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State v. Chavez-Meza

Court of Appeals of Oregon

December 18, 2019

STATE OF OREGON, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
JUAN JOSE CHAVEZ-MEZA, Defendant-Appellant.

          Argued and Submitted January 30, 2019

          Washington County Circuit Court C153062CR Oscar Garcia, Judge.

          Meredith Allen, Deputy Public Defender, argued the cause for appellant. Also on the briefs was Ernest G. Lannet, Chief Defender, Criminal Appellate Section, Offce of Public Defense Services.

          Patrick M. Ebbett, Assistant Attorney General, argued the cause for respondent. Also on the briefs were Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, and Benjamin Gutman, Solicitor General.

          Before Armstrong, Presiding Judge, and Tookey, Judge, and Shorr, Judge.

         Case Summary: Defendant appeals from a judgment of conviction for rape in the second degree, sexual abuse in the first degree, and sodomy in the second degree. Defendant assigns error to the trial court's denial of his motion to suppress statements that defendant made to police, contending that the statements were not made voluntarily. Defendant argues that statements that police made to defendant during an interrogation amounted to promises of leniency. The state argues that the detectives' statements were not promises of leniency and that defendant's statements were made voluntarily. Held: In light of the totality of circumstances of the interrogation, the state met its burden to demonstrate that defendant's statements to the police were made voluntarily and that his will was not overborne. The trial court did not err in denying defendant's motion to suppress.

          [301 Or.App. 374] SHORR, J.

         Defendant appeals from a judgment of conviction for one count of second-degree rape, one count of first-degree sexual abuse, and one count of second-degree sodomy. Defendant raises four assignments of error. We write only to address defendant's second assignment of error, that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress statements that defendant had made to the police.[1] We conclude that the state met its burden to demonstrate that defendant's statements to the police were made voluntarily, and we therefore affirm the trial court's denial of defendant's motion to suppress.

         When we review a trial court's denial of a motion to suppress in this circumstance,

"we accept the court's findings of fact if there is any evidence to support them. If findings are not made on all such facts, and there is evidence from which such facts could be decided more than one way, we will presume that the facts were decided in a manner consistent with the ultimate conclusion, e.g., voluntariness or lack thereof, made by the trial court. Whether the facts found by the trial court are sufficient to sustain the trial court's ultimate conclusion regarding voluntariness is a question of law that we review for legal error."

State v. Ruiz-Piza, 262 Or.App. 563, 564, 325 P.3d 802 (2014) (citations, internal quotation marks, and ellipses omitted). We state the facts in a manner consistent with that standard.

         The 12-year-old victim in this case, A, disclosed to a representative of a child abuse assessment center that she had been raped. A told investigators that a "Hispanic guy" raped her in the back of his car, a black Mitsubishi, at a park in Hillsboro. Later, A told investigators that she had connected with the man on Livelinks, a telephone dating service. A gave the man's phone number to Detective Townsend of the Hillsboro Police Department, who discovered that that [301 Or.App. 375] phone number was registered to defendant. A's phone records showed approximately 170 contacts with that phone number. A also identified defendant in a photographic laydown. When A saw defendant's photo, she said, "That's him. That's the guy," and that she was "a hundred percent positive."

         After A's identification, Townsend contacted defendant and asked him to meet for an interview. Defendant agreed. Defendant arrived "on his own volition" at the Hillsboro Police Department and met with Townsend and another detective, Hahn. At the beginning of the interview, Townsend told defendant that he was "not going to jail, you're not under arrest, you're free to leave here at any point." Townsend advised defendant of his Miranda rights and then began asking defendant questions about his home life and his and his family's phone and internet habits. Defendant provided information about his wife and children, their phone numbers, their internet habits, and other general background information, such as how long he and his wife had been married and what she did for a living. Townsend and Hahn also inquired about defendant's vehicles and his familiarity with Livelinks.

