Number of victims: 3
Date of murder:
Date of birth: 1961
Victims profile: Clinton
Wilson, 50, and Deborah Wilson, 35; and David Martin, 28
Method of murder: Stabbing
Location: Haralson County, Georgia, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on February 16, 1998
A jury begann deciding today whether
convicted murderer David Scott Franks should be executed for an
August 1994 rampage in which he stabbed to death a Hall County
woman and injured her 2 children.
After 11 days of testimony, the jury
deliberated for a total of about 1 hour on Saturday and Monday
before finding Franks guilty of 12 felonies in connection with
the murder of 35-year-old Deborah Wilson and the stabbing of her
2 children, ages 13 and 9.
Franks, 33, also is accused of shooting to
death Deborah Wilson's husband, Clinton, and his helper, David
Martin, just hours earlier in the basement of his pawnshop in
Haralson County. He has not been tried on those charges.
Franks, who has shown little emotion, was on
the verge of tears Monday as he apologized to his own family for
his actions. Moments earlier, he asked relatives of his victims
to forgive him for his "involvement in the dealings we had that
night," an apparent reference to his earlier testimony in which
he claimed 2 other men murdered Clinton Wilson, 50, and Martin,
28, because of a drug deal gone sour.
"I thought that was an empty apology," Chief
Assistant District Attorney Margaret Gregory remarked afterward.
"If I were a family member, I would be insulted."
Franks' lawyers, Stan Robbins and Joey Homans,
have asked the court to declare the electric chair
unconstitutional on grounds that it amounts to cruel and unusual
punishment. The attorneys submitted the motion more than 2 years
ago, although Judge John Girardeau has refused to rule on the
matter until after the jury decides the penalty. Georgia is 1 of
a handful of states that still use the electric chair as the
preferred form of execution.
Following Monday's decision, jurors heard
from relatives of both Deborah Wilson and Franks.
Tearfully reading a written statement,
Deborah Wilson's mother, Diane Boone, told jurors that she
thinks about her dead daughter every day.
Her voice filling with anger, Boone recounted
the last conversation with her daughter.
"The purpose of the last phone call I
received from Debbie was to tell me about a man named David
Scott Franks, who stabbed her and left her to die," Boone said.
"My heart was shattered on Aug. 5, 1994, and
there is no way to repair the damage that David Franks has
The jury is scheduled to return to court at
10 a.m. and will begin deliberations on the death penalty
following instructions from Girardeau.
(source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution -
FRANKS v. THE STATE.
(268 Ga. 238)
(486 SE2d 594)
Miranda; routine booking questions. Hall Superior Court. Before
The State seeks imposition of the death
penalty against David Scott Franks for the murder of Deborah
Wilson. We granted interim review to determine whether the
question of how Franks injured his arm falls under the exception
to Miranda 1 for "routine
Franks was arrested in Alabama for "unlawful
flight to avoid prosecution" for fatally stabbing Wilson and
assaulting her two children in Haralson County, Georgia.
After unsuccessfully attempting to draw
Franks out of his brother-in-law's house, a team of officers
entered the house and found him hiding under a bed. Franks was
brought outside and taken into custody by FBI Agent Gordon Snow,
who was in charge of the investigation.
Prior to Frank's arrest, Snow received
teletypes stating that Franks had sustained a knife wound in
connection with the crimes for which he was sought. Medical
personnel at the scene treated an injury to Franks' forearm near
the elbow. Although Snow was aware of the bandage, he did not
ask anyone present about the injury.
Franks was read the Miranda warnings and
declined to make a statement. A deputy drove Franks to the
Alabama Detention Center where he was placed in a booking room
with Snow and Special Agent Joe Magill for "processing." The
procedure included fingerprinting and photographing Franks and
collecting physical data; it did not require the completion of
any standard form.
Magill, who acted as coordinator of the
manhunt for Franks, had sent the teletypes to Snow regarding
Franks' arm injury and was aware of the circumstances of Franks'
arrest. Snow did not discuss the bandage with Magill. Prior to
fingerprinting, Magill asked Franks how he received the bandage
on his arm. Franks replied that the bandage covered a stab wound.
Magill did not inquire further about the injury and did not ask
whether Franks required medical attention.
Franks filed a motion to exclude the
admission regarding the stab wound. The trial court summarily
denied Franks' motion, finding that the testimony of Snow and
Magill "demonstrated" that the question regarding the bandage
was a "routine booking question" under Pennsylvania v. Muniz,
496 U. S. 582, 601 (110 SC 2638, 110 LE2d 528) (1990).
The Fifth Amendment requires the exclusion of
any statement made by an accused during custodial interrogation,
unless he has been advised of his rights and has voluntarily
waived those rights. Miranda, supra. A well-established line of
federal and state case law has created an exemption from the
Miranda rule for questions attendant to arrest,
2 because such questions are
not related to the investigation of the case, and at the same
time serve a legitimate administrative need. See, e.g., Muniz,
supra; Edwards v. State, 220 Ga. App. 74,
76-77 (2) (467 SE2d 379) (1996);
Mincey v. State, 257 Ga. 500, 506
(10) (360 SE2d 578) (1987).
