The opinion of the court was delivered by: CHARLES BREYER, District Judge
Petitioner Anthony Holguin, a mentally retarded 17-year old
boy, was convicted of first degree murder after a jury trial.
There was no physical evidence linking him to the crime; instead,
he was convicted primarily on the basis of his multiple
confessions and one eyewitness. He seeks a Writ of Habeas Corpus
on the grounds that his rights to Miranda warnings and
effective assistance of counsel were violated.
At about 6:40 p.m. on March 14, 2000, Eric Inzunza was shot and
killed in Salinas, California. Inzunza was a student at Alisal
High School. There were three witnesses to the murder who
identified the shooter as short and thin and wearing a white
49ers sweatshirt and a red baseball cap. Two of the witnesses
claimed they saw the shooter get into a blue Honda after the
shooting. Holguin was a 17-year old special education student at Alisal
High School when the crime occurred. Holguin is mildly to
moderately mentally retarded and has an IQ between 47 and 65. He
cannot read or write, but can copy letters. Although Holguin
tried to socialize with other students, he was only marginally
George Martinez, the campus security guard supervisor at Alisal
High School, saw Holguin at the scene of the murder at about 7:00
or 7:30 p.m. the evening of the shooting. Holguin was not wearing
clothes that matched the description of the shooter.
A. The Pre-Miranda Statements
The day after the shooting, March 15, Holguin was suspended
from school. The Vice-Principal, Bernardo Munro ("Munro"),
specifically told Holguin that he could not come to school the
next day, even to work in the cafeteria. Munro took extra time
explaining the suspension to Holguin because he knew Holguin was
a special education student.
The next day, around lunchtime, Munro heard on his radio that
Holguin had returned to campus. Munro instructed a school
official to bring Holguin to Munro's office. On Munro's way to
his office he met up with campus police officer Gilbert Bacis.
Munro and Officer Bacis took Holguin to Munro's office. Munro
talked to Holguin about his trespassing (a student who returns to
school while on suspension is guilty of trespassing). After
Holguin agreed that he had been trespassing, Munro left Officer
Bacis with Holguin to either cite him for trespassing or release
him. According to Munro, Holguin was not free to leave the office
at this time.
As Officer Bacis was talking to Holguin, he believed
(mistakenly) that Holguin's clothing and build matched the
description of Eric Inzunza's shooter. He asked Holguin if
Holguin had done the shooting, and Holguin responded by shrugging
his shoulders. Officer Bacis knew that the detectives
investigating the murder were coming to the school sometime
before lunch. He told Holguin that the detectives might want to
talk to him, and then stepped outside Monro's office to telephone
Detectives Craig Carmena and Gerry Davis arrived at Munro's
office a few moments later. Officer Carmena walked into the
office and overheard Holguin telling Officer Bacis that he (Holguin) had a beef with Eric Inzunza. Officer Carmena
immediately asked Holguin why he shot the victim even though
Holguin had not said that he had been involved in the shooting.
Holguin responded: "I did what I had to do." Officer Carmena then
asked his partner to retrieve a tape recorder.
After obtaining the tape recorder, the police officers
questioned Holguin in Munro's office about the shooting for
approximately 15 minutes. They did not read Holguin his Miranda
rights, nor attempt to contact his mother. Nor did they ever
advise Holguin that he was free to leave. Holguin admitted to
shooting Inzunza. He stated that Inzunza "was the wrong color I
guess. The way I heard it that he had a blue sweater on and a
blue cap, a blue beanie." After initially refusing to say why he
killed Inzunza, Holguin then stated, "I didn't wanna do it, but I
had to." "I just shot him because, ah, you know I wanted to and I
had to, you know." He said he used a .22 gun. Holguin said that
he shot Inzunza "in the stomach."
After initially saying he did not know where the gun was,
Holguin then stated that he would go by himself to get it. Then,
after telling the officers that his homies would have already
taken the gun away, he agreed to show police officers where he
put the gun. The detectives then took Holguin, by patrol car, to
the creek where Holguin had told them that he hid the murder
weapon. After looking around the creek, no weapon was found.
B. The Post-Miranda Statements
Holguin was placed under arrest and read his Miranda rights.
The officers recorded an interview of Holguin in the patrol car.
They then brought Holguin to the police station, where he was
again read his Miranda rights and was interviewed on videotape.
The same day Holguin confessed, a witness identified Holguin as
the shooter when showed a photo lineup by police. The witness
testified that he saw a newspaper picture of Holguin subsequent
to the lineup that strengthened his certainty. The witness said
that he was struck by a mark on one of Holguin's eyebrows, and
said that he had "no doubt" that Holguin was the killer.
The police never found any physical evidence linking Holguin to
the shooting. PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Holguin was charged with first degree murder. Prior to trial
his counsel moved to suppress his statements made to police both
before and after he was read his Miranda rights. On the day
of the hearing, however, counsel withdrew the motion regarding
suppression of post-Miranda statements. After the evidentiary
hearing on the pre-Miranda statements, the trial court denied
the motion on the ground that Holguin was not in custody at the
time the officers questioned him. A jury found Holguin guilty of
first degree murder and of using a firearm during the commission
of the murder. The trial court sentenced Holguin to 50 years to
On direct appeal, Holguin argued, among other things, that (1)
the trial court erred by admitting his pre-Miranda statements,
and (2) he was deprived of effective assistance of counsel when
his counsel failed to challenge the admissibility of his
post-Miranda statements as involuntarily made. The California
Court of Appeal affirmed the conviction.
With respect to the Miranda violation, the court held:
Here defendant was not under formal arrest at the
time of his statements. He was engaged in a
discussion about trespassing, which was not an
unfamiliar situation. He was not handcuffed. Though
the detention in the office lasted about 20 minutes,
the questioning occurred while the door remained open
and a secretary continued working. Defendant then
agreed to show the officers where the gun was
located. Defendant chose to ride with Bacis and was
allowed to move freely about at the creek before he
was arrested. There was no evidence that the demeanor
of the officers was overbearing or that their
questions were confrontational or accusatory at any
time. Accordingly, considering the totality of
circumstances, we agree with ...