FROM HENDERSON CIRCUIT COURT HONORABLE KAREN L. WILSON, JUDGE
ACTION NO. 16-CR-00324
FOR APPELLANT: John Gerhart Landon Assistant Public Advocate
FOR APPELLEE: Andy Beshear Attorney General of Kentucky John
Paul Varo Assistant Attorney General Frankfort, Kentucky
BEFORE: CLAYTON, CHIEF JUDGE; KRAMER AND NICKELL, JUDGES.
Brank appeals from the Henderson Circuit Court's judgment
and sentence of imprisonment entered March 2, 2017, following
an order denying his motion to suppress and a jury trial.
Discerning no error, we affirm.
approximately 10:00 p.m. on June 19, 2016, Officer Lucas
Meredith of the Henderson Police Department was called to the
scene of a reported burglary. The victim identified Brank as
the suspected perpetrator and provided Officer Meredith a
physical description of Brank and his vehicle. Over the
police radio, Officer Meredith learned his supervising
officer had stopped a vehicle nearby, matching Brank's.
On arriving at his supervisor's location, Officer
Meredith confirmed the detained passenger was Brank, and
observed he met the physical description provided by the
victim. Officer Meredith arrested Brank and brought him to
the Henderson County Detention Center for intake and booking.
evening, Deputy Calvin Shields was working third-shift at the
Henderson County Detention Center assisting medical staff
charged with evaluating detainees prior to booking. Pursuant
to usual procedure, Brank was evaluated by detention center
medical staff before booking because he appeared to be under
the influence. During Brank's medical intake, a nurse
observed he did not appear well. His temperature was elevated
and he was sweating profusely. Medical staff asked Brank if
he had taken anything and he responded he had not. Deputy
Shields advised Brank to tell the nurse if he had taken
something so she would know how to treat him. Brank again
denied taking anything and was moved to a holding cell. While
there, Brank still appeared ill. The nurse noted Brank's
eyes were rolling, he was sweating profusely and his blood
pressure was skyrocketing. The nurse discussed the matter
with her supervisor and decided Brank needed to go to the
emergency room. Deputy Shields drove Brank to the hospital in
hospital, Shields remained with Brank the entire time. The
nurse at the hospital asked Brank if he had swallowed
anything. Brank said he did not want to incriminate himself.
Shields advised Brank to tell the nurse what he had taken or
he could die. While the nurse prepared to administer charcoal
to induce vomiting, she again asked Brank what he had taken.
Brank repeated he did not want to incriminate himself. Deputy
Shields again advised Brank to tell the nurse what he had
taken so she could treat him. Brank admitted he had swallowed
three or four grams of methamphetamine. The nurse
administered the charcoal and Brank vomited a plastic bag
onto the floor. Medical staff took the plastic bag to the lab
for testing. Lab analysis revealed the bag contained
August 2016, the Henderson County grand jury indicted Brank
for tampering with physical evidence and being a persistent
felony offender in the first degree (PFO I). Following
indictment, Brank moved to suppress the statements he had
made to jail personnel and hospital staff admitting he
ingested a bag of methamphetamine. As grounds, Brank argued
he was too intoxicated to knowingly and voluntarily waive his
right to remain silent. A hearing was held on the motion to
suppress the morning of trial. Deputy Shields, the only
witness, testified he did not give Brank
Miranda warnings, as doing so was not part of his
duties. Deputy Shields also testified Brank appeared to
understand all the questions being asked of him and was able
to answer. After Deputy Shields finished testifying, the
Commonwealth offered Brank's medical records into
evidence. Without objection from Brank's counsel, the
trial court admitted the medical records into evidence. Based
on testimony offered at the hearing, Brank's counsel
additionally moved to suppress on the grounds Brank had not
received Miranda warnings and had clearly invoked
his right to remain silent, yet Deputy Shields continued to
pressure Brank into telling the nurse what he took, or he
trial court orally denied Brank's motion to suppress at
the hearing, and by written order entered January 10, 2017.
The trial court's conclusions of law state, in pertinent
[g]enerally speaking, no constitutional provision protects an
intoxicated defendant from confessing to a crime. Smith
v. Commonwealth, 410 S.W.3d 160, 164 (Ky. 2013). A
confession may be suppressed when the defendant is
"intoxicated to the point of mania" or is
hallucinating, functionally insane, or otherwise unable to
understand the meaning of his statements. Id.
(quoting Halvorsen v. Commonwealth, 730 S.W.2d 921,
927 (Ky. 1986). This does not appear to be the case here.
While Brank may have been in distress, the evidence is he was
able to understand the questions that were being asked and to
give relevant answers.
Further the Court does not believe that the defendant needed
to be advised of his Miranda rights before being
asked these questions. Neither Shields nor the hospital nurse
were requested or appointed to interrogate Brank about any
offense. Jackson v. Commonwealth, 468 S.W.3d 874,
876 (Ky. App. 2014); Fields v. Commonwealth, 12
S.W.3d 275, 283-84 (Ky. 2000). They were there for the
purpose of treating his immediate physical needs, i.e., a
potentially fatal drug overdose. Jackson, 468 S.W.3d
874, 877. What he had ingested was relevant and necessary to
effectuate this treatment.
trial, the jury found Brank guilty of tampering with physical
evidence and being a PFO I. The Henderson Circuit Court
entered its judgment on March 2, 2017, sentencing Brank to
fifteen years' imprisonment in ...