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Fabian Rodriguez v. M. Martel

February 4, 2011

FABIAN RODRIGUEZ, PETITIONER,
v.
M. MARTEL, RESPONDENT.



FINDINGS & RECOMMENDATIONS

Petitioner is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner challenges a judgment of conviction entered against him on September 20, 2007 in the Sacramento County Superior Court on charges of second degree murder with the use of a knife. He seeks federal habeas relief on the grounds that his federal constitutional rights were violated by the admission into evidence of his statements to police. Upon careful consideration of the record and the applicable law, the undersigned will recommend that petitioner's application for habeas corpus relief be denied.

PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND In its unpublished memorandum and opinion affirming petitioner's judgment of conviction on appeal*fn1 , the California Court of Appeal for the Third Appellate District provided the following procedural and factual summary:

Defendant Fabian Rodriguez was found guilty by a jury of second degree murder and was found to have personally used a dangerous or deadly weapon in the commission of the offense. Defendant was sentenced to state prison for a term of 15 years to life, with a consecutive term of one year for use of a dangerous or deadly weapon.

Defendant appeals, contending his confession was taken in violation of Miranda v. Arizona (1966) 384 U.S. 436 [16 L. Ed.2d 694] (Miranda) and was not voluntary. We shall affirm. FACTUAL BACKGROUND The victim and his cousin allowed defendant to stay at their apartment for a few days after he reported he had been "kicked out" of his residence. Two days later, when the cousin returned to the apartment after staying with his girlfriend, he found defendant and the victim angry at each other and very drunk. The cousin took the keys to the apartment from defendant and told the victim that it was his responsibility to tell defendant "that he needs to get out." The cousin went to his girlfriend's house, and when he returned the following morning, he found the victim dead in a bedroom. Defendant was arrested several days later.

Defendant was interviewed by Sheriff's Detective Kenneth Clark, with the assistance of another detective (Detective Salvador Robles) to provide English-Spanish translation. A third detective (Detective Grant Stomsvik) was also present. Defendant was shackled during the first portion of the interview.

Detective Kenneth Clark began by obtaining some background information from defendant. He then asked defendant if he was thirsty and, when defendant said he was, the detectives left and returned with a cup of water. Detective Clark asked some additional background questions, during which defendant disclosed that he had a second grade education and did not know what month he was born. Later in the interview, defendant divulged that he did not know how to write.

Defendant was asked how he felt, and he replied, "normal." He said he slept the night before and ate the previous morning. He said he was not under a doctor's care, took no medications or illegal drugs and had not had any alcohol for several days. Then, the following exchange took place: "DET[ECTIVE] CLARK: Okay. Okay. Tell him I'm gonna, uh-uh, read him his Miranda. "DET[ECTIVE] ROBLES [in Spanish]: He's going -- he's going to read you your Miranda rights, okay? "[DEFENDANT]: Uh-huh. "DET[ECTIVE] CLARK: And we just translate verbatim. You have the right to remain silent. "DET[ECTIVE] ROBLES [in Spanish]: You have the right not to say anything. "DET[ECTIVE] CLARK: Do you understand? "DET[ECTIVE] ROBLES [in Spanish]: Do you understand that? "[DEFENDANT]: What do you mean?*fn2 "DE[TECTIVE] ROBLES [in Spanish]: That you have the right not to say anything. "[DEFENDANT] [in Spanish]: Yes. "DET[ECTIVE] ROBLES [in Spanish]: Do you understand that? "DET[ECTIVE] ROBLES [in English to Detective Clark]: Yes. "DET[ECTIVE] CLARK: Anything you say may be used against you in court. "DET[ECTIVE] ROBLES [in Spanish]: Any -- anything that you say can be used against you in a court of law. Do you understand that? "[DEFENDANT]: Uh-huh. "DET[ECTIVE] ROBLES [in English to Detective Clark]: Yes. "DET[ECTIVE] CLARK: You have the right to the presence of an attorney before and during any questioning. Do you understand?

