The court overturned the murder conviction of Kenneth C. Dailey, III because two veteran homicide detectives failed to properly inform him of his Constitutional rights in 2004. more>>
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - It's a decision that could affect every criminal case in the state.
A convicted killer confessed to police and he's on his way out of prison.
Police video helped set a convicted killer free.
A few weeks after a woman's body was found in an abandoned car Kenneth Dailey drove himself to the police station. He thought he would give another set of fingerprints.
"This is the point it gets a little bit tough for you," a Metro detective told Dailey.
After a few minutes of small talk, detectives Mike Rowland and Pat Postiglione confront their suspect.
"Your prints are in a place they shouldn't have been," one of the detectives told Dailey.
The detectives urge Dailey to confess. They say they know he did it and they just want to know why.
"It's going to relieve you, too because you're a good person, you're a good man. We know that you've got a soul and a heart," said one of the detectives.
That was the part that took this case all the way to Tennessee's high court and the reason why a convicted killer is free.
"I was on top of her and I think I had my hands around her throat," Dailey said. "Next thing I know I find a piece of rope to and try to cover it up."
A Tennessee Supreme Court justice ruled late Friday that Dailey should have been given his Miranda rights before this conversation even started because a reasonable person, the law said, would not feel free to leave. Therefore, they are in custody.
When in custody, Miranda must be applied before questioning takes place.
"When you're in a room like that and someone is confronting you with the fact that they have evidence against you that you committed a murder, you're not going anywhere," said Nashville attorney Jim Todd.
The detectives eventually read Dailey his rights.
"I want to make this like it's supposed to be because that's what's going to help you. Okay. To make it official, I have to read you your rights," one of the detectives said.
Experts said the two-part confession has been routine procedure until now.
Legal experts claim the ruling is a victory on both sides because it takes a very gray area of the law and makes it black and white.
"It takes away a huge bullet from officer's gun when it comes to interrogating defendants," Todd said.
The opinion affects all future cases and every case that is still in the system. The state has 10 days to request a rehearing although some say that is doubtful since this ruling was a unanimous decision.
Some detectives said they are concerned that reading someone their rights can really shut someone up, even an innocent person so this takes away a key technique for them. However, other legal experts said it's a good thing for everyone because it does not change the law but defines it.