Adkins v. Commonwealth (U)

In the defendant’s trial for murder, the trial court should have granted the defendant’s motion to suppress statements he made after invoking his right to remain silent. The defendant invoked that right when he said: “I don’t have no more to say to you.” The fact that detectives ended the interrogation within 15 seconds of the defendant’s statement indicates that they understood he was invoking his right to remain silent.

Once the defendant invoked his right, the Commonwealth was prohibited from interrogating him unless he voluntarily reinitiated the interrogation or a significant period of time passed. Here, neither exception applied. Because the Commonwealth relied on the defendant’s statements to undermine his claim that he was acting in self-defense, permitting this evidence was not harmless error.

However, the trial court did not err in refusing to instruct the jury on mutual combat. Where one party assaults another, the ensuing struggle cannot be accurately described as a mutual combat. Here, the record demonstrates that Adkins and the victim were engaged in an argument, and then the victim became the sole aggressor.

Reversed and remanded.

Adkins v. Commonwealth (U), No. 180485, Mar. 28, 2019. SCV (per curiam) from CAV.

Categories: Opinions, Supreme Court of Virginia, Unpublished

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