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United States v. Sandoval


January 5, 2010



On November 13, 2009, the Court held an evidentiary hearing on defendant Ismael Gines Sandoval's motion to suppress his post-Miranda statements made during two separate interviews on July 8, 2008, and July 9, 2008, respectively, with Tehama County Sheriff's Detective David Hencratt in which Sandoval incriminated himself in connection with a marijuana garden on the Mendocino National Forest. Assistant United States Attorney Samuel Wong represented the United States. Assistant Federal Defender Lauren Cusick represented Sandoval.

Sandoval's July 8, 2008 Post-Arrest Statement

At the evidentiary hearing, Salem, Oregon, Police Detective Eric Moffett testified that, on June 6, 2007, -- about thirteen months before Sandoval's arrest in the instant case -- he encountered Sandoval, who was then using the alias David Garcia Calderon*fn1 , in connection with a methamphetamine trafficking investigation. Moffett testified that he could competently read a Miranda warning card written in the Spanish language. Moffett testified that during the encounter, Moffett read to Sandoval, along with three other Spanish-speaking suspects, a Spanish language Miranda warning card. Moffett gave the card to Sandoval to confirm in Sandoval's own writing that he understood the Spanish language Miranda rights. Sandoval acknowledged understanding his rights by signing his alias "David Garcia Calderon" on the back of the Miranda card. During that interview, Sandoval lied and claimed that he was a juvenile.

Salem Police Officer Ryan Morris testified at the evidentiary hearing that six days later, on June 12, 2007, Sandoval had a second encounter with the Salem Police Department in connection with a shoplifting incident at a Macy's Department Store. Sandoval, who again was using the alias David Garcia Calderon*fn2 , was detained by a Macy's security officer until interviewed by Officer Morris. Both Officer Morris and Macy's employee Mary DeLeon testified during the shoplifting investigation, Ms. DeLeon, who is a bilingual Spanish/English speaker, read to Sandoval a Spanish language Miranda warning card. Both Morris and DeLeon testified Sandoval again acknowledged understanding his rights by signing his alias "David Garcia Calderon" on the back of the Miranda card. During the interview, Sandoval again lied and claimed that he was a juvenile.

Tehama County Sheriff's Detective David Hencratt testified that on July 8, 2007, he participated in the arrest of Sandoval, who was armed with a rifle, at water intake placed into Digger Creek for a waterline to a marijuana garden. Hencratt testified as part of the arrest process, Hencratt and Deputy Rich Ryan announced their presence as police in Spanish and English and ordered Sandoval put his hands up. Sandoval did not comply and held onto his rifle. Ryan released the dog which ran to Sandoval and bit him in the left pocket/thigh area. Upon receiving the dog bite, Sandoval dropped his rifle. Hencratt and Ryan then arrested Sandoval.

Hencratt testified that he attended to Sandoval's dog bite first before interviewing Sandoval about the marijuana garden.

Hencratt testified that he interviewed Sandoval in Spanish after reading to Sandoval his Miranda rights. Hencratt explained that he has received sufficient Spanish language training to allow him to competently read a Spanish language Miranda warning card and communicate in Spanish on a basic working level. Hencratt testified he read to Sandoval in Spanish the Miranda rights listed on Hencratt's Miranda card. Hencratt testified as he read each right, followed by the question "Estude entiende?" meaning "Do you understand?", Sandoval acknowledged understanding each of his Miranda rights by responding "Si" or "Yes".

The testimony and evidence offered by the United States at the hearing was convincing and uncontroverted. Based on these facts, the Court finds that: Sandoval was aware of his Miranda rights based on his two encounters with the Salem Police on June 6, 2007, and June 12, 2007; and (2) Hencratt properly advised Sandoval of his Miranda rights, which Sandoval waived by answering Hencratt's limited questions at the place of Sandoval's arrest on July 8, 2008. Therefore, Sandoval's motion to suppress his post-arrest statements made on July 8, 2008, is denied.

Sandoval's July 9, 2009, Post-Arrest Statement

Detective Hencratt testified that before Sandoval's arrest his law enforcement team observed Sandoval and at least two other workers in the marijuana garden. In Sandoval's July 8, 2008, post-arrest statement, he reported that there were three additional workers, armed with at least one rifle and possibly a pistol, in the marijuana garden. According to Hencratt, the terrain leading out of the area to the nearest road was very steep and provided little cover, and walking out with a prisoner to the nearest road would expose the team to sniper fire from the unapprehended armed suspects. Hencratt testified that the six members of the law enforcement team kept Sandoval overnight in the area of the marijuana garden. Hencratt decided on this course of action in an attempt to arrest the three additional suspects rather than split the team and remove Sandoval from the area because the suspects at large posed a danger to the public and the officers in the event that the officers attempted to walk Sandoval out of the area.

Hencratt testified that, on the morning of July 9, 2008, Sandoval was extracted from the marijuana garden by helicopter at approximately 8:30 a.m. to a landing zone near a road. From that point, other deputies transported Sandoval by motor vehicle to Saint Elizabeth Community Hospital in Red Bluff for examination of the dog bite wound. Sandoval was treated by the hospital staff that morning, released back to the officers, and transported back to the Tehama County Jail.

At approximately 2:00 p.m., Detective Hencratt with the aid of Sheriff's Service Officer Espinoza, who is bilingual in Spanish and English, interviewed Sandoval in detail. Prior to the interview, Espinoza read to Sandoval his Miranda rights from Hencratt's preprinted card to which Sandoval answered affirmatively, "Uh, huh" or "Si" meaning "Yes", and answered questions. As to this second interview, the Court finds that the interview took place outside the "six-hour safe harbor" allowed under F.R.Crim.P. 5(a)(1) and 18 U.S.C. § 3501(c) to conduct an interview after a suspect's arrest. The Court notes that at the time of the 2:00 p.m. interview, Sandoval could have been and should have been taken before a state judicial officer for an initial appearance on the charges for which he was arrested. Accordingly, the Court grants Sandoval's motion to suppress as to the July 9, 2009, post-arrest statements.

It is so ordered.

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