District Court, Salt Lake Department The Honorable Randall N.
Skanchy No. 161903223
D. Reyes and Jeffrey S. Gray, Attorneys for Appellant
J. Carlquist, Scott A. Wilson, and Jesse M. Nix, Attorneys
David N. Mortensen authored this Opinion, in which Judges
Gregory K. Orme and Michele M. Christiansen Forster
Minutes before the stroke of midnight, Defendant Sergio
Briseno Medina sent a text message to his fiancée
telling her that he had to "take someone out." That
"someone" turned out to be Victim, who had been
selling drugs with Medina. Victim was found fatally stabbed
on the side of the road the next day. The ensuing
investigation led police to Medina. During an interview,
detectives read Medina his Miranda rights. Medina
invoked his right to counsel, but immediately after invoking,
Medina initiated a substantive conversation with the
detectives regarding the investigation, the circumstances
surrounding the murder, and the pending charges against him.
After the detectives told Medina that they had
"questions for [Medina] about [the murder]," Medina
then stated, "I'm gonna answer questions," and
demanded to know "what's going on" and,
"Why is it me . . . being targeted for something that I
wasn't even nearby." During the resulting
conversation, Medina made several incriminating statements.
The State charged Medina with murder and obstructing justice.
Medina moved to suppress his statements made during the
interview, arguing that his Miranda rights were
violated by the detectives' questioning without counsel
present. The district court granted Medina's motion and
the State appeals.
Several days before the murder, Medina texted his
fiancée (Fiancée) with instructions to call
Victim's cell phone and, when Victim answered, to
"ask [Victim] what it's going to be" and then
hang up. Fiancée was instructed to use *67 when she
dialed Victim's number so that Fiancée's
number would be blocked from Victim's view. Later that
night, Fiancée texted Medina back, informing him that
Victim "c[ould]n't give an answer." The next
day, Medina sent Fiancée another text informing her
that he had to "take someone out." Just forty
minutes later, he again texted Fiancée with
instructions to "call [Victim] again and tell her [that
she] didn't follow instruct[ions]."
On the night of the murder, Medina was picked up by a friend
(Friend) near the murder scene and spent the night at
Friend's house. Fiancée became worried about
Medina and called Friend to see if Friend knew of
Medina's whereabouts. Medina told Friend to assure
Fiancée that he was fine, but that Fiancée
should "keep an eye on the news."
The next morning, Fiancée sent Medina a text message
with a link to a news article reporting the discovery of
Victim's body, whom the police had not yet identified.
Fiancée concluded that the murder must have been what
Medina had been referring to the previous night. In the
afternoon, Medina met up with another friend (Witness).
Medina got into Witness's car and began telling Witness
that he killed Victim with his "baby," while
brandishing a blood-stained knife. Medina stated that he
stabbed Victim while she sat in her jeep, but that she ran
away from the car, so he had to run her over with the jeep
and stabbed her again. Medina told Witness "not to say a
word," and then threatened Witness by showing him a
tattoo on his arm, stating that "he had the tattoo for a
reason." Witness agreed to keep quiet and dropped Medina
off at yet another friend's house. Witness testified that
as he was leaving, he overheard Medina admit to the other
friend that Medina had killed Victim.
One day later, Medina called another contact (Lender) and
asked to borrow a couple thousand dollars and Lender's
truck so that Medina could drive to Colorado. Lender did not
immediately agree, and afterward, Medina sent Lender a text
message with a link to the news article reporting
Victim's death. After reading the article, Lender wrote
back, "[W]hat the hell is going on here" and,
"Did you do this?" Medina responded, "Ya
sabes." Lender did not allow Medina to borrow
money or take his truck to Colorado.
Instead, Medina convinced a different friend to drive him to
Rawlins, Wyoming, where Medina then caught a bus to Denver,
Colorado. He then received a text from Fiancée saying,
"I really hope you haven't t[a]ken off. That's
not fair." Medina texted her back several hours later
letting her know that he was in Colorado and that he
"needed to get out ASAP. You know how it is." He
then said, "[I]f anyone asks, I've been missing, you
haven't heard, [about Victim]."
The police investigation led police to Medina in Denver. A
search of Medina's and Victim's cell phone records
established that Medina was in the vicinity of Victim's
body and her jeep around the time of the murder; a search of
the jeep uncovered Medina's fingerprints on the outside
of the jeep and Victim's blood on the interior. Medina
was arrested and brought into a Denver police station for
Prior to any questioning, the detectives (the Detectives)
read Medina his Miranda rights, whereupon Medina
invoked his right to counsel. The conversation ensued as
The Detectives: Okay well just so you're aware we just
wanna make sure that you are aware of your rights okay you
still have those (inaudible) and you wanna find out and you
wanna have a discussion with us and we wanna make sure you
know your rights okay?
D: So you do know you have the right to remain silent.
Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court
of law. You have the right to have an attorney present with
you while you're being questioned. If you can't
afford to hire one, one will be appointed to represent you
before any questioning if you wish. Okay?
M: Can I have an attorney present then?
D: So . . . and if you . . . so you're saying you
don't wanna talk to us without your attorney present?
M: Well ya the thing is I don't know what's going on.
I wanna know what's going on.
M: Why is it that my sister[']s door gets kicked in . . .
I've got an officer asking if I got my hands . . . if I
have an injury on my hands and they're checking my hands
and I was like no what's goin on . . . Does he have . . .
What injury are you talking about . . . What's going on.
You know what I mean? I'm only here tryin (inaudible)
cause I wanna lay off the meth cause I was consumin
(inaudible) all this goin on and I was like what's goin
on. My sister's mad at me right and doesn't want to
talk to me because the same situation.
D: Is it what happened with her . . .
M: Ya I mean come on wouldn't you be mad?
D: Sure. I'd be frustrated absolutely and that's . .
. We can have a discussion about that absolutely.
M: And that's why I'm like okay what's goin on. I
got people callin me hey there's a homicide or something
. . . What are you ...