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January 19, 1990.

JAMES N. WHITE, Appellant.

*fn1 REPORTER'S NOTE: Affirmed as modified 246 Kan. 393, 789 P.2d 1175 (1990).

The opinion of the court was delivered by

This is a direct appeal by James N. White from his jury convictions in Shawnee District Court of first-degree

[246 Kan. 29]

      felony murder, K.S.A. 21-3401, and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, K.S.A. 21-3302; K.S.A. 21-3401. He was sentenced to not less than 5 nor more than 20 years for conspiracy, to run concurrent with a term of life imprisonment for the murder conviction.

  Defendant raises four issues on appeal: (1) whether a statement White made to Arizona authorities (the Arizona statement) was coerced; (2) whether the court erred in admitting into evidence a statement White made to Kansas authorities (the Kansas statement) after counsel had been appointed for him at his arraignment on an Arizona charge of possession of stolen property; (3) whether any error in the admission of the Kansas statement may be held to be harmless error beyond a reasonable doubt; and (4) whether there is sufficient evidence to support the conspiracy conviction.


  John Stacy was found dead in a Topeka hotel room on June 27, 1987. He had a broken nose, cuts on his right wrist, and twelve broken ribs. The coroner found the cause of death to be suffocation, suffered sometime between 10 p.m. on June 26 and 10 a.m. on June 27. Because of the absence of damage to the skin or soft tissues of the chest, the coroner concluded that Stacy's ribs were broken by means of blunt force, such as would be applied by someone sitting heavily on the chest. He also found it likely that complete suffocation was achieved by someone holding the bloodstained pillow, which had been found in the hotel room, over Stacy's face. Finally, he was of the opinion that Stacy's wrist had been cut after his death because only a very small amount of blood flowed from the wound.

  Stacy's watch and car were missing, and only two dollars were found in his wallet. The car was found about 37 days later in Arizona. This led to information leading to the arrest of White and his companion, Sandra Hamilton, for possession of stolen property. While he was in custody, White gave statements admitting the murder to Arizona authorities (the Arizona statement) and later, while still in custody in Arizona, to Kansas authorities. Both statements were received in evidence, and form the basis for the issues raised on appeal. We will discuss both statements in connection with those issues.

[246 Kan. 30]


  In addition to White's statements, there was a great deal of evidence placing White and Hamilton at the scene of the homicide, and placing them in Stacy's company shortly before his death. A neighbor of Stacy's testified she saw two people fitting White's and Hamilton's descriptions go with Stacy into his trailer home on June 26. An acquaintance of Stacy's testified that on June 26, a young man fitting White's description appeared with Stacy at her home to pick up a painting. Another witness, a laundromat employee, testified that two people fitting White's and Hamilton's descriptions used the laundromat on the afternoon of June 26, while Stacy waited in his car. A bank teller testified that a young white man and a young white woman were with Stacy on the late afternoon of June 26 when Stacy withdrew $300 from his bank account at the drive-up window.

  A Topeka hotel employee testified that two people fitting the description of White and Hamilton checked into the hotel on June 26. The woman fitting Hamilton's description signed the register and receipt in Stacy's name. A document examiner for the K.B.I. verified that the writing was Hamilton's. A waitress at the hotel testified that two people fitting the description of White and Hamilton had dinner with an older man fitting Stacy's description on June 26. She identified photographs of them, picked out White in a photographic lineup, and identified him in court. Latent fingerprints, one of White's and one of Hamilton's, were found in Stacy's car, along with a letter addressed to White.

  White and Hamilton were charged with murder by Kansas authorities, extradited from Arizona, and driven back to Topeka by two Kansas deputy sheriffs. One of the deputies testified that she overheard several incriminating statements while White and Hamilton talked together in the back seat, and that none of the statements were made as a result of questioning, coercion, or inducement. The first statement was made while White and Hamilton were discussing possible sentences which might be imposed on them. White told Hamilton, "I did the crime, I have to do the time." The second statement occurred while the two were discussing cars. White indicated he preferred Chevys and Hamilton said she preferred Fords. White said, "I started to say that I wouldn't even steal a Ford, but I can't say that since the Escort

[246 Kan. 31]

      [Stacy's car] was a Ford." The third statement occurred while the two were discussing their bonds, and Hamilton said she could borrow $250,000 from someone. White asked her why, if she could get that kind of money, she had not done so before. He concluded, "If you had borrowed the money, we wouldn't have had to steal the car and everything." As they entered Topeka, White said it did not look familiar. Hamilton replied, "That's because we were never in Topeka. We just got off the ramp at the motel." The evidence at trial indicated the three had stayed at the Downtown Holiday Inn in Topeka, just off Interstate 70.

  White was later arrested by local police in Arizona. One of the Arizona officers testified that White was arrested and handcuffed when he stepped outside a residence. White was immediately informed he was being detained for having committed the crime of possession of a stolen vehicle, and he was given the Miranda warnings. White acknowledged he understood his rights and told the officers he had taken the vehicle. The officer testified that at that time White appeared coherent, appeared to understand what was going on as the officer read him his rights and did not appear to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. At the hearing before the trial court on the admissibility of this statement, White argued he was not given the Miranda warnings before he told the officers ...

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