Georgia courts have confined the booking
exception to requests for basic biographical data, such as the
suspect's name, age, address, educational background, marital
status, and other information required to complete an arrest
form. Edwards, supra at 76; Baird v. State,
263 Ga. 868, 871 (1) (440
SE2d 190) (1994); Mincey, supra at 506; Lester v. State,
174 Ga. App. 886, 887 (2) (332
SE2d 31) (1985). There is no per se exception to Miranda
for questions asked during booking. See, e.g., Muniz, supra at
602, n. 14; Morris v. State, 161 Ga. App.
141 (2) (288 SE2d 102) (1982); Price v. State,
160 Ga. App. 245 (5) (286 SE2d 744)
Like most federal and state courts, we are
unwilling to create a broad exception to the Fifth Amendment for
police questions asked during booking "without investigative
intent" or pursuant to "administrative procedure" once an
accused has invoked his rights. Police questioning during
booking not requesting basic biographical data essential to the
booking process must therefore be scrutinized on a case-by-case
We first address whether the question at
issue in this case is the sort of "routine booking question" to
which Muniz refers. We conclude that it is not. The question of
how a suspect received an obvious injury is distinguishable from
questions asked to secure "biographical data necessary to
complete booking or pretrial services" in one essential respect:
The former is more likely to elicit an incriminating response
because the suspect's injury may be directly related to the
crime he is suspected of committing. Since the rationale for
creating an exemption to Miranda for questions asked during
booking is that these questions are generally unrelated to the
crime and are therefore unlikely to elicit an incriminating
response, we reject the argument that the question of how a
suspect was injured is automatically exempted from Miranda
because asking about injuries is "routine procedure" for "identification
Our inquiry must extend further, to the
determination of whether under the totality of the circumstances
the question was equivalent to "custodial interrogation."
Relevant factors include the context in which the question was
asked, the officer's intention in asking the question, and the
relationship of the question to the crime.
"[T]he definition of interrogation can extend
only to words or actions on the part of police officers that
they should have known were reasonably likely to elicit an
incriminating response." Rhode Island v. Innis, 446 U. S. 291,
302 (100 SC 1682, 64 LE2d 297) (1980). The focus of whether "interrogation"
occurs is primarily upon the perceptions of the suspect and not
the intent of the officer, although the officer's intent is
relevant. Id. at 301, n. 7. "This focus reflects the fact that
the Miranda safeguards were designed to vest a suspect in
custody with an added measure of protection against coercive
police practices, without regard to objective proof of the
underlying intent of the police." Hibbert v. State,
195 Ga. App. 235, 236 (393
SE2d 96) (1990), quoting Innis, supra at 301.
Although the question in the present case was
asked in a booking situation, the availability of the privilege
against self-incrimination does not turn upon the type of
proceeding in which its protections are invoked but upon the
nature of the statement or admission it invites. From the
suspect's perspective, the inquiry was conducted by officers who
were aware of the potentially incriminating nature of the
disclosure sought. Compare, e.g., Edwards, supra at 76 (inquiry
conducted by a jailer completing a standardized arrest form).
Franks was therefore confronted with a "cruel trilemma" against
which the Fifth Amendment protects. See Muniz, supra at 596-600.
As "the inherently coercive environment created by the custodial
interrogation precluded the option of remaining silent," Franks
was confronted with the choice of incriminating himself or lying
to the agents. Id. at 599. We conclude that a reasonable person
in Franks' position would have believed that he was subjected to
The State argues that Magill did not intend
to elicit an incriminating response from Franks, because the
question was prompted by his reasonable belief that Franks had
been injured during his arrest and might later file a civil
rights suit. The reasonableness of this belief is a factor in
determining whether "interrogation" occurred, although it is not
determinative. Innis, supra. As the coordinator of the manhunt,
Magill sent teletypes to Snow regarding Franks' arm wound. On
the other hand, Magill did not receive information from Snow,
who had custody of Franks, or anyone else present at the scene,
that Franks was injured during his capture and arrest.
When Magill questioned Franks at the
detention center, the only evidence of any injury was the
bandage on Franks' arm. Notwithstanding Magill's subjective
intent, we think Magill should have known that the bandage was
reasonably likely to be covering the knife wound mentioned in
Finally, the relationship of the information
sought to the crime is highly relevant in determining whether
the question was equivalent to "interrogation." Booking
questions generally have little to do with evidence adduced at
trial. Whereas in the present case, the content and phrasing of
the specific question appear designed to elicit a response which
could scarcely have been more incriminating, since it tended to
identify Franks as the perpetrator of the offenses which the
agents suspected he committed.
