Nathaniel Showalter, by counsel Ward Morgan, appeals the June
12, 2015, order of the Circuit Court of Mercer County denying
petitioner's motion to suppress his confession to the
police first-degree robbery. Respondent State of West
Virginia, by counsel Zachary Aaron Viglianco, filed a
response in support of the circuit court's order.
Petitioner filed a reply. On appeal, petitioner alleges that
the circuit court erred in denying his motion to suppress his
Court has considered the parties' briefs and the record
on appeal. The facts and legal arguments are adequately
presented, and the decisional process would not be
significantly aided by oral argument. Upon consideration of
the standard of review, the briefs, and the record presented,
the Court finds no substantial question of law and no
prejudicial error. For these reasons, a memorandum decision
is appropriate under Rule 21 of the Rules of Appellate
of 2014, petitioner was arrested for possession of a
controlled substance with intent to deliver. The magistrate
court set petitioner's bond in the amount of $10,
000.00. Unable to post bond, petitioner was remanded to
the Southern Regional Jail. While being held on only the
possession charge, Detective Adams of the Bluefield Police
Department interviewed petitioner regarding an unrelated bank
robbery. Prior to the interview, Det. Adams thoroughly
explained petitioner's rights to him pursuant to
Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16
L.E.2d 694 (1966). Subsequently, petitioner signed a
Miranda rights waiver form prior to giving a
recorded statement to Det. Adams wherein he confessed to the
bank robbery of First Community Bank.
February of 2015, a Mercer County grand jury indicted
petitioner on one count of first-degree robbery and the
unrelated count of delivery of a controlled substance.
filed a motion to suppress his statement regarding the bank
robbery to Det. Adams. On June 11, 2015, the circuit court
held a hearing on the motion to suppress. Det. Adams'
testimony revealed that he Mirandized petitioner and that
petitioner signed a Miranda rights waiver form prior
to giving his statement; that Det. Adams advised petitioner
that he did not have to speak to him; and that
petitioner's statement corroborated facts of the robbery,
including his description of the pellet gun used during the
commission of the offense, the black clothing worn, and the
direction in which he fled following the crime. On
cross-examination, Det. Adams admitted that petitioner did
not, at the time of the confession, have an attorney
appointed to represent him on the robbery charge, but that
petitioner was instructed prior to the interview that he
could speak to an attorney. Det. Adams also acknowledged that
despite the fact that the DNA test results had yet to be
completed, certain DNA evidence linked petitioner to the
robbery. Thereafter, petitioner testified that while he
confessed to the robbery, his confession was coached, that
Det. Adams promised to get his drug charge dismissed, that he
would be placed in the Anthony Center following sentencing,
and threatened to "jail" everyone in
petitioner's grandmother's home. After considering
the testimony, the circuit court denied petitioner's
motion to suppress his confession finding that he was
properly Mirandized prior to giving his confession to Det.
Adams, and "that the confession was voluntary and not
the product of duress or coercion by law enforcement."
The circuit court further found petitioner's testimony
regarding Det. Adams' alleged promise to get
petitioner's drug charge dismissed or to have him placed
at the Anthony Center to be "incredible." The
circuit court also appropriately considered and rejected
petitioner's stance that his low intelligence affected
his ability to provide a voluntary statement.
a two-day jury trial, petitioner was convicted of one count
of first-degree robbery. Subsequently, the circuit court
sentenced petitioner to a term of incarceration of sixty
years. Petitioner filed a Motion for Reduction of Sentence
pursuant to Rule 35(b) of the West Virginia Rules of Criminal
Procedure arguing that he should receive an alternative
sentence. Ultimately, the circuit court denied
petitioner's motion by order entered on December 29,
2015. This appeal followed.
appeal, petitioner argues that the circuit court erred in
denying his motion to suppress his statement to Det. Adams
because it was obtained through the use of threats and
implied promises of leniency as noted during his testimony at
Court has held as follows:
"When reviewing a ruling on a motion to suppress, an
appellate court should construe all facts in the light most
favorable to the State, as it was the prevailing party below.
Because of the highly fact-specific nature of a motion to
suppress, particular deference is given to the findings of
the circuit court because it had the opportunity to observe
the witnesses and to hear testimony on the issues. Therefore,
the circuit court's factual findings are reviewed for
Syllabus point 1, State v. Lacy, 196 W.Va. 104, 468
S.E.2d 719 (1996).
Syl. Pt. 13, State v. White, 228 W.Va. 530, 722
S.E.2d 566 (2011). Moreover,
[b]y employing a two-tier standard, we first review a circuit
court's findings of fact when ruling on a motion to
suppress evidence under the clearly erroneous standard.
Second, we review de novo questions of law and the
circuit court's ultimate conclusion as to the
constitutionality of the law enforcement action. Under the
clearly erroneous standard, a circuit court's decision
ordinarily will be affirmed unless it is unsupported by
substantial evidence; based on an erroneous interpretation of
applicable law; or, in light of the entire record, this Court
is left with a firm and definite conviction that a mistake
has been made. See State v. Stuart, 192 W.Va. 428,
452 S.E.2d 886, 891 (1994). When we review the denial of a
motion to suppress, we consider the evidence in the light
most favorable to the prosecution.
State v. Lilly, 194 W.Va. 595, 600, 461 S.E.2d 101,
106 (1995). Upon consideration of the above standard of
review, this Court finds no error in the circuit court's
denial of petitioner's motion to suppress his statement.
Petitioner voluntarily spoke with Det. Adams, and his
confession was not ...