Reaction Paper: Murder Trial of Nicholas Lindsey

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[. . .] By contrast, the defense strategy seemed to be that Lindsey lacked the element of premeditation, suggesting the killins was manslaughter. The defense attorney attempted to humanize Lindsey and generate empathy, describing his troubled childhood and depicting him as a scared, young child who was confused and exercised poor judgment. The defense maintained that Lindsey fired the gun accidentally, and continued to shoot in a state of sheer panic, but he did not act intentionally. If the jury believed that Lindsey did fire the gun accidentally, this would negate the element of premeditation and Lindsey could be found guilty of manslaughter, a lesser offense.[footnoteRef:2] [2:;]

However, the prosecution's evidence against Lindsey was strong: video-recorded confession; DNA connecting him to a car he had burglarized in the area; an eyewitness to the shooting; witnesses who saw him running away from the scene; and one witness who saw him running through downtown St. Petersburg with a silver gun in his hand.[footnoteRef:3] Hence, the jury returned a verdict of guilty of first degree murder, and Lindsey was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. [3:]

2. Admissibility of Lindsey's statement to the police

Pursuant to the United States Supreme Court's interpretation of the Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause, the Constitutional right against compelled self-incrimination mandates that police administer Miranda warnings to an arrestee before conducting a custodial interrogation. The warning requirement is based on the premise that custodial interrogations by police are "inherently coercive." Miranda warnings include: 1. The defendant has a right to remain silent; 2. If he chooses to speak, anything he says can be used against him in court. 3. The defendant has a right to an attorney; and 4. If he cannot afford an attorney, the court will appoint one for him. Minor variations on the specific wording are permissible.[footnoteRef:4] Statements taken in violation of Miranda may be admitted at trial to impeach the defendant if he testifies. If a suspect waves Miranda, that means they have waived the right to an attorney and to remain silent, and his statements may be admitted in evidence at trial. [4: Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966)]

The point at which the right to the assistance of counsel begins or first attaches is not always a simple determination. In this case, Lindsey made two statements to police, one before receiving Miranda warnings and one after. In a pre-trial evidentiary hearing, the defense argued that both statements should be excluded at trial. In the first statement, after Lindsey was booked in custody, a police officer asked Lindsey about the shoes he was wearing. No Miranda warning was given. Lindsey responded that he was wearing his mother's shoes because he could not find his own. This information was relevant and inculpatory because police had found a Nike slip-on sneaker/sandal at the crime scene that matched a pair owned by Lindsey.[footnoteRef:5] However, the judge ruled this statement inadmissible at trial, probably because the officer's question amounted to a custodial interrogatory, (reasonably likely to elicit incriminating information) and Miranda warnings had not been given at that point. [5:]

The judge ruled that Lindsey's second statement, in which he confessed to the shooting, was admissible, as Miranda warnings had been given and the judge deemed they had been waived. This was bad from Lindsey's perspective, as he provided a full, detailed account of how he shot and killed the officer.

3. Prior offenses

A defendant's prior offenses are generally inadmissible character evidence, and they are often considered to be more prejudicial to the defendant than probative of any material fact in the present action. Here, Lindsey had a few prior petty offenses, but the court held this evidence inadmissible on the grounds that it would amount to propensity evidence, or evidence that simply suggests that someone is more likely to have committed the instant offense. The jury would then improperly weigh Lindsey's past more heavily than the evidence of the current charge in arriving at its decision. [END OF PREVIEW]

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APA Format

Murder Trial of Nicholas Lindsey.  (2012, April 8).  Retrieved July 18, 2019, from

MLA Format

"Murder Trial of Nicholas Lindsey."  8 April 2012.  Web.  18 July 2019. <>.

Chicago Format

"Murder Trial of Nicholas Lindsey."  April 8, 2012.  Accessed July 18, 2019.