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State v. Davis

Court of Appeals of Idaho

October 10, 2017

STATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
SAMUEL J. DAVIS, Defendant-Appellant.

         2017 Opinion No. 51

         Appeal from the District Court of the First Judicial District, State of Idaho, Kootenai County. Hon. Cynthia K.C. Meyer, District Judge.

         Order denying motion to suppress, affirmed.

          Eric D. Fredericksen, State Appellate Public Defender; Justin M. Curtis, Deputy Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for appellant.

          Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Ted S. Tollefson, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent.

          GRATTON, CHIEF JUDGE.

         Samuel J. Davis appeals from his judgment of conviction entered upon his conditional guilty plea to robbery, asserting the district court erred by denying his motion to suppress and that his confession was not voluntary. We affirm.

         I.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Davis traveled to Spokane, Washington, to attend a hearing regarding the custody of his child. Driving back to his home in Vienna, Missouri, he realized he did not have enough money to complete the trip and robbed a check-cashing business at gunpoint in Post Falls, Idaho. He was identified as a suspect in the robbery pursuant to a review of video footage and a description provided by the clerk on duty. An arrest warrant was issued and Davis was arrested after he reached Vienna. Detectives from the Post Falls Police Department traveled to Vienna where Davis was in custody and conducted an interrogation in which Davis made incriminating statements regarding the robbery.

         The State charged Davis with robbery, Idaho Code § 18-6501, burglary, I.C. § 18-1401, in addition to a deadly weapon enhancement, I.C. § 19-2520. Davis filed a motion to suppress statements made during the interrogation, which was denied. Davis entered into a conditional guilty plea agreement in which he reserved his right to appeal the denial of his motion to suppress. He pled guilty to robbery and the State dismissed the burglary charge and the deadly weapon enhancement. Davis timely appeals.

         II.

         ANALYSIS

         Davis asserts the district court erred in denying his motion to suppress because he invoked his right to counsel and because his confession was not voluntary. The standard of review of a suppression motion is bifurcated. When a decision on a motion to suppress is challenged, we accept the trial court's findings of fact that are supported by substantial evidence, but we freely review the application of constitutional principles to the facts as found. State v. Atkinson, 128 Idaho 559, 561, 916 P.2d 1284, 1286 (Ct. App. 1996). At a suppression hearing, the power to assess the credibility of witnesses, resolve factual conflicts, weigh evidence, and draw factual inferences is vested in the trial court. State v. Valdez-Molina, 127 Idaho 102, 106, 897 P.2d 993, 997 (1995); State v. Schevers, 132 Idaho 786, 789, 979 P.2d 659, 662 (Ct. App. 1999).

         After an individual is advised of his right to the assistance of counsel, interrogating officers are only required to cease questioning if the individual makes a clear and unequivocal request for counsel. Davis v. United States, 512 U.S. 452, 461-62 (1994). If a reference regarding a desire for an attorney's assistance is ambiguous or equivocal so that a reasonable officer, in light of the circumstances, would have understood only that the suspect might be invoking the right to counsel, the officer is not required to stop questioning the suspect. Id. at 454-61; State v. Payne, 146 Idaho 548, 559, 199 P.3d 123, 134 (2008).

         In this case, the interrogation included in part:

Detective 1: Because I've got you stuck in this little room here, I'm going to tell you what your rights are, okay? You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to talk to a lawyer and have him present with you while you're being questioned. If you can't afford to hire a lawyer, one will be appointed ...

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