IN RE KEVIN K., SC 18233
Judicial District of Tolland, Juvenile Matters at Rockville
Juveniles; Whether Child's Statement to Police was Inadmissible in Delinquency Proceeding Because Child and Parent were not Advised of Child's Rights Pursuant to § 46b-137 (a) Before Child Made Statement. On October 9, 2005, a Vernon police officer investigating a small fire set behind a Rockville store interviewed thirteen year old Kevin K. at his home. Prior to the interview, the officer advised Kevin and his mother of Kevin's constitutional rights pursuant to General Statutes § 46b-137 (a), which provides that any admission, confession or statement made by a child to a police officer shall be inadmissible in a delinquency proceeding "unless made by such child in the presence of his parent or parents . . . and after the parent or parents . . . and child have been advised [of the child's Miranda rights]." Kevin denied lighting anything on fire in that interview. The officer subsequently spoke to another child involved who implicated Kevin in the incident. The officer returned to Kevin's home on October 11, 2005, to question him concerning the contradictions between his statement and that of the other child. The officer did not advise Kevin or his mother of Kevin's rights at the second interview. Kevin gave a second statement that conflicted with his previous statement and inculpated him in the incident. On the basis of his second statement, Kevin was charged as a delinquent. Prior to trial, Kevin moved to suppress the second statement. The motion to suppress was denied and, following a trial to the court, Kevin was adjudicated delinquent on charges of reckless burning and false statement in the second degree. He appealed, claiming the second statement was inadmissible pursuant to § 46b-137 (a) because the officer failed to advise him and his mother of his rights before he gave it. The Appellate Court (109 Conn. App. 206) agreed and remanded the case for a new trial. Finding the language of § 46b-137 (a) ambiguous, the court looked to the statute's legislative history and determined that the purpose of § 46b-137 (a) is to help a child and his parent or guardian decide whether to make a voluntary admission or to remain silent. The court ruled that, under the circumstances, the officer should have advised Kevin and his mother of Kevin's rights during the October 11, 2005 interview and that the resulting statement was inadmissible under § 46b-137 (a) because the circumstances did not show that Kevin and his mother were properly assisted in their decision regarding whether Kevin should speak or remain silent. The court ruled that the statement was inadmissible under § 46b-137 (a) - and that the motion to suppress should have been granted - because it could not conclude under the totality of the circumstances that Kevin and his mother made a valid decision to make a voluntary admission "that was not the product of coercion, suggestion, ignorance of rights or adolescent fantasy, fright or despair." The Supreme Court will now decide whether the Appellate Court properly construed § 46b-137 (a) as requiring that Kevin and his mother again be advised of Kevin's rights before he gave the second statement to police.