Haas v. State

In Haas v. State (Alaska Ct. App. 1995) 897 P.2d 1333, the defendant was interviewed at a police station about a shooting at the Mush Inn that killed three people. (Id. at pp. 1333-1334.) The defendant initially admitted being at the scene but denied any involvement in the shooting. (Id. at p. 1334.) "However, as the interview progressed, the defendant stated that he strongly disliked the people at the Mush Inn because they were drug dealers. He said that he disliked the individuals because they had gotten his girlfriend 'doped up.' He began talking with the police officer about what might happen, hypothetically, if he admitted to being involved in the shootings. He indicated his belief that 'a guy would still go to jail for that.' The officer responded that he could not say that 'it would never happen' and that he was not in a position to make any promises. He told the defendant that it was in his interest to be truthful and to give his side of the story. In response to the defendant's question whether the officer was going to put him in jail 'today,' the officer assured him, 'I'm not going to arrest you today. That is not to say you won't be arrested.' The defendant then hypothetically suggested his involvement in the homicides and asked, 'Are you gonna take me to jail right now . . . arrest me?' The officer did not give him a direct answer." (Ibid.) The appellate court concluded the trial court "erred in determining that a reasonable person in the defendant's position would have felt free to leave" after the defendant "began to broadly hint that he was the one who had committed the homicides," "posed 'hypothetical' situations which strongly suggested his guilt," "asked the officer, "Are you gonna take me to jail right now . . . arrest me?'" and the officer ultimately "replied, 'I really don't know. I'd have to check . . . with my sergeant and with the district attorney.'" (Haas v. State, supra, 897 P.2d at p. 1336.)