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State v. Powell

Court of Appeals of Idaho

February 14, 2017

STATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
GREGORY WAYNE POWELL, Defendant-Appellant.

         2017 Opinion No. 14

         Appeal from the District Court of the First Judicial District, State of Idaho, Kootenai County. Hon. Fred M. Gibler, District Judge.

         Order denying motion to suppress, reversed; judgment of conviction, vacated.

          Eric D. Fredericksen, State Appellate Public Defender; Maya P. Waldron, Deputy Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for appellant.

          Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Jessica M. Lorello, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent.

          GUTIERREZ, Judge

         Gregory Wayne Powell appeals from his judgment of conviction for lewd conduct with a minor under sixteen. Specifically, he argues the district court erred in denying Powell's motion to suppress evidence obtained during his parole hearing. For the reasons set forth below, we reverse the district court's order denying Powell's motion to suppress and vacate his judgment of conviction.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         In 2007, Powell was charged with two counts of lewd conduct with a minor under sixteen, Idaho Code § 18-1508. Each charge was based upon Powell's conduct with two different victims. As part of a plea agreement, Powell pled guilty to one count and the State dismissed the other count. Powell was sentenced to a unified sixteen-year sentence, with seven years determinate.

         In 2013, Powell was nearing completion of the determinate portion of his sentence and was being considered for parole. As part of the parole process, Powell participated in a prehearing interview with a parole hearing officer. During this interview, the hearing officer asked Powell numerous questions regarding his social and criminal history. Included in this line of questioning were inquiries into whether Powell previously committed any other uncharged sexual offenses. At no time did the hearing officer promise that Powell would not be prosecuted for any incriminating responses. The hearing officer did, however, instruct Powell that if he did not answer the questions truthfully, he would be denied parole. Powell admitted to the hearing officer to having engaged in lewd conduct with two additional victims--conduct for which he had not been convicted.[1] The hearing officer then reported the additional victims to local law enforcement.

         Powell then appeared before the Idaho Commission of Pardons and Parole Board for a parole hearing. During that hearing, Powell again admitted to having engaged in lewd conduct with two additional victims. The parole board granted Powell a tentative parole date conditioned upon his successful completion of several classes.

         Four months after Powell's parole hearing, law enforcement officers interviewed Powell about his incriminating admission. Officers read Powell Miranda[2] warnings prior to questioning, and Powell again admitted to sexually molesting two additional victims. Based upon the statements made to the parole hearing officer, the parole board and the law enforcement officers, the State charged Powell with two additional counts of lewd conduct with a minor under sixteen. Powell filed a motion to suppress evidence of the statements he made during the prehearing interview and parole board hearing on the grounds they were obtained in violation of his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The district court denied the motion, finding the State did not compel Powell to make the self-incriminating statements. Instead, the court found that Powell voluntarily disclosed the information out of his desire to be paroled.

          Powell entered a conditional guilty plea to one count of lewd conduct with a minor, reserving the right to appeal the denial of his motion to suppress. In exchange, the State dismissed the second count of lewd conduct. Powell timely appeals the district court's denial of his motion to suppress.

         II. ...


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