Argued: February 28, 2018
J. MacDonald, attorney general (Elizabeth C. Woodcock,
assistant attorney general, on the brief and orally), for the
Law Offices, of Chichester (Mark L. Sisti on the brief and
orally), for the defendant.
defendant, Brian A. Watson, appeals his conviction by a jury
for felony sale of a controlled drug with death resulting.
See RSA 318-B:26, IX (2017) (amended 2017). On
appeal, he argues that the Superior Court
(O'Neill, J.) erred by: (1) denying his motion
to suppress statements allegedly obtained in violation of his
Miranda rights, see Miranda v. Arizona, 384
U.S. 436 (1966); and (2) allowing a forensic toxicologist,
Dr. Daniel Isenschmid, to testify to the results of
toxicology tests that he did not conduct. We affirm.
the defendant has not provided, as part of the appellate
record, the transcript of the evidentiary hearing held on his
motion or all of the exhibits entered at that hearing, we
must assume that the evidence was sufficient to support the
trial court's denial of his motion to suppress, and we
review its decision only for errors of law. See State v.
Woods, 139 N.H. 399, 403 (1995). Accordingly, we accept
the following facts recited by the trial court in its order
defendant was stopped while driving in Tilton and arrested on
an active warrant for sale of a controlled drug. One of the
arresting detectives told the defendant that he was going to
read him his constitutional rights and then did so using a
"Miranda Warning" card. See Miranda, 384
U.S. at 467-73. The card contained a list of five individual
rights, and the detective read the defendant each right, one
at a time. After reading each right to the defendant, the
detective asked him if he understood the right that had been
read. The defendant indicated that he understood each right.
A second detective then informed the defendant that the
police were aware that he had picked up drugs in Manchester
earlier that day. The second detective asked the defendant
whether his vehicle contained any drugs. The defendant
indicated that he was unemployed and was temporarily selling
drugs to make ends meet. Neither detective had the defendant
complete or sign a waiver of rights form.
defendant was then transported to the police station. While
the defendant was being booked, one of the detectives asked
him whether he wanted to speak with the police. At first, the
defendant said that he "wasn't sure." A few
moments later, the detective again asked the defendant
whether he wanted to speak with the police, and he agreed to
detectives then brought the defendant into a small interview
room containing a table and three chairs. The defendant was
not handcuffed during the interview and did not seem overly
emotional or angry. The detectives estimated that no more
than 30 minutes elapsed between the defendant's initial
arrest and the police station interview. The interview lasted
approximately 30 minutes.
The interview began with the following exchange:
[Detective]: Brian, you are here at the police department.
You are in custody. You were arrested today for sales of a
controlled drug. You were arrested on the side of the road.
During that time, . . . I did go over your constitutional
rights with you, correct?
[Detective]: Okay, and you understood all of those rights at
[Detective]: And understanding those rights, you're
willing to sit here and hear what we have to say, correct?
first, the interview focused upon the sale of a controlled
drug charge. During this part of the interview, the defendant
made several potentially inculpatory statements regarding
that charge. However, midway through the interview, the
detective showed the defendant a photograph of a dead body
and indicated that the police had evidence that the
individual had died as a result of drugs that the defendant
had sold to him. The rest of the interview focused upon the
defendant's potential involvement in the individual's
death. During this part of the interview, the defendant made
several inculpatory statements regarding the sale of a
controlled drug with death resulting charge. He was arrested
on that charge after the interview concluded.
appeal, the defendant argues that the trial court erred by
failing to suppress his inculpatory statements because, he
contends, they were obtained in violation of his
Miranda rights. In so arguing, the defendant invokes
his state and federal constitutional rights against compelled
self-incrimination. See N.H. CONST. pt. I, art. 15;
U.S. CONST. amends. V, XIV. We first address the
defendant's claim under the State Constitution and rely
upon federal law only to aid our analysis. State v.
Ball, 124 N.H. 226, 231-33 (1983).
Hampshire Constitution guarantees a criminal defendant
protection from compelled self-incrimination. State v.
Roache, 148 N.H. 45, 48 (2002); see N.H. CONST.
pt. I, art. 15. Although neither the Federal nor the State
Constitution requires "any specific code of procedures
for protecting the privilege against self-incrimination
during custodial interrogation, " both the United States
Supreme Court and this court have developed rules for
safeguarding that privilege. Roache, 148 N.H. at 48
(quotation omitted). "Thus, when a person is taken into
custody or deprived of his freedom in any significant way,
and prior to interrogating him, the police must tell him that
he has a right to remain silent, that anything he says can
and will be used against him, and that he has a right to
counsel." Id.; see Miranda, 384 U.S.
at 467-73. If the person asserts any of those rights, all
questioning must cease. Roache, 148 N.H. at 48;
see Miranda, 384 U.S. at 473-74.
these so-called Miranda warnings are not themselves
rights protected by the Constitution, they are procedural
safeguards necessary to dissipate the atmosphere of
compulsion inherent in a custodial interrogation."
Roache, 148 N.H. at 48 (quotation and citation
omitted); see Miranda, 384 U.S. at 467. Accordingly,
"[b]efore a statement can be admitted into evidence, the
State has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt
that the defendant was apprised of his or her constitutional
rights and that the subsequent waiver was voluntary, knowing
and intelligent." State v. Pyles, 166 N.H. 166,
168 (2014) (quotation omitted).
defendant first asserts that the trial court erred when it
found that he voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently
waived his Miranda rights. A waiver need not be
express to be valid. State v. Duffy, 146 N.H. 648,
650 (2001). "Rather, we must ascertain whether, under
the totality of the circumstances, the defendant's
understanding of his rights coupled with his conduct supports
the trial court's ruling that he otherwise voluntarily,
knowingly, and intelligently waived his rights beyond a
reasonable doubt." Id. (quotation omitted).
"[W]e will not reverse the trial court's finding on
the issue of waiver unless the ...