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State v. Medina

Court of Appeals of Utah

March 28, 2019

State of Utah, Appellant,
Sergio Briseno Medina, Appellee.

          Third District Court, Salt Lake Department The Honorable Randall N. Skanchy

          Sean D. Reyes and Jeffrey S. Gray, Attorneys for Appellant

          Sarah J. Carlquist, Scott A. Wilson, and Jesse M. Nix, Attorneys for Appellee

          JUDGE DAVID N. MORTENSEN authored this Opinion, in which JUDGES GREGORY K. ORME and MICHELE M. CHRISTIANSEN FORSTER concurred.

          AMENDED OPINION [1]


         ¶1 Because this case comes to us on interlocutory appeal, the following facts and allegations remain undetermined. "On interlocutory review, we recount the facts as alleged and in a light most favorable to the ruling below." State v. Stewart, 2018

         UT 24, ¶ 2 n.1 (cleaned up). A woman (Victim) was found fatally stabbed on the side of a road. The ensuing investigation led police to Sergio Briseno Medina. During an interview, detectives (Detectives) read Medina his Miranda rights.[2] 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 [him] about [the murder]," Medina stated, "I'm gonna answer questions," and he demanded to know "what's going on" and "[w]hy is it me . . . being targeted for something that I wasn't even nearby." During the resulting conversation, Medina made several incriminating statements. Three days later, the Detectives, after confirming that Medina understood he could have an attorney present, interviewed him a second time. The State charged Medina with murder and obstructing justice. Medina moved to suppress his statements made during the interviews, 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.

         ¶2 We reverse.


         The Interviews

         ¶3 Medina was in Denver, Colorado when law enforcement located him. A search of Medina's and Victim's cell phone records had 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 questioning.

         ¶4 Prior to any questioning, the Detectives read Medina his Miranda rights, whereupon Medina invoked his right to counsel. The conversation ensued as follows:

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?
Medina: Ya.
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.
D: Okay.
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 guys talkin about, you know what I mean?
D: Sure.
M: And that's what I wanna know what's going on it's like . . . I'm trippin out because that stuff you don't play around with.
D: Right.
M: You don't joke around with. That's not a joke so all I wanna ask you is what's going on here please. I'm gonna answer questions, but at the same time I don't want to get ...

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