433 P.3d 1218 (Colo. 2019), 18SA150, People v. Barrios

Docket Nº:18SA150
Citation:433 P.3d 1218, 2019 CO 10
Party Name:The PEOPLE of the State of Colorado, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Dominic Gabriel BARRIOS, Defendant-Appellee.
Attorney:Attorneys for Plaintiff-Appellant: Peter A. Weir, District Attorney, First Judicial District, Donna Skinner Reed, Chief Appellate Deputy District Attorney, Golden, Colorado Attorneys for Defendant-Appellee: Megan A. Ring, Public Defender, Katherine Powers Spengler, Supervising Deputy State Public...
Judge Panel:JUSTICE MÁRQUEZ dissents, and JUSTICE GABRIEL and JUSTICE HART join in the dissent. JUSTICE MÁRQUEZ, dissenting. I am authorized to state that JUSTICE GABRIEL and JUSTICE HART join in this dissent.
Case Date:January 28, 2019
Court:Supreme Court of Colorado

Page 1218

433 P.3d 1218 (Colo. 2019)

2019 CO 10

The PEOPLE of the State of Colorado, Plaintiff-Appellant,


Dominic Gabriel BARRIOS, Defendant-Appellee.

No. 18SA150

Supreme Court of Colorado, En Banc

January 28, 2019

Page 1219

Interlocutory Appeal from the District Court, Jefferson County District Court Case No. 17CR311, Honorable Philip McNulty, Chief Judge

Attorneys for Plaintiff-Appellant: Peter A. Weir, District Attorney, First Judicial District, Donna Skinner Reed, Chief Appellate Deputy District Attorney, Golden, Colorado

Attorneys for Defendant-Appellee: Megan A. Ring, Public Defender, Katherine Powers Spengler, Supervising Deputy State Public Defender, Golden, Colorado



[¶1] In this interlocutory appeal, the People assert that the trial court erred in suppressing statements of the juvenile defendant, Dominic Barrios.1 At issue is whether the police sufficiently advised Barrios and his legal

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guardian of his rights before he waived his Miranda rights and agreed to talk to the police, and whether his waiver was reliable under the totality of the circumstances. The trial court found that the prosecution failed to establish a reliable Miranda waiver for Barrios under section 19-2-511, C.R.S. (2018), and it ordered that his statements be suppressed. We hold that the police detective complied with section 19-2-511 when he advised Barrios and his legal guardian prior to Barrios’s waiver and that, under the totality of the circumstances, the concerns identified by the trial court do not undermine the reliability of the waiver. Therefore, we reverse the trial court’s order suppressing Barrios’s statements, and we remand to that court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

I. Facts and Procedural History

[¶2] H.J. completed her grocery shopping at a Target store in Arvada and walked to her car. Barrios was also at the Target. According to the arrest warrant,2 after H.J. entered her vehicle, Barrios opened the back door, got in the back seat, put his arm around H.J.’s throat, pulled out a knife, and told her to drive. During the encounter, Barrios took money from H.J. and drove her car to several different locations before ending up at a secluded area, where he demanded that she undress, fondled her intimate parts, and forced her to fondle his. After driving to another isolated area, Barrios disabled H.J.’s phone and left her with her keys and her car. H.J. then drove to a friend’s house and contacted the police.

[ ¶3] The Arvada Police Department received the report from H.J. and began to gather evidence. Crime scene investigation detectives discovered and collected latent fingerprints from H.J.’s car. An Arvada detective ran the fingerprints through the system, which returned a match for Barrios. The address listed for Barrios was the home of his great-grandmother and legal guardian, Delma Trujillo. Arvada Police secured an arrest warrant for Barrios at that address, and it was executed by Denver SWAT at about 1 a.m., two days after the incident.

[ ¶4] Detective Stephens, the lead investigator of the Arvada Police, arrived at Barrios’s house at about 2 a.m. When Stephens arrived, Barrios was outside of the house being transferred from a marked Denver police vehicle to an Arvada police vehicle for his transport to the Arvada Police Department. Stephens wanted to interview Barrios. Because Barrios was a minor, Stephens sought to gain permission from Barrios’s guardian and went inside Trujillo’s house. Stephens found Trujillo sitting inside the house speaking with another detective. Trujillo was eighty-four years old and had been sleeping when police arrived. She identified herself to Stephens as Barrios’s legal guardian, and Stephens asked her if she would be willing to accompany him back to the police station for a formal interview with Barrios. In response, Trujillo asked Stephens, "Did he kill anybody?" When Stephens said no, Trujillo told him that she was not willing to leave the house. By now it was approximately 2 a.m.; it was mid-January and it was cold outside. Stephens told her that he could give her a ride and that her presence "would be ideal." Trujillo reasserted that she did not want to leave the house. At that point, Stephens went out to the crime scene van to retrieve an advisement waiver form.

[¶5] Before returning to Trujillo, Stephens filled out portions of the advisement waiver form, including the date, the case number, the time, whom the form pertained to, and a brief description of what he was investigating. Specifically, Stephens wrote, "Taking H[ ]’s car, carrying a knife, and touching H[ ]."3 Stephens then brought the form to Trujillo and "went through the rights" with her, including Barrios’s Miranda rights. Trujillo signed the form in two separate spots indicating that she understood Barrios’s rights, approved of any decision he made or would make to talk to the police, and was willing to waive her presence during any questioning. Trujillo was not offered an opportunity to speak with Barrios before signing

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the waiver, nor did she ask to speak with Barrios. At this point, there were approximately ten police officers and investigators searching the house, although Stephens was the only person from law enforcement speaking with Trujillo. After Stephens finished speaking with Trujillo, he left and returned to the Arvada Police Department where Barrios was in custody.

[¶6] Once Stephens arrived back at the police station, the booking officer informed him that Barrios wanted to speak with the lead investigator on the case. Barrios was taken to an interview room, where he was joined by Stephens. