Discuss the Legal Procedure for Arresting a Suspect in Homicide Investigation


A 911 call is received in which a woman states she heard a gunshot from the townhouse next to hers. She is located at 233 Swann Drive. The townhouse from which the shot was heard is to the fight of hers. Before hearing the shot. she heard some arguing and shortly after she heard the door slam. She peeked out her window and observed a man leaving the townhouse and get into a dark SUV and leave. Although she knows the man and woman who live next door, it was too dark to tell if the man who left was the neighbour. Officers arrive on the scene and receive no response to their knocks at the door. They force entry and find a woman deceased at the bottom of the stairs. She appears to be suffering from a gunshot wound. No one else is in the house. Homicide and evidence are called and arrive about 30 minutes later. The house is searched. In the upstairs bedroom, there is evidence of a struggle or fight as items from the dresser and nightstand are on the floor. Bullets are found on the dresser and floor as well as an empty gun box. No gun is found in the house. The entire house is photographed, the items described above, as well as letters photographs and other personal items are collected.

The woman who placed the 911 call is interviewed and she repeats what she told the 911 operator and adds that both the occupants of the townhouse are often seen in a blue SUV Another witness. Bob Williams is interviewed who states he almost had a collision with a dark blue SUV which was leaving rapidly from the area around the time of the incident The driver of the SUV got into all argument with that witness, then fled the scene. It is determined that the male occupant James Downs has a blue Ford Explorer registered to him. The information concerning the homicide as well as the vehicle information is relayed over the radio and patrol officers are asked to look for the Explorer. Williams is shown 6 photographs including one of Downs and selects Downs as the person he saw in the SUV and with whom he argued.

Approximately 90 minutes after the initial call and following the broadcast information, patrol officers observed the Explorer at a 7-11 and Downs going into the 7-11. As he is coming back out, they approach him with guns drawn, and ask him not to get into the vehicle, they want to ask him some questions. They then begin to inquire as to his whereabouts at the time of the incident. He makes several incriminating statements. but does not admit killing the victim. The Explorer is searched and a gun is found inside a duffel bag in the rear compartment of the vehicle. (Assume it is not illegal to own a gun in this State, but it is illegal to have it in a vehicle unless you have a wear/carry permit). Downs is handcuffed and taken to Criminal Investigations Division.

At CID, Downs is advised of his Miranda rights, which he waives. He begins to talk about having an argument with the victim, then interrupts and asks the Detective if he should get a lawyer. The Detective tells Downs that he cannot give him advice about that, it is totally up to Downs. If Downs wants some time to think about it. The Detective will leave and come back. The Detective gets up to leave and Downs begins to talk again about how much in love they were, but they just kept arguing, he couldn't take it anymore. He then says he doesn't think he should say anything else.

Other detectives are running other leads checking Downs' background and talking to witnesses. One Detective learns that Downs has a handgun permit that allows him to transport a gun in his vehicle.

1. Discuss the legality of the entry to the house and the subsequent search. At any point, should officers have obtained a search warrant? Why or why not? Whether or not you agree they should have obtained a warrant, what items should have been in the command clause of the warrant?

2. Discuss the proper method of showing the photographs to Williams.

3. Discuss the legality of the stop of Downs at the 7-11, the questioning of Downs, and the search of the Explorer? Was he arrested, if so at what point? Was his arrest legal?

4. Discuss whether the statement he made at CID should be admitted into evidence or suppressed. Assuming the statement as the 7-11 violated Miranda, what effect would that have on the CID statement, if any?

5. Discuss the grounds for appeal that might be present in this case and what you would expect a defense attorney to challenge.


The question belongs to Law and it is a scenario of a homicide. A gunshot is heard by a neighbour and she calls 911. The officers arriving at the scene find the body of a woman. Upon enquiry, a man is arrested who is often seen with the victim. The police find a gun in his SUV and start questioning. He admits that he was in a rough relationship with the deceased woman but does not admit to killing her. In this case, the legality of the arrest of the suspect without a proper arrest warrant, the waiver of rights and the ground for appeal from the defense attorney are answered in the solution in detail.

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