Appeal from the District Court
County District Court Nos. 16CR87 & 16CR419 Honorable
Phillip L. Douglass, Judge
Attorneys for Plaintiff-Appellant: George H. Brauchler,
District Attorney, Eighteenth Judicial District Richard H.
Orman, Chief Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Gilbert,
Deputy District Attorney Centennial, Colorado.
Attorneys for Defendant-Appellee: Douglas K. Wilson, Public
Defender Jake C. Taufer, Deputy Public Defender Centennial,
Defendant James Sampson spoke with a police officer while
Sampson was in a hospital for treatment of knife wounds.
Sampson's statements are now at issue in a criminal case
pending against him in Arapahoe County. The key question is
whether Sampson was in custody when he spoke to the officer.
The trial court ruled Sampson was not in custody for
Miranda purposes until the officer gave Sampson a
Miranda advisement. Finding the People failed to
prove Sampson made a voluntary waiver of his Miranda
rights, the trial court suppressed the statements Sampson
made after the advisement.
The People bring this interlocutory appeal pursuant to
section 16-12-102(2), C.R.S. (2017), and C.A.R. 4.1,
challenging the trial court's suppression order. Assuming
without deciding that giving Miranda warnings can be
considered in determining whether a person is in custody, we
conclude Sampson was not in custody at any point during his
conversation with the officer at the hospital. Because the
defendant was not in custody, Miranda did not apply.
Therefore, we reverse the trial court's suppression
Facts and Procedural History
On January 12, 2016, Aurora Police Department (APD) Officer
Darren Martinez spoke with Sampson at the Medical Center of
Aurora. Officer Martinez was dispatched to the hospital on a
report that a stabbing victim had walked into the emergency
room. Sampson told Officer Martinez someone on the street had
stabbed him while trying to rob him, and a good Samaritan
drove him to the hospital.
Officer Martinez ran Sampson's name in APD's
information database. He learned Sampson was a suspect in a
September 2015 domestic violence assault case that allegedly
occurred at an address near where Sampson said he was picked
up. Officer Martinez then sent officers to the address to
make sure it wasn't a crime scene.
When the officers arrived at the address, they saw what
looked like blood outside the apartment door. No one answered
the door, so they forced entry. Inside they found Ms. R. with
a stab wound on her thigh. Ms. R. told the officers that
Sampson had attacked her with a bat, and she had defended
herself with a knife.
At the hospital, Officer Martinez told Sampson that officers
were in contact with Ms. R. and that he knew what had
happened at the apartment. At first, Sampson stuck to his
original story, but after Officer Martinez said,
"[L]ook, we already know what happened, " Sampson
admitted he had lied.
After this admission, Officer Martinez read Sampson a
Miranda advisement, the sufficiency of which is not
in dispute. Sampson acknowledged that he understood his
rights, and he agreed to answer Officer Martinez's
Officer Martinez asked what had happened at the apartment.
Sampson said he was there with Ms. R. when they began
arguing. Ms. R. told him to leave, so Sampson invited another
woman to the address to pick him up. According to Sampson,
this upset Ms. R. and caused her to attack him in the
kitchen. Sampson told Officer Martinez that Ms. R. stabbed
him, but did not provide any details. Officer Martinez told
Sampson he would be arrested when he was released from the
Sampson now faces charges on the 2015 and 2016 alleged
domestic violence incidents, which have been ...