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People v. Davis

Supreme Court of Colorado

October 7, 2019

The People of the State of Colorado, Plaintiff-Appellant:
v.
Jacob Paul Davis. Defendant-Appellee

          Interlocutory Appeal from the District Court El Paso County District Court Case No. 18CR703 Honorable Marla R. Prudek, Judge

          Attorneys for Plaintiff-Appellant: Daniel H. May, District Attorney, Fourth Judicial District Michael Fisher, Deputy District Attorney Tanya A. Karimi, Deputy District Attorney Colorado Springs, Colorado

          Attorneys for Defendant-Appellee: Megan A. Ring, Public Defender Hilary Gurney, Deputy Public Defender Colorado Springs, Colorado

          OPINION

          MÁRQUEZ JUSTICE

         ¶1 Deputies interrogated Jacob Paul Davis in the basement of his parents' home about an alleged sexual assault. During this questioning, Davis made incriminating statements. He later moved to suppress these statements, arguing they were obtained in violation of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). The trial court granted the motion to suppress, agreeing that Davis was subjected to custodial interrogation without having been given a Miranda advisement. The People then filed this interlocutory appeal under section 16-12-102(2), C.R.S. (2019), and C.A.R. 4.1, seeking review of the court's suppression order. Because we conclude that Davis was not in custody for purposes of Miranda, we reverse the trial court's order suppressing the statements.

         I. Facts and Procedural History

         ¶2 Deputy testimony and body camera footage presented at Davis's suppression hearing yielded the following facts. At approximately 6 a.m. on February 2, 2018, Deputy David Glenn and Sergeant Owen McCormack arrived at Davis's residence in response to a report of sexual assault. Davis had been living for approximately nine months in a basement bedroom of the home, which belonged to his father and stepmother. When the deputies arrived, the alleged victim was in the kitchen on the main floor.

         ¶3 Davis's stepmother escorted the deputies to Davis's basement bedroom. The deputies were armed but did not have any weapons drawn. Before entering Davis's room, Glenn called Davis's name several times.

         ¶4 After receiving no response, Glenn entered the room, while McCormack remained in the doorway. Davis appeared to be sleeping. Standing a few feet from the bed, Glenn shook Davis's leg. Glenn asked Davis to sit up and began asking open-ended questions about several topics, including the nature of Davis's relationship with the victim. This interaction lasted between five and seven minutes.

         ¶5 McCormack then instructed Davis to get out of bed and asked him to move out of the bedroom, explaining that "[t]hings are a little safer that way." Davis, who was wearing boxers and a t-shirt, asked McCormack for permission to retrieve a pair of sweatpants; McCormack responded "sure" and retrieved the sweatpants for him, explaining that he did not know if Davis "ha[d] any weapons in here or anything like that." Davis then attempted to find his glasses, and McCormack told him the deputies would retrieve his glasses later. The deputies accompanied Davis down a short hallway to an open area in the basement used for gaming. Glenn instructed Davis to sit in an armchair next to the wall. Davis was not handcuffed, nor did the deputies place their hands on him to move him.

         ¶6 Both deputies briefly left the basement to speak with the victim, who remained upstairs in the kitchen area. McCormack later returned to the basement area and stood several feet from Davis's chair. McCormack testified that he stayed in the basement with Davis "for officer safety reasons just to make sure that nothing happened or nobody got hurt." For the next eight to ten minutes, McCormack and Davis casually discussed several topics unrelated to the investigation, including Davis's relationship with his parents, his relationship with his daughter, his recent divorce, and McCormack's law enforcement career. At one point, they talked about the gaming tables in the basement, and Davis stood up and went over to one of the tables to remove the cover and show the table to McCormack.

         ¶7 Glenn eventually returned to the basement and questioned Davis about the alleged assault for approximately ten minutes. Glenn stood about five feet from Davis's chair during this questioning. He spoke in a conversational tone and used open-ended questions. McCormack, who had remained a few feet away, twice remarked to Davis that telling the truth was for Davis's benefit and that he needed to be honest with the deputies. During the questioning by Glenn, Davis stated that he had sexual contact with the victim, including digital penetration, but contended that it was consensual.

