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State v. Cloutier

Supreme Court of New Hampshire, Coos

January 13, 2015

The State of New Hampshire
v.
Elizabeth Cloutier

Argued October 16, 2014

Page 11

Joseph A. Foster, attorney general ( Elizabeth C. Woodcock, assistant attorney general, on the brief and orally), for the State.

Thomas Barnard, senior assistant appellate defender, of Concord, on the brief and orally, for the defendant.

CONBOY, J. DALIANIS, C.J., and HICKS, LYNN, and BASSETT, JJ., concurred.

OPINION

Page 12

Conboy, J.

The defendant, Elizabeth Cloutier, appeals her conviction bye jury on one count of burglary. See RSA 635:1 (2007) (amended 2014). On appeal, she argues that the Superior Court ( Bornstein, J.) erroneously denied her motion to suppress her confession. We affirm.

The following facts are drawn from the trial court's findings and rulings or are otherwise supported in the record, which includes a video-recorded interrogation of the defendant. On July 11, 2012, the defendant went to the Berlin Police Department to take a polygraph test in connection with an investigation of an alleged burglary of the victim's home. The defendant was a friend of the victim and had recently helped the victim locate a safe that had been stolen from her home. The defendant met with retired New Hampshire State Police Lieutenant Healy who explained the voluntary nature of the polygraph test and informed the defendant that she could leave the police station at any time. Healy also informed the defendant that the entire polygraph test and accompanying interview would be audio- and video-recorded and advised her of her Miranda rights. See Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966). The defendant then signed a form acknowledging that she had read the enumerated rights and understood them. She also signed a form stating that she agreed to take the polygraph test.

Before the polygraph examination began, Healy asked the defendant whether she was involved in the burglary and theft of the safe. The defendant denied any involvement. Healy then explained the polygraph test procedure and administered the polygraph test. The entire polygraph test procedure took nearly four hours after which the defendant was given a short break.

When they returned from the break, Healy, joined by Detective Poulin and Lieutenant Plourde of the Berlin Police Department, questioned the defendant about the crime. Healy informed her that, " All those rights I explained to you earlier, ... they still apply. This is still voluntary. You still have the right to remain silent. Nothing has changed." Healy then told the defendant that based upon his review of the polygraph test results, he knew she was " withholding significant information." Healy and Poulin repeatedly confronted her with their belief that she was involved in the burglary and theft of the safe and told her that they wanted to know why. The defendant initially stated that she did

Page 13

not " have anything to say" about the polygraph test results, but then denied any involvement in the crime. At one point, the defendant agreed with Plourde that video surveillance footage would show her and her daughter " over there." Poulin asked the defendant whether her daughter was involved in the burglary, which the defendant denied. Healy stated that he did not " want anybody making false accusations against" the defendant's daughter. He explained that while he was " not suggesting they will, ... she's always with you." He suggested that the footage could be problematic for the defendant because it would place her and her daughter " where the safe was found."

Approximately thirty minutes after the break, Plourde began questioning the defendant. He repeatedly told her that he was " 100 percent certain" that she was involved in the burglary and implored her to explain why. She said that she had " been hearing a few things" but that she was " not going to say any more about anything that [she had] heard." Plourde continued to question the defendant and tell ...


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