         Townsend showed defendant A's photograph and told him that A had identified him in a photographic lineup as the man who had sexually assaulted her. Defendant said that he did not recognize A, and he denied having sex with her. Townsend asked defendant if he would take a polygraph test and provide a DNA sample. Defendant agreed, and said he was "pretty sure" he would pass. Then the following colloquy ensued between Townsend and defendant:

"DET. TOWNSEND: So-so what I'm looking for is some honesty about what happened.
"[DEFENDANT]: Yeah.
"DET. TOWNSEND: -what happened. And if you just made a mistake, it's not like I'm going to call your wife and ruin your life, okay?
"[DEFENDANT]: No, no, no.
"DET. TOWNSEND: I just want to know what happened and I want to have some honesty that we can pass along to the court instead of all denials.
[301 Or.App. 376] "[DEFENDANT]: Yeah.
"DET. TOWNSEND: You know?
"DET. TOWNSEND: And if it happened, it happened, it was a mistake, we'll move on.
“*****
"DET. TOWNSEND: But what I'm saying is for the outcome of this case, for the district attorney or the judge or whoever that's going to be reviewing this case, they have the one side of this story that the victim provided, right?
"[DEFENDANT]: Mm-hm.
"DET. TOWNSEND: Which is very clear and accurate. And then we have your side of the story that you're giving, which is all denial about what happened. And so I'm just saying, it would be better for you to tell us what really happened so we can-we can consider both sides of the story. And right now I only have one side of the story. You know?
"[DEFENDANT]: About what really happened about what?
"DET. TOWNSEND: With this gal, because I know that you met up with her and something happened. If what she's saying actually didn't happen, then you need to tell me that. Just say, 'I met with her and nothing happened,' or something. But by you saying you don't know her, you've never seen her, met her, anything, I don't-I don't believe that.
"[DEFENDANT]: Like I already told you, I mean, I'm telling you the truth."

(Emphases added.)

Hahn then began to interrogate defendant about why he expressed doubt about passing a polygraph test. Defendant explained that sometimes his English was not "a hundred percent."
"DET. HAHN: But that doesn't have anything to do with a lie detector test, right? That's not what she's asking you. This is about your confidence in whether or not you would pass it. And you-your answer was that you're not confident you're going to pass it. Which is why-why Detective Townsend is telling you that you need to be [301 Or.App. 377] honest, because it's very apparent that something happened and you're just not coming clean about it. And again, I think that now is probably the best time for you to just say like, 'This is what happened.' I mean, she already told you you're going to walk out of here today.
"[DEFENDANT]: Yeah, but I mean-
"DET. HAHN: And it doesn't matter-
"[DEFENDANT]: Okay.
"DET. HAHN: -that you have a daughter who is thirteen, fourteen years old. Sometimes people have urges that they can't control. And even if they have a wife and kids, like, they can't control it and they go beyond that.
"[DEFENDANT]: No. That's not okay. And I'm being honest to you guys. I mean-
"DET. TOWNSEND: And like she's saying, this is the time for you to tell us what happened. And, you know, this gal is saying, [defendant], that you raped her. Okay? If you didn't rape her and it was just you guys made out or there was just a little bit of this and a little bit of that and not the full thing that she's saying, we need to know that information because it does make a difference.
"[DEFENDANT]: Yeah.
"DET. TOWNSEND: Okay? And so that's why this- this is the time, you know, because you're not going to jail. You came here yourself to tell us.
"[DEFENDANT]: Yeah.
"DET. HAHN: To meet with us today. And so that's- we gave you this opportunity to talk about what really, really happened.
"DET. TOWNSEND: And this girl, she's not just going to randomly pick some dude and magically know, 'I should tell them this phone number and I should tell them this description of the car and I should tell them this description of the person and, gee, I sure hope that all the stars align and everything is exactly right,' because it just doesn't work that way.
"I mean, she's given enough detail to-that it all goes together. So she is describing exactly your car, she is describing exactly your phone number, she is describing [301 Or.App. 378] exactly you and she picked you out of a lineup. And there's no way-
“*****
"-that she's just randomly doing that and guessing correctly on all that information.
"Which, again, tells us, we're trained investigators, that something happened. That you met up with her and maybe, like Detective Townsend said, maybe you didn't rape her, but there was some contact. I-the evidence is very-
"[DEFENDANT]: No.
"DET TOWNSEND: -obvious, there was some contact between the two of you. And it will look better for you in the future if you are honest about that contact now than if you don't come clean about it now.
*****
"DET. HAHN: And it's probably really hard for you to talk about. We totally get that. But you-it will be better for you to get it off your chest and just let it out. It appears to me that you're struggling. I can see it in your face that this is hard for you.
"[DEFENDANT]: You know, if somebody told you the same thing to you, something you didn't do, do you ...

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