Officer Brandon Braun of the Omaha Police Department responded to a 911 emergency dispatch service call concerning a " cutting" or stabbing. Upon arriving at the scene, Braun located " a male subject that [had] blood on his shirt." The subject, whom Braun recognized as McBride, mentioned the name " Mike" and pointed to a male about 100 feet away who was wearing a dark shirt and carrying a dark-colored bag. Because Braun was the only officer [287 Neb. 849] at the scene at that time, he relayed the description to other officers who could attempt to detain the suspect. McBride later died from his wound.
En route to the scene of the stabbing, Officer Aaron Andersen of the Omaha Police Department saw an individual matching the description relayed by Braun. The individual was later identified as Juranek. Andersen, whose police cruiser window was rolled down, pulled up to Juranek and yelled, " 'Hey.'" Andersen did not pull in front of Juranek or order him to stop. Juranek turned around, and Andersen observed that Juranek was " bleeding from [one of] his eye[s]." Without exiting the cruiser, Andersen asked Juranek whet had happened to his eye. Juranek responded, " He threatened me so I stuck him." At that point, Andersen exited the cruiser, handcuffed Juranek, and placed him in the cruiser.
While Andersen drove Juranek to the scene of the stabbing, Andersen heard Juranek " making several statements to himself." Specifically, Andersen heard Juranek say that " he stuck him once," " he wanted to stick him again," and " he wanted to kill him." Andersen had not asked any questions of Juranek or engaged him in conversation.
After informing the officers at the scene of the stabbing that he had detained Juranek, Andersen drove Juranek to the police station and took him to an interview room. Shortly thereafter, a detective with the Omaha Police Department began to interview Juranek. The video recording from the interview shows that the detective started the interview by attempting to shake Juranek's hand, which Juranek declined because his hands were " dirty." The following dialog then took place:
Detective: Okay, sir. I'm, uh, was speaking with the officer that brought you down here and he shared some information, so--
Juranek: I told it to him 14 times.
Detective: Ok. Do you want to tell it to me?
Juranek: The asshole's name was Jimmy McBride. He threatened to kill me. I took a knife, and I stuck him. I would have stuck him again, but he ran away. And after that I don't know what happened. He hand--, I was a [287 Neb. 850] block away and he handcuffed me and wanted to know where the knife was. I don't even, after I stabbed that piece of shit, I don't remember anything. I'm guilty.
Detective: [after about 10 seconds of silence] Um. I want to read you these six statements here with yes or no questions, okay?
The detective then read Juranek the Miranda warnings. After Juranek waived his Miranda rights, the detective thoroughly interviewed Juranek about McBride and the stabbing.
Juranek was charged by complaint with first degree murder and use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony. The county court determined there was probable cause for the complaint and bound Juranek over to the district court. In district court, Juranek was charged by information with the same crimes. He entered pleas of not guilty to both counts.
Before trial, Juranek moved to suppress " any and all statements" that he made to the police officers. He argued that the statements were obtained contrary to the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and article I, § § 7 and 12, of the Nebraska Constitution, because the statements were (1) the fruit of an unlawful detention and arrest; (2) neither freely and voluntarily given nor knowingly, understandingly, and intelligently made; (3) made before he was informed of his rights; (4) made without a knowing, understanding, and intelligent waiver of his rights; (5) the result of questions that " the police should have known were reasonably likely to elicit an incriminatory response" ; and (6) made after he " unequivocally invoked his right to cut off questioning."
The district court overruled Juranek's motion to suppress. The court made no specific findings in relation to Juranek's statements before he was detained and while he was in the police cruiser. The court briefly explained that the detective's question at the start of Juranek's interview was " not intended to elicit a confession but rather to determine whether [Juranek] was in fact willing to talk," citing to Oregon v. Elstad, 470 U.S. 298, 105 S.Ct. 1285, 84 L.Ed.2d 222 (1985).
At a bench trial, the State adduced evidence of the statements challenged in Juranek's motion to suppress. The court overruled Juranek's objections and received the evidence. In [287 Neb. 851] testifying to Juranek's statements during the interrogation, the detective stated that he did not read the Miranda warnings prior to asking whether Juranek would tell him what had happened, because the question was not intended to elicit a substantive response. When asked why he conducted the interview in the manner that he did, the detective explained, " I was concerned that [Juranek] wasn't wanting to speak with me at all. Therefore, I asked the question. My intent was to see if I was going to be wasting my time trying to talk to him if he did not want to speak with me at all." The detective said that he did not read Juranek the Miranda warnings at the outset of the interview because the detective was trying to " build a rapport."
The entire video recording of Juranek's interrogation was received into evidence over his objection. The video recording showed that after waiving his Miranda rights, Juranek confessed multiple times to seeking out McBride with the explicit purpose of killing him and to stabbing ...