United States District Court, D. New Mexico
PROPOSED FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDED
HONORABLE CARMEN E. GARZA, CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE
MATTER is before the Court on Defendant Jade Tiffany
Laurezo's Motion to Suppress Statements, (Doc.
27), filed November 27, 2018, and the United States'
Response to Defendant's Motion to Suppress
Statements, (Doc. 34), filed December 18, 2018. On
December 19, 2018, United States District Judge Kenneth J.
Gonzales referred this matter to the undersigned to make
findings of fact, conduct legal analysis, and recommend an
ultimate disposition. (Doc. 35). On February 12 and 13, 2019,
the Court held an evidentiary hearing. (Doc. 49); (Doc. 50);
(Doc. 51). Following the hearing, both Ms. Laurezo and the
Government submitted proposed findings of fact and
conclusions of law. (Doc. 56); (Doc. 58).
considering the parties' filings, the record, and the
relevant law, the Court RECOMMENDS that Ms.
Laurezo's Motion to Suppress Statements, (Doc.
27), be DENIED.
Statement of Facts
Ms. Laurezo's Background & Relationship with Dain
Laurezo is a native of the Philippines and speaks two native
Filipino languages, Tagalog and Karay-a. (Doc. 56 at 1). She
also speaks “broken” English and at times she has
trouble expressing herself. Id. Ms. Laurezo has a
bachelor's degree in avionics technology from a
university in the Philippines and she was previously employed
as an aircraft mechanic instructor. (Doc. 50 at 52); (Doc. 58
at 13). Prior to the commencement of the criminal
investigation underlying this case, Ms. Laurezo had no
experience with the American criminal justice system. (Doc.
50 at 34); (Doc. 56 at 2).
early June 2017, Ms. Laurezo met Dain Adams, a United States
citizen, through an online dating application called Tinder.
(Doc. 50 at 7); (Doc. 58 at 2). In August 2017, Ms. Laurezo
travelled to the United States for a brief visit to meet Dain
Adams and his family. (Doc. 58 at 2). Between June
2017 and July 2018, the couple communicated regularly using
Viber, an internet messaging application. (Doc. 50 at 7-8);
(Doc. 58 at 2). Dain Adams and Ms. Laurezo sent
messages on Viber in English, with a few Tagalog words
“here and there.” (Doc. 50 at 8); (Doc. 58 at
March 2018, Ms. Laurezo returned to the United States to live
temporarily with Dain Adams and his parents, Donnie and
Marsha Roberson, at their home in Roswell, New Mexico. (Doc.
58 at 2-3). While in the United States, Ms. Laurezo studied
in pursuit of a Federal Aviation Administration certificate
to train aircraft maintenance personnel for U.S. based
customers. Id. at 10. Over the course of her
three-month visit, Ms. Laurezo developed a close relationship
with Dain Adams' parents and referred to Donnie Roberson
as “Dad” and Marsha Roberson as
“Mom.” (Doc. 50 at 44); (Doc. 58 at 3) (citing
Doc. 50 at 30-31) (as Donnie Roberson testified, “We
[the Robersons] welcomed her into our home whenever she and
my son developed a relationship. She was a part of our
The June 2018 Search and July 2018 Request for an
27, 2018, law enforcement officials from the Chaves County
Sheriff's Department executed a search warrant in
connection with a child pornography investigation being
conducted at the Roberson's 3809 Zinnia Road residence in
Roswell, New Mexico. (Doc. 51 at 25). Upon arrival, law
enforcement knocked and announced their presence and were met
at the front door by Marsha Roberson. (Doc. 58 at 2). Ms.
Laurezo and the Robersons were ordered to stand outside of
the residence while the officers conducted their search.
(Doc. 56 at 2). Eight law enforcement officers entered the
premises to execute the warrant, aiming their handguns and
assault rifles at Ms. Laurezo and the Robersons. (Doc. 50 at
24, 34); (Doc. 56 at 2). After seizing a number of
electronic devices, including Ms. Laurezo's Samsung DUOS
cellphone, the occupants were permitted to return inside.
Id. Before leaving, the officers confirmed that Dain
Adams lived at the residence but was not at home at the time
of the search. (Doc. 56 at 2); (Doc. 58 at 2).