Under the totality of the circumstances, we
find that Franks was subjected to "interrogation" in violation
of his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Under
the circumstances of this case, the application of the booking
exception would not serve its purpose, which is to exempt from
Miranda, the "unforeseeable results" of routine questions during
the booking process. Hibbert, supra at 236. Our resolution of
this issue does not require that we decide the scope of possible
questions, absent the procedural safeguards required by Miranda,
that may be posed to a suspect during booking regarding possible
injuries, and we emphasize that this holding should be confined
to the peculiar facts of this case.
The trial court's determination of whether "interrogation"
occurred will be upheld on appeal unless clearly erroneous.
Walton v. State, 267 Ga. 713,
718 (4) (482 SE2d 330) (1997).
Although we do not lightly substitute our judgment for that of
the trial court, we conclude that the trial court's finding that
the question concerning the arm bandage falls under the "routine
booking exception" to Miranda is clearly erroneous. Franks'
response to the question is inadmissible at trial for any
purpose other than impeachment.
SEARS, Justice, concurring.
Although I believe that police officers have
the responsibility, as part of routine booking questioning, to
ask medical questions that are necessary to fulfill the State's
obligation to provide medical treatment to its inmates, I also
believe that (1) when officers, such as the one in this case,
know the nature of an injury that a suspect received during the
commission of a crime, they should carefully phrase their
medical questions so that they tend not to elicit incriminating
evidence from the suspect, 5
and that (2) under the circumstances of this case, the officer's
question regarding how Franks received his injury was not so
limited, and amounted to an interrogation that was not exempted
from the requirements of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U. S. 436 (86
SC 1602, 16 LE2d 694) (1966). I therefore concur in the majority
HUNSTEIN, Justice, dissenting.
Without any clear statement as to how the
trial court abused its discretion in this matter, the majority
substitutes its judgment for that of the trial court and
concludes that the question of how Franks received the injury is
not a "routine booking question." Because I agree with the trial
court that the question as to how Franks received the injury
falls within the booking question exception to Miranda and there
is sufficient evidence to support the trial court's finding, I
In Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U. S. 436 (86 SC
1602, 16 LE2d 694) (1966), the United States Supreme Court
recognized that proper protection of the privilege against self-incrimination
requires the adoption of procedural safeguards to be applied to
custodial interrogation. The court specifically held that an
individual in police custody must be warned of his rights prior
to any custodial interrogation. Miranda, supra, 384 U. S. at
479. Since the Supreme Court issued its decision in Miranda,
however, a number of exceptions to its requirements have been
recognized, including the routine booking question exception
referenced by the court in Pennsylvania v. Muniz, 496 U. S. 582,
601 (110 SC 2638, 110 LE2d 528) (1990). This exception "exempts
from Miranda's coverage questions to secure the 'biographical
data necessary to complete booking or pretrial services.' [Cits.]"
6 Id. These routine booking
questions fall outside of Miranda's reach because they are not
likely to elicit incriminating information from the person in
custody but are merely used for administrative and
identification purposes. See Muniz, supra, 496 U. S. at 601.
After hearing all of the evidence, the trial
court found that the question asked by FBI Agent Magill was a
routine question and was not one which police should have known
was reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response. The
trial court's ruling was not clearly erroneous as to either of
these findings. As to the question in this case, the trial court
heard testimony from Agent Magill that "when [the FBI]
apprehend[s] fugitives [they] like to get a thorough description
of them," including their physical description, height, weight,
eye color, scars, tattoos, fingerprints, and injuries like marks,
swelling, bruises, and bandages and that it is procedure to ask
about injuries when the person in custody has a bandage or other
type of visible injury.
The agent further testified that he knew
before meeting Franks that the arrest had been difficult,
requiring authorities to use tear gas before Franks was dragged
from under a bed where he was hiding with a gun to his head, and
he thought Franks had been injured during the arrest.
His belief was supported by the fact that the
bandage on Franks' arm appeared very recent whereas the injury
he was believed to have received at the time of the crime would
have been nine days old at the time of his booking; further,
Agent Magill testified that he understood Franks' earlier injury
to have been an "upper arm" injury, not an injury on the elbow
as indicated by the bandage at the time of booking.
Thus, while obviously not all questions asked
during the booking procedure are routine booking questions,
Agent Magill's testimony supports the trial court's finding that
a question regarding visible injuries was a question normally
attendant to arrest and custody, especially where such extreme
measures as tear gas and physical force are required to
apprehend the suspect. The question constituted a legitimate
police concern for Franks' then-existing medical condition and
did not seek to prove an element of the crime Franks was
suspected of committing. See Rhode Island v. Innis, 446 U. S.
