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State v. Filemon V.

Supreme Court of New Mexico

January 18, 2018

STATE OF NEW MEXICO, Plaintiff-Appellant,
FILEMON V., Defendant-Appellee.


          Hector H. Balderas, Attorney General Kenneth H. Stalter, Assistant Attorney General Santa Fe, NM for Appellant

          Bennett J. Baur, Chief Public Defender Jeffrey J. Buckels, Assistant Public Defender Santa Fe, NM for Appellee


          BARBARA J. VIGIL, Justice


         {1} In this case we reexamine a juvenile's right to be free from self-incrimination, as secured by the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution and the Basic Rights provision under the Delinquency Act of the Children's Code, NMSA 1978, Section 32A-2-14 (2009). The State appeals the suppression of two statements made by sixteen-year-old Filemon V.

         {2} Filemon made the first statement to his probation officers. We hold that, absent a valid waiver, Section 32A-2-14(C) precludes the admission of Filemon's statement to his probation officers while in investigatory detention. We affirm the district court's order suppressing the use of the statement in a subsequent prosecution.

         {3} The second contested statement was elicited by police officers at the Silver City Police Department. Filemon was at this point in custody, and entitled to be warned of his Miranda rights. At issue is whether the midstream Miranda warnings were sufficient to inform Filemon of his rights. We conclude that the warnings were insufficient under Missouri v. Seibert, 542 U.S. 600, 617 (2004). Because the statement was elicited in clear violation of the Fifth Amendment and Section 32A-2-14, we affirm the district court's suppression of the statement.


         {4} This case comes to this Court on interlocutory appeal from the Sixth Judicial District Court. Pursuant to Rule 12-201(A)(1)(a) NMRA, the State appeals the district court's order to suppress two statements, one elicited at the juvenile probation office and the other at the Silver City Police Department.

         {5} Filemon was on probation for committing a delinquent act and expected to come to the probation office to pick up a travel permit. Filemon arrived at the probation office with his mother and stepfather. When he entered the lobby, Supervisor Rachel Medina greeted Filemon and asked if he was there to pick up the travel permit. Filemon responded that he "just shot Chugie and Eric."[1] Supervisor Medina asked what Filemon was talking about, and Filemon's mother interjected, stating that he was there "to turn himself in." At that point, Filemon's probation officer, Cody McNiel, entered the lobby. Filemon again said that he was there to "turn[] himself in, " this time adding, "for murder, I guess."

         {6} Prior to Filemon's arrival, McNiel had been informed of a shooting and was helping to locate a potential suspect-Filemon's co-defendant in another case. Thus, McNiel knew what Filemon was talking about. McNiel told Filemon to "go ahead and come in and . . . we'll go to my office and . . . we'll discuss it."

         {7} McNiel escorted Filemon through a locked door and a hallway, to Supervisor Medina's office. McNiel shut the door. Filemon's parents told McNiel and Supervisor Medina that Filemon wanted to turn himself in to New Mexico State Police Officer Michael Dunn, because "that's who he trusts." McNiel stepped out and asked another probation officer to call the police, identifying Filemon as "the shooter."

         {8} Inside Supervisor Medina's office, McNiel asked if Filemon was there "to confess [to] the drive-by shooting." Filemon responded, "[I]t wasn't a drive-by." McNiel persisted, "[O]kay . . . why don't you go ahead and tell me the story then." Filemon responded with the first contested statement. McNiel continued to speak to Filemon until police arrived.

         {9} Supervisor Medina later testified that Filemon arrived at the probation office of his own volition, and neither she nor McNiel questioned Filemon. According to McNiel, however, McNiel "wanted to keep him talking until . . . law enforcement got there so that they could take him into custody." Filemon's mother "[did] most of the talking" and "Filemon said very little." Neither probation officer advised Filemon of his Miranda rights or his right to remain silent under Section 32A-2-14. See Javier M., 2001-NMSC-030, ¶ 41 (determining that Section 32A-2-14 requires a child to be warned of the right to remain silent during an investigatory detention).

         {10} Several police officers arrived at the probation office, including Officer Dunn and Sergeant Joseph Arredondo. Sergeant Arredondo had been present at the hospital with the victims prior to his dispatch and knew Filemon was a suspect. Supervisor Medina told at least one police officer what Filemon had said. According to Supervisor Medina, the parking lot of the juvenile probation office looked "like Christmas" due to the number of police units and flashing lights.

         {11} Sergeant Arredondo informed Filemon that "detectives needed to speak with him" and transported Filemon and his mother to the Silver City Police Department, where he turned Filemon over to Captain Javier Hernandez. Captain Hernandez met Filemon and his mother in the parking lot and asked if they would come inside. Captain Hernandez had been actively questioning an eyewitness to the shooting, and knew that the likely shooter was short, named "Fil, " and had a "peanut-shaped" head, which matched Filemon's appearance.

         {12} Seeing that the interview room was occupied with another suspect, Captain Hernandez took Filemon and his mother to his office. Captain Hernandez summoned the case agent assigned to the murder investigation, Detective Pat Castillo. Captain Hernandez later testified that he intended for Detective Castillo "to sit there and listen to what [Filemon] had to say because the other witness . . . wasn't cooperating with us." Captain Hernandez turned on his belt recorder and asked Filemon "how old he was" and "if he was going to tell me what happened today." Filemon responded, "What [do] you want to know?" Captain Hernandez answered, "Everything." Filemon proceeded to give a full statement.

         {13} At no time did Captain Hernandez advise Filemon of his constitutional rights. When asked why he did not advise Filemon of his constitutional rights, Captain Hernandez said, "I didn't really think about it. I wasn't sure what his involvement was . . . if he was the shooter or if he wasn't the shooter. I just wanted to see what information he had." Once he obtained Filemon's statement, Captain Hernandez told Filemon that he would be detained. The State concedes that the statement elicited by Captain Hernandez is inadmissible.

         {14} Captain Hernandez then asked Filemon to make a statement to Detective Castillo. Detective Castillo took Filemon and his mother to the interview room, where he read Filemon his Miranda warnings. Before continuing the interview, Detective Castillo told Filemon that he was "finishing up." Detective Castillo characterized the Miranda warnings as a "formality, " and instructed Filemon and his mother to sign the written waiver of rights, which they did. Detective Castillo explained that their conversation would "go the same way" as the conversation with Captain Hernandez, but in greater detail. Detective Castillo did not inform Filemon that the statement he had just given to Captain Hernandez would ...

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