Delao v. State

In Delao v. State, 235 S.W.3d 235 (Tex. Crim. App. 2007), Delao was asked to accompany two police officers to the station for questioning after he was identified as a suspect in a robbery. Delao was interviewed for approximately an hour. When Delao indicated that he was on medication, had difficulty reading, that he was a mental health/mental retardation (MH/MR) patient, and that he desired the attendance of his MH/MR counselor, the remainder of the interview was conducted in the presence of the counselor. Delao, 235 S.W.3d at 236-37. Delao commented at various times throughout the interview that he wished to terminate the questioning. Near the end of the interview, however, Delao confessed to the crime. Id. at 237. Delao's motion to suppress the confession on the basis that it was involuntary was denied. On appeal, the court analyzed the totality of the circumstances to determine the voluntariness of the confession, including Delao's diminished mental capacity, the coerciveness of the interrogation, and Delao's right to terminate the interview at will. After considering these factors, the court of appeals determined that despite Delao's diminished mental capacity, the totality of the circumstances failed to demonstrate that his confession was involuntary. Id. at 238. In affirming this decision, the high court recognized that the totality of the circumstances standard is sufficiently all-encompassing to take into account such factors as are common to those suffering from a mental deficiency, such as a lower level of education, experience, self-sufficiency, and reasoning abilities than the average person. However, the mentality of the accused is simply one factor to consider when evaluating the voluntariness of a confession. Id. at 239.