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State v. Rivera-Longoria

Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division, Department C

October 29, 2013


Not for Publication -Rule 111, Rules of the Arizona Supreme Court

Appeal from the Superior Court of Coconino County Cause No. S0300CR201200059 The Honorable Dan R. Slayton, Judge

Thomas C. Horne, Arizona Attorney General Phoenix By Joseph T. Maziarz, Chief Counsel Criminal Appeals/Capital Litigation Section Linley Wilson, Assistant Attorney General Attorneys for Appellee

David Goldberg, Fort Attorney for Appellant Collins



¶1 Martin Rivera-Longoria (defendant) was convicted by a jury of six counts of child abuse and sentenced by the trial court to consecutive prison terms totaling 101 years. The convictions stem from defendant's conduct in causing injury to his girlfriend's ten-month-old daughter, AC, and the endangering of two other daughters, YC and CC, ages two and four, respectively. On appeal, defendant argues that error occurred in the admission of evidence and that the evidence was insufficient to support four of the six convictions. We affirm.


A. Motion to Suppress

¶2 Defendant contends that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress statements he made to the police both before and after he was advised of the Miranda warnings. See Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). Defendant argues that he was in custody when he was questioned prior to being advised of his rights and that the police failed to honor his invocation of his right to remain silent. We review the trial court's denial of a motion to suppress for an abuse of discretion, deferring to its factual findings but considering de novo its legal conclusions. State v. Zamora, 220 Ariz. 63, 67, ¶ 7, 202 P.3d 528, 532 (App. 2009).

¶3 On the evening of February 14, 2008, defendant and his girlfriend BC appeared at a Flagstaff hospital emergency room seeking medical attention for AC. Upon their arrival at the hospital, BC informed a nurse that AC was not breathing. AC was rushed to a trauma bay where resuscitation efforts were ultimately successful. A police officer who was present on an unrelated matter noticed the commotion and learned that AC exhibited signs of abuse. As part of the ensuing investigation, defendant and BC were transported from the hospital to the police station for interviews.

¶4 The detective who interviewed defendant at the police station placed defendant under arrest at the conclusion of the interview. The following morning, another detective contacted defendant at the jail and conducted a second interview. Defendant was questioned a third time approximately seven months later as he was being transported back to Flagstaff from a federal facility.

¶5 Prior to trial, defendant moved to suppress all of his statements to the police. The trial court granted the motion with respect to statements made by defendant while being transported from the federal facility, but denied the motion with respect to statements he made during the first two interviews.

1. Absence of Miranda Rights

¶6 Defendant argues that the trial court erred in not suppressing his statements during the interview at the police station because he was not advised of the Miranda warnings prior to questioning. The trial court ruled that defendant was not entitled to have the statements suppressed because he was not subjected to custodial interrogation at the police station.

¶7 To protect a suspect "from the 'inherently compelling pressures' of custodial interrogation, " police must first warn an individual in custody of his Fifth Amendment rights to remain silent and to the presence of an attorney before initiating interrogation. Maryland v. Shatzer, 559 U.S. 98, 103-04 (2010) (quoting Miranda, 384 U.S. at 444, 467). The Miranda warnings are required, however, only when a person is subjected to custodial interrogation. J.D.B. v. North Carolina, 131 S.Ct. 2394, 2402 (2011) . "Police are free to ask questions of a person who is not in custody without having to give the person any warnings under Miranda." Zamora, 220 Ariz. at 67, 9, 202 P.3d at 532.

¶8 An individual is in custody for Miranda purposes if, in light of all the circumstances, "there [was] a 'formal arrest or restraint on freedom of movement' of the degree associated with a formal arrest." Stansbury v. California, 511 U.S. 318, 322 (1994) (quoting California v. Beheler, 463 U.S. 1121, 1125 (1983) (per curiam)). This test assesses "the objective circumstances of the interrogation, not . . . the subjective views harbored by either the interrogating officers or the person being questioned, " id. at 323, to determine whether "the police conduct would 'have communicated to a reasonable person that he was not at liberty to ignore the police presence and go about his business.'" Zamora, 220 Ariz. at 68, ¶ 10, 202 P.3d at 533 (quoting State v. Wyman, 197 Ariz. 13, ¶ 7, 3 P.3d 392, 395 (App. 2000)). Relevant factors include "the site of the questioning; whether objective indicia of arrest are present; and the length and form of the interrogation." State v. Cruz– Mata, 138 Ariz. 370, 373, 674 P.2d 1368, 1371 (1983).

¶9 The testimony presented at the hearing on the motion to suppress supports the trial court's findings that defendant was not in custody when questioned at the station. See State v. Newell, 212 Ariz. 389, 396, ¶ 22, 132 P.3d 833, 840 (2006) (holding review of ruling on motion to suppress is solely based on evidence at suppression hearing). Contrary to defendant's contention, he was asked, not ordered, to go with the police to the station to answer questions, and he did so voluntarily. Moreover, there were no indicia of arrest during either his transport to the station or his questioning at the station. At no time was there any use of force, express or implied, by the police, nor was defendant ever handcuffed or told he was under arrest until after the interview was concluded. Although the interview occurred at the police station, that fact alone does ...

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