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People v. Begay

Supreme Court of Colorado, En Banc

May 27, 2014

The People of the State of Colorado, Plaintiff-Appellant:
v.
Bradley Begay, Defendant-Appellee:

Page 1027

Interlocutory Appeal from the District Court. Boulder County District Court Case No. 13CR1504. Honorable Patrick Butler, Judge.

Order Reversed.

SYLLABUS

In this interlocutory appeal, the supreme court reverses the trial court's order suppressing the defendant's statements made without a Miranda advisement while waiting for a " show-up" identification. The trial court erred by suppressing the statements after applying the standard governing seizure under the Fourth Amendment instead of custody under the Fifth Amendment. The supreme court reverses the trial court's order and holds that the defendant was not in custody at the time of his interrogation.

Attorneys for Plaintiff-Appellant: Stanley L. Garnett, District Attorney, Twentieth Judicial District, Sean P. Finn, Chief Appellate Deputy District Attorney, Nicole A. Mor, Deputy District Attorney, Boulder, Colorado.

Attorneys for Defendant-Appellee: Douglas K. Wilson, Colorado State Public Defender, Eric Zale, Deputy State Public Defender, Boulder, Colorado.

OPINION

Page 1028

HOOD, JUSTICE.

[¶1] In this interlocutory appeal, the People challenge the trial court's order suppressing statements made by defendant Bradley Begay in response to police questioning without a Miranda advisement. Because the trial court conflated the standards governing seizure under the Fourth Amendment and custody under the Fifth Amendment, we reverse.

I. Facts and Procedural History

[¶2] At approximately 10:30 p.m. on September 6, 2013, police officers responded to reports that a man called " Rabbit" tried to strangle two people in what is known as " Aids Park" in Boulder. The victims were familiar with their attacker and described him to Officer Anthony DiGiovanni as a six-foot Native American male, with shoulder-length black hair and tattoos on both arms, wearing a blue shirt and shorts. Witnesses told Officer DiGiovanni that the alleged assailant had walked off with another male called Bo. Officer DiGiovanni radioed this description to dispatch.

[¶3] Soon after, three plainclothes officers in an unmarked patrol car observed two men matching the report who were crossing a bridge west of Aids Park. Officer Joel Burick exited the car, approached the men, and called out " Hey Rabbit." One of the men responded by approaching Officer Burick in a friendly manner and " almost hugged him as if he knew him." Officer Burick identified himself as law enforcement and asked the man to sit down for officer safety reasons. Noting that the man matched Officer DiGiovanni's description, Officer Burick asked for identification and learned that " Rabbit" was Bradley Begay. The officers alerted dispatch that they had located a possible suspect.

[¶4] While Begay was seated on the ground, Officer Bryan Parch, one of the three officers at the scene, asked him, " What is it that you might have done that someone might confuse

Page 1029

you with an individual who had been involved in a strangulation?" Begay admitted to being present during an altercation at Aids Park, but he claimed that his companion Bo had been attacked and that he had intervened, ending the ...


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