291, 300-301 (100 SC 1682, 64 LE2d 297) (1980); United States v.
Gotchis, 803 F2d 74 (2nd Cir. 1986) (question concerning
arrestee's employment was booking question); United States v.
LaVallee, 521 F2d 1109, 1113 (2nd Cir. 1975) (questions
concerning marital status are basic information for booking
purposes); United States v. LaMonica, 472 F2d 580, 581 (9th Cir.
1972) (question about meaning of document during inventory of
personal possessions was not asked for the purpose of eliciting
an incriminating statement); Hibbert v. State,
195 Ga. App. 235, 236-237 (393
SE2d 96) (1990) (request for names and addresses of
family members within the booking exception); State v. Geasley,
619 NE2d 1086, 1093 (Ohio App. 1993) (questions about physical
and medical condition posed to DUI arrestee proper).
The majority likewise fails to explain what
is clearly erroneous in the trial court's finding that Agent
Magill's question was not one which he should have known was
likely to elicit an incriminating response from Franks. Whether
an officer knew or should have known that a particular question
was reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response from
the suspect is a question of fact to be resolved by the trial
court. Syfrett v. State, 210 Ga. App. 185,
186-187 (435 SE2d 470) (1993);
Davis v. State, 191 Ga. App. 566,
568 (382 SE2d 396) (1989).
Here, there is more than sufficient evidence
to authorize the trial court's finding that Agent Magill's
question was not one which police knew or should have known was
reasonably likely to elicit Franks' incriminating response, in
that the question did not necessarily require Franks to "speak
his guilt," Muniz, supra, 496 U. S. at 594, and did not limit
his answering the question to "self-accusation, perjury or
contempt." Id., 496 U. S. at 595, n. 8. Agent Magill's question
was just as likely to elicit a response such as "I hurt my arm"
which would have been truthful, responsive to the question, and
would in no way have implicated Franks' guilt. Thus, the "cruel
trilemma" against which the right to remain silent was intended
to protect is not implicated by Magill's question. See id., 496
U. S. at 594.
The police must be permitted some leeway into
inquiring into the present medical condition of the arrestee.
The purpose of such inquiry is not to elicit incriminating
responses, but rather to ensure the safety and well-being of the
suspect while in the custody of the police. Accordingly, asking
an arrestee whether he has recently seen a physician, is taking
medication, or has any medical condition requiring special
treatment is a legitimate police concern when booking a suspect.
Geasley, supra, 619 NE2d at 1093. Because I
cannot say that the trial court was clearly erroneous in
concluding that Agent Magill's question fell within the routine
booking question exception to Miranda, I would affirm the trial
court's order denying Franks' motion to exclude his response to
I am authorized to state that Justice Carley
and Justice Hines join in this dissent.
Lydia J. Sartain, District Attorney, Leonard
C. Parks, Jr., Assistant District Attorney, for appellee.
v. Arizona, 384 U. S. 436 (86 SC 1602, 16 LE2d 694) (1966).
2 The court
in Muniz specifically referred to questions asked to secure "biographical
data necessary to complete booking or pretrial services." Muniz,
supra at 601.
parties agree that Franks was not in need of medical assistance
and none was offered.
thought Franks might have been injured when he was pulled from
under the bed prior to his arrest because the bandage was clean
and was on the forearm near the elbow, not the upper arm as
stated in the reports. Snow testified he believed Franks might
have been injured when rocks were thrown though a window in the
room where Franks was supposedly sleeping prior to his arrest.
The State's case is not helped by the fact that the
circumstances of the arrest are not entirely clear.
5 Of course,
this admonition is inapplicable if the suspect has been read his
Miranda rights and has made a valid waiver thereof
Justices joined in the division of the Muniz opinion expressly
recognizing the routine booking question exception to Miranda.
One Justice dissented to the plurality's recognition of the
exception, 496 U. S. at 610-611 (Marshall, J., dissenting) and
four Justices found it unnecessary to examine the exception
because they determined that Muniz's responses were not
testimonial and did not warrant application of the Fifth
Amendment. Muniz, 496 U. S. at 608 (Rehnquist, J., concurring).
Magill testified that he had reviewed a teletype reporting that
the suspect had a stab wound on the upper arm, and that he did
not know which arm was injured.
Robbins & McLeod, Stanley W. Robbins,
Thompson, Fox, Chandler, Homans & Hicks, Joseph A. Homans,
DECIDED JULY 14, 1997 -- RECONSIDERATION
DENIED JULY 24, 1997.
David Scott Franks