On March 9, 1991, Shawn Paul Novak was charged with the murder of two young boys, Daniel Grier, age nine, and Christopher Weaver, age seven. The boys had disappeared on March 4 and their bodies were found the next day after an extensive search. The police inquiry into the murders led to the questioning of a number of people, including Shawn, then age sixteen. Shawn was questioned on four separate occasions. At no time prior to, during, or after any of these questioning sessions was Shawn read his Mirandawarnings which specify the rights to which he was entitled under the Constitution. It was during the fifth and final interrogation session that Shawn finally confessed to the murders. After approximately thirty minutes of questioning, the detective persuaded Mrs. Novak to leave the interrogation room. He assured her that her son was not a suspect, but that he had "sensitive areas" that needed to be discussed which were in no way related to the murders. Almost two hours later, the Detective said, "Shawn. You can talk to me. Don't be afraid. Get it out. Don't be afraid... You killed them, didn't you?" It was not until Shawn answered "yes" that the Detective read him his Miranda rights for the first time.
Ellen R. Fulmer,
Novak v. Commonwealth: Are Virginia Courts Providing Special Protection to Virginia's Juvenile Defendants?,
U. Rich. L. Rev.
Available at: http://scholarship.richmond.edu/lawreview/vol30/iss3/9