PORTLAND, Ore. — The Oregon Supreme Court on Thursday overturned the murder conviction of a Lane County man, ruling statements he made after requesting a lawyer should not have been admissible at his 2012 trial.
Robert Darnell Boyd, 33, was sentenced to life in prison after a jury convicted of him fatally beating his 18-year-old girlfriend on a Springfield sidewalk in 2010. Witnesses saw Boyd running from the scene and police found him with the woman’s blood on his hands, shoes and pants.
At the Springfield police station, Boyd told a sergeant and a detective he did not remember what happened. He expressed disbelief the woman was dead, asked why he was under arrest and requested a lawyer.
Seven hours later, the jailed Boyd initiated discussion with police, asking a sergeant: “Is anybody going to tell me why I’m here? I need to call my baby girl because she’s going to wonder where I’m at.”
The sergeant asked Boyd if “baby girl” referred to the girlfriend, Allyson Archibald. He also asked if Boyd recalled the detective telling him why he had been arrested.
“I just told him that I was present when Detective Myers told him that she was dead and he was under arrest for killing her,” the sergeant recalled at a court hearing. “He got real agitated and started breathing heavy and clenching his fists and told me, ‘no, no, she ain’t dead, you’re lying’ and then he tells me ‘I want to talk to the detective that you said I talked to.'”
Boyd then waived his Miranda rights and spoke the detective, admitting there had been an altercation. Boyd said he blacked out after hitting her once. When Myers said the woman’s injuries were inconsistent with a single punch, Boyd requested an attorney and the interview ended.
Though Boyd questioned the sergeant, the high court ruled the sergeant responded with questions likely to elicit incriminating responses.
Because Boyd’s request to speak with the detective “was hardly unprompted,” the opinion states, everything he said after becoming agitated and waiving his Miranda rights should have been inadmissible at trial.
The state unsuccessfully argued the defendant had asked a confusing question and the sergeant sought clarity.
Chief Lane County Deputy District Attorney Erik Hasselman said he hopes the state attorney general will appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. He said Boyd will be retried, if necessary.
“Our position is Springfield police acted reasonable under the circumstances and we don’t agree with the conclusion that their behavior was illegal,” he said.