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United States of America v. Elga Eugene Harper
Case Number: 22-cr-170
Judge: John F. Heil, III
Court: United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma (Tulsa County)
Plaintiff's Attorney: United States Attorney’s Office in Tulsa
Description: Tulsa, Oklahoma criminal defense lawyer represented Defendant charged with
Defendant was arrested pursuant to a state arrest warrant on May 10, 2022. See Dkt. No. 63. Body camera footage from Defendant's arrest shows him sitting on the ground attempting to talk to Tulsa Police Department (“TPD”) officers before being placed in a squad car. Dkt. No. 531. As officers placed him in the squad car, one officer asked Defendant, “Do you want to talk to the detectives?” and Defendant immediately replied, “I mean, yes, sir, because honestly, I do business with that woman.” Id. He continued to make sporadic statements during the approximately ten-minute car ride from the site of his arrest to the TPD station, including statements about his prior acquaintance and business history with the alleged victim in the case, an alibi for the crime, his fear of getting “tricked off” from his preexisting probation, and various rhetorical questions about being confused with other men of his race. The officer driving told Defendant “I'm just a cab driver” and “I don't know what all” was involved. After Defendant said his sister had been trying to get ahold of him, the officer asked if the sister had told Defendant “what was going on” and he said yes. Defendant also referred to rape and robbery allegations during the car ride.
Once at the TPD station, officers placed Defendant in an interview room where Lt. Darin Ehrenrich (“Lt. Ehrenrich”) and Detective Dallas Owens (“Det. Owens”) joined him. Dkt. No. 53-2. They asked him a few questions about the amount of time he had lived in Tulsa, what brought him to Tulsa, and his family. Then the following exchange occurred:
Lt. Ehrenrich: Like we said, we got some things that we need to talk about.
Defendant: Yes, sir.
Lt. Ehrenrich: So let -- let us read you something first. Do you have a Miranda card or your Miranda waiver?
Det. Owens: No, I'm going to grab one.
Lt. Ehrenrich: Okay. We're going to grab something real quick.
Defendant: That's -- oh, boy, that's -
Lt. Ehrenrich: Hold on. I'll grab something and then -
Defendant: No, no, no. I understand. I think my biggest -
Lt. Ehrenrich: Hold on.
Defendant: Well, I think I can say this without having on -- on either side -- you know what I'm saying? -- hurting either side, from what they're - they are stating. This woman knows me.• Like, she really knows me. I've done business - . . . .
Lt. Ehrenrich: Okay. All right. Well, let us read you this real quick.
Lt. Ehrenrich: So, number one, you do have the right to remain silent. Okay? Anything you say may be used against you in court. You have the right to talk to a lawyer before we ask you any questions and have that lawyer with you during questioning. If you
cannot afford to hire a lawyer and want one, the court will appoint one for you before you are asked any questions. If you want to answer questions now without a lawyer present, you may do so. You have the right to stop answering questions at any time. Now, if you are a juvenile -- this one won't apply to you, because you are not a juvenile. But do you understand all of those rights that I've read?
Defendant: Yes, sir.
Lt. Ehrenrich: Okay. And, with that in mind, do you want to talk to us.
Defendant: Yes, sir.
Lt. Ehrenrich and Det. Owens presented a written Miranda waiver to Defendant, who initialed next to each right and signed the waiver at the bottom. The officers then interviewed Defendant for approximately an hour and a half.
Defendant filed a motion to suppress.
* * *
Defendant begins with his statements made while being transported to TPD and while at TPD but before being mirandized. Dkt. No. 47 at 4. He claims that “[i]f the Court found that any statements . . . were in response to interrogation then those statements would have to be suppressed and subsequent statements may also have to be suppressed.” Id. (emphasis added). Defendant does not actually assert that the statements were made in response to interrogation. Arguably, then, he has waived this argument by failing to demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that the Fifth Amendment was implicated in this exchange. For completeness' sake, however, the Court examines the issue anyway.
18 USC 1151, 1153, and 1201(a)(2): Kidnapping in Indian Country
18 USC 1151, 1153 and 2241(a): Aggravated Sexual Abuse by Force and Threat in Indian Country
18 USC 1151, 1153, and 113(a)(3): Assault with a Dangerous Weapon with Intent to do Bodily Harm in Indian Country
18 USC 1151, 1153, and 113(a)(6): Assault Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury in Indian Country
Outcome: Motion denied.