"DET[ECTIVE] ROBLES [in Spanish]: You have the right to have an attorney present before and during any questioning. Do you understand that? "[DEFENDANT]: Uh-huh. "DET[ECTIVE] CLARK: If you cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed for you free of charge before any questioning if you want. "DET[ECTIVE] ROBLES [in Spanish]: If you can't pay an attorney one will be named for free to -- to -- to represent you before and during any questioning. Do you understand that? "[DEFENDANT]: Uh-huh. "DET[ECTIVE] ROBLES [in Spanish]: Yes or no? "[DEFENDANT] [in Spanish]: Yes. "DET[ECTIVE] ROBLES [in English to Detective Clark]: Yes. "DET[ECTIVE] CLARK: And, uh, if you could read him the, uh, -- and also if you could advise (inaudible) --

"DET[ECTIVE] ROBLES [in Spanish]: I'm also going to read this to you, okay? "[DEFENDANT]: Uh-huh. "DET[ECTIVE] ROBLES [in Spanish]: Since you are not, uh, a citizen of the United States and you have been detained to -- detained or arrested you have the right to have us inform the representatives of the consulate of your country here in the United States of it. In some cases and depending on your nationality we are not required to contact the officials of the consulate of your country. Do you want us to notify the officials of the consulate of your country, yes or no? "[DEFENDANT] [in Spanish]: With the officials or -- "DET[ECTIVE] ROBLES [in Spanish]: Consulate of your country? Yes or no? "[DEFENDANT]: What do you mean? "DET[ECTIVE] ROBLES [in Spanish]: The Mexican Consulate that you are detained or arrested. "[DEFENDANT]: No.

"DET[ECTIVE] ROBLES: No? "[DEFENDANT]: No. "DET[ECTIVE] ROBLES [in English to Detective Clark]: Okay, he said no so -- "DET[ECTIVE] STOMSVIK: Okay. "DET[ECTIVE] CLARK: Tell him we'd like to talk to him about some of the things that [have] been going on the last few days. "DET[ECTIVE] ROBLES [in Spanish]: They want to talk about the things that have happened the last few days? "[DEFENDANT]: Uh-huh. "DET[ECTIVE] ROBLES [in English to Detective Clark]: Okay. "DET[ECTIVE] CLARK: Uh, -- "DET[ECTIVE] STOMSVIK: Can -- can I just butt in for a second? "DET[ECTIVE] CLARK: Yeah. "DET[ECTIVE] STOMSVIK: Uh, he waived Miranda. Correct? "DET[ECTIVE] ROBLES: Yes. Waived Miranda. "DET[ECTIVE] STOMSVIK: And then he said no to -- "DET[ECTIVE] ROBLES: To this. To the, uh, consular notification. "DET[ECTIVE] STOMSVIK: Which means he waives or doesn't waive or -- "DET[ECTIVE] ROBLES: He -- he doesn't want us to contact them."

Following this exchange, some additional background information was elicited, during which defendant revealed that he had been in the United States "[f]our to five months" and that he lived with his uncle when he first arrived. Detective Robles then asked defendant who he lived with after his uncle, and defendant replied, "with the guy that -- I was with." He described the individual and, eventually, explained "[t]here were three of us." According to a transcript of the interview, the following exchange ensued:

DET[ECTIVE] CLARK: Who's the other guy?*fn3 "[DEFENDANT] [in Spanish]: No, I don't -- know the other guy. "[DEFENDANT] [in Spanish]: He was the one that -- he was the one that -- what's it called? The one that I -- "DET[ECTIVE] ROBLES: It's the one I -- I murdered.*fn4 "DET[ECTIVE] CLARK: The guy that he murdered is the one [who] was living with him? "DET[ECTIVE] ROBLES [in Spanish to defendant]: The guy [who] you murdered is the one you were living ( sic )? "[DEFENDANT]: Mm, uh-huh. "DET[ECTIVE] ROBLES [in English to Detective Clark]: Yes. "[DEFENDANT]: Yes, well, there were three of us but -- it was the other guy that -- yes."

Defendant was asked what happened, and he explained that they had been drinking and he and the victim argued after the victim accused him of taking mail out of the mailbox. Eventually, defendant grabbed a knife and stabbed the victim in the chest. Prior to trial, defendant moved to suppress his statements, contending they were involuntary and were taken in violation of Miranda. After viewing the videotaped confession and finding it "clear . . . that [defendant] understood what was being said," the ...


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