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ASHDOWN V. UTAH, 357 U. S. 426 (1958)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Ashdown v. Utah, 357 U.S. 426 (1958)

Ashdown v. Utah

No. 158

Argued April 1, 1958

Decided June 30, 1958

357 U.S. 426


Petitioner claims that her conviction in a state court of first-degree murder was obtained by use in evidence of an oral confession which had been obtained in such a manner that its use violated due process of law under the Fourteenth Amendment. Her husband had died suddenly. Arriving at the cemetery just after the interment, the sheriff asked her to come to the courthouse, which she did. There, she talked with the sheriff, a deputy sheriff and the district attorney, all of whom she knew. The district attorney advised her that she did not have to answer any questions, and was entitled to an attorney, but she did not request an attorney until after her oral confession. She was treated in a temperate and courteous manner. She was told that her husband had died of poisoning, and the matter was approached as if to discover whether it had been accidental. The district attorney told her that he had once been cleared of a criminal charge by cooperating with the investigators. The officers let her talk freely on family matters without interruption. About four and a half hours after the interview began, she made the oral confession in issue here. Meanwhile, her father and uncle had come to the building and asked to see her, but they were not permitted to do so until after the interview.

Held: the record contains ample support for a finding that the officers did not take advantage of petitioner, and that nothing they did had the effect of overbearing her will, and the judgment is affirmed. Pp. 357 U. S. 427-431.

5 Utah 2d 59, 296 P. 2d 726, affirmed. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 357 U. S. 427

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