Appeal tossed in Brimfield theft case

court ruling: Cops need not mirandize suspects 2 days in row

By Dave O'Brien | staff writer Published:

Police do not need to give Miranda warnings on two consecutive days when questioning a suspect, an Ohio appeals court recently ruled in the case of an Akron man convicted of 30 felony charges for a series of break-ins and thefts he committed in Brimfield in 2009.

Miranda warnings, which inform a criminal suspect of his or her rights to remain silent and be represented by an attorney, were not required to be read again to a suspect being questioned by Brimfield police on a second consecutive day in June 2009, according to a three-judge panel of Ohio's 11th District Court of Appeals.

Rather, the Miranda warnings given on the first day do not become "stale" when questioning or an interview by officers carries over into a second day, and retain their efficacy and effect, judges ruled.

The decision arose from an appeal filed by a convicted felon, Timothy J. Anders, who was interviewed by Brimfield Police Chief David Oliver on June 11 and June 12, 2009. Anders was a suspect in more than 200 break-ins and thefts that took place in Brimfield between January and June 2009, during which tools, sports equipment, electronics, medication, gift cards and other items were stolen from township residents.

Anders was identified as a suspect after he used a gift card stolen from a Brimfield woman at a Streetsboro business. Officers went to his Akron home and he agreed to talk to them, pointing out over the next two days locations in Brimfield where he committed break-ins and thefts, according to the appeals court. He was not yet under arrest and was free to halt questioning or leave at any time, judges ruled.

At the Brimfield police station on June 12, Anders signed a Miranda rights waiver form for June 11, but declined to sign one based on the events of June 12, telling Oliver "'You didn't read me my rights today and anything I told you isn't going to be admissible in court,'" according to the appeals court.

Anders was arrested, indicted and eventually pleaded guilty to 30 counts of breaking and entering and theft, all fifth-degree felonies. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison by Portage County Common Pleas Judge Laurie Pittman in April 2010, and ordered to pay approximately $13,777 in restitution to 14 victims of his spree.

Anders appealed his conviction in September 2011, claiming Pittman erred by failing to suppress his statements to police and abused her discretion in sentencing him to consecutive six-month prison terms on all 30 felony charges. He also claimed his trial attorney was ineffective.

Appellate judges disagreed, ruling Anders was "not under any particular emotional stress during the interviews, and was aware of his rights and the potential implications of (Oliver's) failure to advise him thereof," Judge Diane Grendell wrote. "When Mirandized on June 11, Anders acknowledged his familiarity with his rights as a result of his considerable criminal record. Anders' cooperation with police was voluntary and his interactions with police were relaxed, e.g. he was not restrained or formally arrested, and enjoyed several meals at the officers' expense."

Oliver even drove to Anders to a previously scheduled court appearance in Stark County on June 12 to ensure he didn't go on the run from police, according to the appeals court.

Anders' sentence "was proper in light of his criminal record and the cumulative magnitude of his crimes" and he was effectively represented by his attorney, judges ruled.

At his sentencing, Anders said he became a thief because he found it difficult to find a job, had neurological problems and a sister and nephew with medical problems, according to the appeals court. He also specifically broke into unoccupied homes or cars in order to avoid confrontations with their owners, caused no property damage, cooperated with the police and "showed genuine remorse," according to the appeals court.

Oliver said Friday he was glad judges upheld his department's handling of the case, which he said was massive and complicated, involving hundreds of victims.

"I have faith in our appeals system," he said.

Anders, now 45, is scheduled to be released from prison in May 2024, according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections.

Follow Dave O'Brien on Twitter at @RCCrimeWatch

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1128 or dobrien@recordpub.com

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  • I wonder if the taxpayer is paying the lawyer for this appeal.