3, 2018, Sergeant Hector Ramirez and Deputy Will Seely with
the Chaves County Sherriff's Department returned to the
3809 Zinnia Road residence to inquire if Ms. Laurezo would
consent to an interview with law enforcement officials at the
Sheriff's Department. (Doc. 50 at 23-24); (Doc. 56 at 2).
Ms. Laurezo recognized Deputy Seely as one of the law
enforcement officers who pointed a gun at her when the 3809
Zinnia Road residence was searched on June 27, 2018. (Doc. 50
at 37); (Doc. 56 at 2). When Deputy Seely and
Sergeant Ramirez returned to the 3809 Zinnia Road residence
in their police uniforms, Ms. Laurezo was afraid and did not
know what was happening. (Doc. 50 at 37-38); (Doc. 56 at
2). After conferring with Donnie Roberson, Ms.
Laurezo agreed to speak with law enforcement at the
Sheriff's Department. (Doc. 50 at 24); (Doc. 56 at
2). Although she was offered a ride by Deputy Seely,
Ms. Laurezo chose to drive separately with Donnie Roberson.
(Doc. 50 at 24-25); (Doc. 56 at 2-3).
confirming that Ms. Laurezo would meet them at the
Sheriff's Department, Sergeant Ramirez and Deputy Seely
waited outside for approximately 15 minutes in two separate
marked patrol units for Ms. Laurezo and Donnie Roberson to
leave the house. (Doc. 56 at 3); (Doc. 58 at 4). Ms. Laurezo
testified that before going to the Sheriff's Department,
she wanted to visit her neighbor's house to use the
telephone. (Doc. 50 at 39); (Doc. 56 at 2). Law enforcement
officials had seized all the electronic devices capable of
accessing the internet from the 3809 Zinnia Road residence,
leaving Ms. Laurezo unable to communicate with anyone outside
the residence. (Doc. 56 at 2); (Doc. 50 at 37-38) (Ms.
Laurezo testified, “[F]rom June 27th until that day, I
don't have contact with anybody, because I don't have
my phone with me. I don't have phones at home. And I
can't tell my family what happened about that day when I
was so afraid, when they pointed gun at me….”).
Despite her desire to use the telephone, Ms. Laurezo was
intimidated by the presence of law enforcement officers
waiting for her and she felt she had to immediately proceed
to the Sheriff's Department. (Doc. 56 at 2). She
ultimately decided to forego a visit to her neighbor's
home and instead proceeded directly to the Sheriff's
drove, Donnie Roberson took a number of turns that were
outside the direct route, in an attempt to see if law
enforcement would follow their vehicle. (Doc. 50 at 25);
(Doc. 56 at 2). Despite Donnie Roberson's choice
of route, Sergeant Ramirez followed the vehicle in his marked
patrol unit until Ms. Laurezo was dropped off at the
Sheriff's Department. Id. Donnie Roberson
testified that he thought if he did not drive to the
Sheriff's Department to deliver Ms. Laurezo, law
enforcement officials would have forced Ms. Laurezo to drive
with them. (Doc. 50 at 25).
The July 2018 Interview with Law Enforcement
to Ms. Laurezo's arrival at the Sheriff's Department,
Detective Valderaz contacted Supervisory Detention and
Deportation Officer Subia to determine whether criminal
charges would affect her visa status. (Doc. 58 at 3). When
she arrived, Ms. Laurezo was instructed to wait in the
receiving area. (Doc. 50 at 40); (Doc. 56 at 2). Sergeant
Ramirez then escorted Ms. Laurezo to an interview room in a
secure area of the building and closed the door. (Doc. 50 at
40-41). Shortly thereafter, immigration officials
entered the room and questioned Ms. Laurezo for fifteen to
twenty-five minutes, inquiring about the nature of her visit
to the United States. (Doc. 50 at 43); (Doc. 56 at
2). The immigration officials never read Ms. Laurezo
her Miranda rights and never explained their purpose
in questioning her. (Doc. 50 at 41-42); (Doc. 56 at 4); (Doc.
