Incriminating statements made by an Akron man accused of shooting and killing a University of Akron student during a pizza shop robbery will be permitted in his trial, despite detectives not reading him his Miranda rights.
Summit County Common Pleas Judge Alison McCarty recently ruled that Shaquille Anderson’s statements are admissible because he wasn’t in custody when detectives questioned him in prison in February 2017.
McCarty said detectives told Anderson he didn’t have to speak on certain subjects and were “calm and friendly” while questioning him. She said the door to the room where Anderson was interrogated was closed only after he said he had no objection and he wasn’t handcuffed or shackled.
“All of these objective facts are consistent with an interrogation environment in which a reasonable person would have felt free to terminate the interview and leave,” said McCarty, who pointed to a U.S. Supreme Court decision that supports her conclusion.
Anderson, 24, is accused of shooting and killing Zakareia “Zak” Husein, 21, during a Dec. 7, 2015, robbery at Husein’s family business, Premium New York Style Pizza, 380 E. Glenwood Ave.
Akron police, with help from the FBI, identified Anderson as a suspect, Anderson was already in prison for several robberies committed after Husein’s death. He is currently serving 20 years and has been incarcerated since January 2017.
Anderson was charged with aggravated murder, murder, aggravated robbery and having weapons while under disability for Husein’s death in July 2017. The charges include gun and violent offender specifications, which carry with them additional prison time. He faces life in prison.
Brian Pierce and Andrea Whitaker, Anderson’s attorneys, sought to suppress the statements he made in interviews in February and March 2017 because detectives didn’t read Anderson his Miranda rights when they first questioned him. His statements are a key piece of evidence in the case.
Pierce and Whitaker argued that Anderson was in custody when he was interrogated because he was summoned to the interview room and was never advised he was free to decline to speak or to return to his cell.
“Since there is no dispute that Mr. Anderson was not advised of his rights under Miranda during his first interrogation, any statement made by Mr. Anderson must be suppressed,” the attorneys wrote in a brief.
The attorneys argued the detectives violated Anderson’s Fifth, Sixth and 14th Amendment rights by failing to read him his Miranda rights, which include the right to remain silent and to have an attorney present.
Assistant Prosecutor Jonathan Baumoel, however, countered in a brief that Anderson wasn’t in custody when he was questioned by Detectives Tanisha Stewart and John Bell because the detectives weren’t armed, Anderson wasn’t restrained and Anderson wasn’t told he couldn’t leave. He said the interview was “non-confrontational, low-key, without any yelling or screaming,” with Stewart even asking Anderson if she could hug him at the end of the interrogation and him accepting.
Because Anderson wasn’t in custody, Baumoel said, detectives weren’t required to read his Miranda rights. He said Anderson told the detectives he was the masked robber at the pizza shop and accidentally shot Husein.
Baumoel said detectives read Anderson his Miranda rights during another interview on March 23, 2017, and Anderson made more incriminating statements.
“The defendant repeated that his motivation for talking was his desire to tell the truth and clear his conscience regarding Zakareia Husein’s death,” Baumoel said.
McCarty had hearings on the motion, listened to Anderson’s interviews and considered briefs filed by the attorneys. She ultimately sided with prosecutors in a ruling in late February, finding that Anderson’s statements were voluntarily given.
Anderson is next due in court for a pretrial April 24. His trial date hasn’t yet been scheduled.
Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705, firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter:@swarsmithabj.