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United States v. Walker

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

August 1, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
MICHAEL WALKER, Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS STATEMENTS MADE IN TELEPHONE CONVERSATIONS WITH JULIE PLOTZ

          Susan Oki Mollway United States District Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION.

         Defendant Michael Walker is charged with murdering or aiding and abetting in the murder of his wife and with conspiring to murder her. Before the court is a motion to suppress statements made to his wife's sister, Julie Plotz. The motion asserts that the statements implicate the Fifth Amendment and Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 444 (1966), as well as the Sixth Amendment right to counsel. See Walker's Memorandum in Support of Motion to Suppress, ECF No. 148-1, PageID #s 835-38.

         Walker made the statements in telephone conversations with Plotz on March 13, 2015, and April 25, 2015. The conversations were recorded. See Id. Walker notes that, before those telephone conversations, he had invoked his right to counsel, and that Plotz was acting as a Government agent in eliciting statements from him without counsel present, in violation of the Fifth Amendment. See id., PageID #s 835-36.

         Walker also contends that his Sixth Amendment right to counsel had already attached at the time Plotz elicited those statements.

         This court concludes that Walker's right to counsel under Miranda and the Fifth and Sixth Amendments was not violated. The motion to suppress statements is denied.

         II. FINDINGS OF FACT.

         The court makes the following findings of fact based on a preponderance of the evidence. The evidence was presented in court filings; no live testimony was received in connection with this motion. The findings are identified by letters of the alphabet for ease of reference in future proceedings.

         A. On November 15, 2014, Walker returned home after working a night shift as an Army medic at Tripler Army Memorial Hospital to find his wife, Catherine Walker, stabbed to death at their home in a military housing complex on Oahu. He called 911.

         B. Agents from the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division reported to the house. Agent Ian Mitchell spoke with Walker, then asked Walker to come with him to the station to answer further questions.

         C. At the station, about mid-way through the questioning, Agent Mitchell presented Walker with a Statement of Rights and Waiver form. Agent Mitchell reviewed Walker's rights under the Fifth Amendment and Miranda with him. At some point on November 15, 2014, after Walker had been read his Miranda rights, Walker invoked his right to remain silent and his right to counsel. Walker was not arrested or charged with anything at the time.

         D. In the months that followed, law enforcement contacted Walker's counsel on several occasions about matters pertaining to the investigation into his wife's death.

         E. Law enforcement also contacted Plotz, Catherine Walker's younger sister, who was one of the last people to speak with Mrs. Walker before she died. After her sister's death, Plotz, who lived in Arizona, spoke with Walker both in person and over the telephone.

         F. At Mrs. Walker's funeral in New York in late November 2014, Plotz spoke to Walker about her sister's death, noting the fact that there were no signs of a forced entry into the house and that the weapon used appeared to have been a kitchen knife from the house. According to Plotz, Walker told her that they ...


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