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Nix v. Williams

United States Supreme Court
467 U.S. 431 (1984)


In 1968, a 10-year-old girl was abducted and murdered. Williams (defendant) hired an attorney and surrendered to police. After arraignment, Williams was transported to Des Moines. Police told Williams’ attorney that he would not be questioned. During transport, one of the officers urged Williams to lead them to the body. Williams did so, and the girl’s body was found over two miles from the nearest search team. Williams moved to suppress the evidence of the body as fruit of an unlawful interrogation. The trial court denied the motion, and a jury convicted Williams of first-degree murder. The Iowa Supreme Court affirmed. Williams petitioned the United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa for a writ of habeas corpus, and the court held that the evidence should have been suppressed. The Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari and affirmed. During Williams’ second trial, the prosecution did not offer evidence of the interrogation but did present evidence of the condition of the body. The trial court admitted the evidence, finding that the prosecution had shown by a preponderance of the evidence that the body would have been discovered without Williams’ help. Williams was convicted by a jury and sentenced to life in prison.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Burger, C.J.)

Concurrence (Stevens, J.)

Dissent (Brennan, J.)

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