State Supreme Court suppresses statement
A drunken murder suspect in Farmington invoked his right to remain silent, and that means prosecutors cannot use the statement police obtained from him as evidence, the New Mexico Supreme Court has ruled.
Donovan King was charged with murder in the May 2011 beating death of Kevin Lossiah. King told Detective Paul Martinez he did not want to talk following his arrest. King said he was drunk on vodka, but Martinez persisted, saying at one point, "Well, intoxication isn't one of the reasons you can't talk to us."
Based on Martinez's conduct, District Judge John A. Dean Jr. ruled that the police interrogation of King was unlawful, and that the statement police obtained would not be admissible as evidence. The Supreme Court agreed.
King, 24, is accused in the robbery and murder of Lossiah, who was 40.
A codefendant, Justin Mark, was convicted in the murder last year and sentenced to life in prison.
Here is the key part of a tape-recorded exchange between Detective Martinez and King:
Detective Martinez: All right, Donovan. Listen to me. You have the right to remain silent. Listen to me. Look at me, bro. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say may be used against you. You have a right to a lawyer. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided free. Do you understand your rights?
Detective Martinez: Do you wish to answer any questions?
King: Not at the moment. Kind of intoxicated.
Detective Martinez: Well, intoxication isn't one of the reasons you can't talk to us. It's us ...
King: It's what?
Detective Martinez: Three o'clock. Sign this form for me if you wish to answer questions. Right there.
King: If I wish to answer questions? Like I said, not at the moment.
Detective Martinez: Well, intoxication is a reason -- one of the reasons ...
Martinez put the waiver form and a pen on the table, showing King where to sign. Then Martinez continued speaking:
We just need you to tell us your side of the story. There's two sides to every story.
Detective Martinez: We just want your side. So sign that and let's -- the quicker we do this, the quicker we can find you a place to sleep. All right?
King: Uh huh.
Detective Martinez: OK. Go ahead and sign that and we'll go from there.
King: What happens if I don't sign it.
Detective Martinez: Well, we just need you to sign it so we can -- that's what this is -- Step One.
King: Yeah, but you didn't answer my question.
Detective Martinez: What will happen if you don't sign it? Well, it's not against the law.
Detective Martinez: And we want to talk to you.
Detective Martinez: Actually, the reality is, Donovan, you should be begging us to listen to you.
King: Uh huh.
Detective Martinez: And have an opportunity to tell your side of the story. Because if we go with what we right now know, it's not good for Donovan. Do you understand that?
Detective Martinez: So why don't you sign that and let's move on.
King: So what do you know right now?
Detective Martinez: Well, sign that and I'll tell you what we know and we'll go from there. I know you're in a world of hurt.
King: Uh huh.
Detective Martinez: You've already told Officer Dart enough.
King: I know.
Detective Martinez: So if I was you, seriously man, you need to give your side of the story.
King: I thought I did.
Detective Martinez: No, not enough. But we just got to flush (sic) it out a little bit.
Sergio J. Viscoli, an assistant state public defender in the appellate division, stated in his brief that Martinez lied to King twice by saying intoxication was not a reason for silence.
In fact, the defendant could stay silent without giving any reason.