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State v. Young

Court of Appeals of Utah

April 26, 2018

State of Utah, Appellee,
v.
Christopher Young, Appellant.

          Fifth District Court, Cedar City Department The Honorable Keith C. Barnes No. 141500275

          Dale W. Sessions, Attorney for Appellant

          Sean D. Reyes and Jeffrey D. Mann, Attorneys for Appellee

          Judge Michele M. Christiansen authored this Opinion, in which Judges Jill M. Pohlman and Diana Hagen concurred.

          CHRISTIANSEN, Judge

         ¶1 During an interview with police, Defendant Christopher Young confessed to sexually abusing Victim. The State charged Defendant with three counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child, three counts of sodomy on a child, and one count of rape of a child, all first degree felonies. Before trial, Defendant filed a motion to suppress his confession, which the trial court denied.

         ¶2 A jury convicted Defendant as charged, and the trial court sentenced him to fifteen years to life on each of the three aggravated sexual abuse of a child counts, twenty-five years to life on each of the three sodomy on a child counts, and twenty-five years to life on the rape count. The court ordered that the sexual abuse sentences run concurrent with each other, that the sodomy sentences run concurrent with each other but consecutively to the sexual abuse sentences, and that the rape sentence run consecutively to the sexual abuse and sodomy sentences. Defendant contends that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress and abused its discretion in sentencing him to consecutive sentences. We affirm.

         BACKGROUND

         ¶3 In April 2014, officers with the Cedar City Police Department transported Defendant to the police station, where a detective interviewed Defendant regarding allegations that he had sexually abused Victim over the course of several years. According to Defendant, when he was initially approached by the police officers, they told him that "there was something wrong with [his] family and to come with them."

         ¶4 The interview began at 9:26 a.m. and was recorded by audio and video. The detective began the interview by assuring Defendant that his family was safe. The detective told Defendant, "First of all, [the officer] said you were worried. So I want to let you know, your family is safe." Defendant replied, "Okay." The detective repeated that Defendant's family was "okay" and told Defendant that he could "relax, [and] put [his] mind at ease in that regard."

         ¶5 The detective then gave Defendant a written waiver of rights form, which set forth Defendant's Miranda rights.[1] See generally Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). The detective asked Defendant to look over the form, and Defendant read and signed the form. The detective asked Defendant, "You understand each of those parts of that, fully?" Defendant replied, "Yes."

         ¶6 The detective began his questioning by asking Defendant about his family and work situation. When talking about his work, Defendant mentioned that he had worked from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. the previous night, and he once stated that he was "[v]ery tired." Approximately twenty minutes into the interview, Defendant confessed to lying naked in bed with Victim, and he thereafter confessed to several other instances of sexual abuse. The interview lasted approximately two hours and included several breaks.

          ¶7 The State charged Defendant with three counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child, three counts of sodomy on a child, and one count of rape of a child, all first degree felonies. Before trial, Defendant moved to suppress his confession on the ground that it was involuntary, and he requested an evidentiary hearing. The parties stipulated to allow the trial court to review the video recording of Defendant's interview before the hearing.

         ¶8 Both the detective and Defendant testified at the hearing. Following the hearing, Defendant filed a memorandum in support of his motion. Defendant set forth six facts and cited several cases discussing the voluntariness of confessions; however, he failed to explain with any specificity why his confession was involuntary. The trial court concluded that Defendant's confession had been voluntarily made and denied Defendant's motion to suppress. The court determined that Defendant had voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently waived his Miranda rights, that the detective had "clearly explained that [Defendant's] family was safe and okay prior to the conversation concerning the waiver of [Defendant's] rights, " and that "[t]he facts do not support [the detective] using deception, physical abuse, threats, promises, or deprivation of food, medical treatment, or sleep to coerce [Defendant's] confession."

         ¶9 A jury convicted Defendant as charged, and the trial court ordered Defendant to cooperate with Adult Probation and Parole in completing a presentence investigation report (the PSI Report). The PSI Report contained information about Defendant, such as his life history, criminal history, rehabilitative needs, education, and employment. The PSI Report recommended that Defendant be sentenced to a term of twenty-five years to life for each of the three sodomy on a child counts and for the rape of a child count, and fifteen years to life for each of the three sexual abuse of a child counts. It did not include a recommendation regarding whether Defendant's sentences should run concurrently or consecutively. The PSI Report also recommended that Defendant be ordered to pay a $10, 000 fine for each of the sodomy and sexual abuse counts and $2, 139.49 of restitution to Victim for her treatment costs.

         ¶10 At sentencing, Victim's mother read a letter from Victim and also addressed the court herself. The State briefly discussed the negative impact Defendant's actions had had on Victim and requested that the court "run at least two of those charges consecutively with one . . . another." Defendant's trial counsel discussed Defendant's "lack of criminal history" and the fact that, before Defendant was arrested, he was "hard-working and helped support his family." Trial counsel asked "that the Court run these matters concurrently . . . with each other." Defendant also addressed the court, expressing remorse for his actions.

         ¶11 The trial court sentenced Defendant to fifteen years to life on each of the three aggravated sexual abuse of a child counts, twenty-five years to life on each of the three sodomy on a child counts, and twenty-five years to life on the rape count. The court ordered that the sexual abuse sentences run concurrent with each other, that the sodomy sentences run concurrent with each other but consecutively to the sexual abuse sentences, and that the rape sentence run consecutively to the sexual abuse and sodomy sentences. In ...


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