58 at 4). The officials never told Ms. Laurezo why she had
been called to the Sheriff's Department and proceeded to
ask personal questions about her family, marital status,
children, and criminal history. (Doc. 50 at 41-43); (Doc. 58
at 4). During the interview, Ms. Laurezo asked to use the
restroom and was accompanied by a uniformed law enforcement
official. (Doc. 50 at 48, 64-65); (Doc. 56 at 7).
her interview with the immigration officials, Ms. Laurezo was
escorted to another room in the Sheriff's Department
where Detective Valderaz and Sergeant Perham were seated
awaiting her arrival. (Doc. 50 at 43-44). Ms. Laurezo
recognized both Detective Valderaz and Sergeant Perham as two
of the men that had participated in the execution of the
search warrant and pointed a gun at her. Id.; (Doc.
56 at 4). Detective Valderaz and Sergeant Perham questioned
Ms. Laurezo for roughly one hour and forty minutes. (Doc. 56
at 7); (Doc. 58 at 11).
the interview, Ms. Laurezo expressed confusion about her
Miranda rights and the American criminal justice
system. (Doc. 50 at 45-47); (Doc. 56 at 4). After being
presented with the Advice of Rights form, Ms. Laurezo stated,
“I don't understand this. I-to be honest, I-I feel
like I don't know because-yeah. I think-what will be the
consequences if I talk to you is again?” (Doc. 56 at
6). When asked by Sergeant Perham, “Do you know what
your rights are while you're in this country, ” Ms.
Laurezo responded, “I'm here for a visit and to
take exams.” Id. at 5.
Laurezo later testified that she did not feel free to leave
and she did not understand the Advice of Rights form the
officers read to her. (Doc. 50 at 45-48); (Doc. 56 at 5). In
addition, Ms. Laurezo asked Detective Valderaz to explain the
meaning of the words “graduate” and
“rapport.” (Doc. 56 at 7). After the interview,
Ms. Laurezo stated she also did not understand the meaning of
the terms “court of law, ” “imprisonment,
” “trial, ” or “attorney.”
Id. at 5. When asked why she did not terminate the
interview or leave, she explained, “This is my first
time that I was in this situation. And in my country, if you
are - if the police - or you're in a room and you are
talking to a police, it's a sign of disrespect if you
stop or if you just leave. So at that time, I was waiting for
them to just say, ‘Okay. This is done. This is
over.'” (Doc. 50 at 47-48); (Doc. 56 at 7).
Ms. Laurezo signed a waiver relinquishing her
Miranda rights and agreed to talk with the
detectives. (Doc. 36-1 at 15-16). During the interview, Ms.
Laurezo made inculpatory remarks regarding video evidence
found on her Samsung DUOS cellphone. (Doc. 36-1 at 56,
70-77). At the close of the interview, Ms. Laurezo was placed
under arrest for possession of child pornography. (Doc. 36-1
October 17, 2018, a federal grand jury returned an indictment
charging Ms. Laurezo with one count of Production of Visual
Depictions of a Minor Engaging in Sexually Explicit Conduct,
in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2251(a), (e) and §
2256, and one count of Possession or Access with Intent to
View Visual Depictions of Minors Engaged in Sexually Explicit
Conduct, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252A(a)(5)(B),
(b)(2) and § 2256. (Doc. 20); (Doc. 21). At her
arraignment on November 6, 2018, Ms. Laurezo pled not guilty
to both counts and the case was assigned to the Honorable
Kenneth J. Gonzales. (Doc. 23). Shortly thereafter, on
November 27, 2018, Ms. Laurezo filed the present motion to
suppress her statements from the July 3, 2018, interview with
law enforcement. (Doc. 27).
Laurezo argues that her statements made to law enforcement
officers on July 3, 2018, should be suppressed because she
was subjected to a custodial interrogation and she did not
voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently waive her
Miranda rights. (Doc. 27 at 2-5). In response, the
Government alleges Ms. Laurezo was not in custody during the
interview, and as such her statements are not protected by
the Fifth Amendment. (Doc. 34 at 4-6). Even if she was in
custody, the Government argues, Ms. Laurezo knowingly,
voluntarily, and intelligently forfeited her Miranda
rights and chose to speak with law enforcement. (Doc. 34 at
inculpatory statements to be suppressed, the defendant must
demonstrate that her Fifth Amendment rights have been
violated. Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 460-61
(1966). The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution
protects an individual from being “compelled in any
criminal case to be a witness against himself.” U.S.
Const. Amend. V. This protection is afforded to all
individuals when they are subject to custodial interrogation.
Miranda, 384 U.S. at 444. An individual is “in
custody” if they are “under formal arrest”
or have their ...