There are people who believe that Ernesto Arturo Miranda was murdered in a setup by angry cops out for retribution, because he's the reason they have to read you your Miranda rights every time they bust you. Still others think Miranda's death in a knife fight in a seedy Phoenix bar was a grisly fait accompli.
Born in Mesa in 1941, Miranda was trouble from the word "go." His first criminal conviction came in the eighth grade. By the following year, he'd been booked on burglary charges and sent to reform school. Later, after his release, Miranda served time in Los Angeles for various petty crimes and was extradited to Arizona once he was free.
On March 13, 1963, Miranda was hauled into a Phoenix station house on rape and kidnapping charges, having been positively identified by victim Lois Ann Jameson. After two hours of investigation, during which time he was never informed of his rights, Miranda confessed to the crimes.
Sentenced to 20 to 30 years on both charges, Miranda appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court in June 1965. The American Civil Liberties Union and attorneys from the law firm Lewis and Roca represented Miranda, arguing that his Fifth Amendment rights — to remain silent and not to incriminate himself — had been violated.
He won the appeal but lost a retrial and, based on evidence against him, went to prison anyway. Still, his victory was the mandatory reading of rights ("You have the right to remain silent. If you give up the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law . . .") by every arresting police officer in the country.
Paroled in 1972, the ex-con made his living selling autographed Miranda warning cards for $1.50 and got busted a bunch more times. After being released from what would be his last prison sentence, Miranda was killed in that knife fight. His murderer has never been positively identified. The lead suspect, a Mexican national named Eseziquiel Moreno, supposedly headed back to Tijuana and escaped prosecution.
According to legend, Miranda's pockets were stuffed with autographed Miranda Rights cards on the night he died.