          ¶8 After this questioning, Glenn returned upstairs to interview the victim again. McCormack remained in the basement with Davis, and for the next twenty minutes, they chatted about a range of topics unrelated to the case, including the weather, poker, and the Denver Broncos football team. McCormack also accompanied Davis to his bedroom and allowed Davis to rummage through his bedding to retrieve his glasses.

         ¶9 When Glenn returned, McCormack explained to Davis that another deputy had arrived to help out with interviews to "make sure we have all the appropriate information-factual information." McCormack then stated:

[I]f there's anything considered probable cause to make an arrest, then obviously we're gonna let you know on that. If not, then we'll let you know that, too. Okay? So that's where we are right now . . . if you're wondering why we're standing here, looking at you, waiting, that's what we're doing. Okay?

         Glenn questioned Davis again for approximately six minutes.

         ¶10 Around this time, Deputy Bethany Gibson arrived to take over the case because the other deputies' shifts were ending. She later testified at the suppression hearing that when she arrived, McCormack and Glenn "still hadn't made a conclusion yet on exactly what happened." Gibson came down to the basement to question Davis, explaining to him that she had just arrived and asking him to start from the beginning. Like Glenn, Gibson spoke to Davis in a conversational tone. At one point, Gibson asked to see a text exchange with the victim that Davis had described. Davis asked McCormack for permission to retrieve his phone. Both deputies accompanied Davis to his room, where he was permitted to search through his bedding a second time and retrieve the phone. He then showed the text messages to Gibson.

         ¶11 Gibson left the basement while McCormack remained with Davis. The conversation between McCormack and Davis continued as they waited another twenty minutes. During this time, Davis asked McCormack if he could show the deputy a favorite Broncos jersey. McCormack allowed Davis to retrieve the jersey from an adjoining room. Davis also asked to use the restroom but was initially denied permission because the deputies wanted to collect his clothing as evidence. Finally, at approximately 7:30 a.m., Gibson returned to the basement and placed Davis under formal arrest.

         ¶12 Davis was charged in El Paso County District Court with two counts of sexual assault and one count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He later moved to suppress the statements he made in the basement, arguing that he was subjected to custodial interrogation without having been given a Miranda advisement. In response, the prosecution contended that Davis was subjected only to an investigatory detention, not an arrest, and thus, Miranda warnings were not required. Following a hearing, the trial court agreed with Davis and granted the motion to suppress.

         ¶13 The trial court began its oral ruling by noting that to determine whether Davis was in custody for purposes of Miranda, it had to look at the totality of the circumstances as discussed in this court's decision in People v. Matheny, 46 P.3d 453, 465-66 (Colo. 2002). The trial court also observed that in People v. Rodriguez, 945 P.2d 1351, 1362 (Colo. 1997), this court identified certain factors a court must consider in determining whether an investigatory detention has escalated into an arrest. Ultimately, however, the trial court did not rest its ruling on a Rodriguez analysis. That is, Davis did not argue, and the trial court did not hold, that Davis's detention was too long in duration to be justified as an investigative stop and escalated into an arrest that had to be justified by probable cause.

         ¶14 Instead, the trial court concluded that the encounter was never an investigatory detention but was an arrest from the outset; in other words, the court agreed with Davis that he was in custody for Miranda purposes from the moment he was awakened by the deputies. In reaching this conclusion, the court acknowledged that the deputies did not display any weapons, did not threaten Davis, and never told Davis he could not leave the basement. Nevertheless, it concluded that, under the totality of the circumstances, Davis was in custody because a reasonable person in his circumstances would not have felt free to leave the basement. The court emphasized the early hour and length of the interrogation, noting that Davis was kept in the basement for an hour and twenty- five minutes. It also noted the limitations placed on Davis's movement, ...


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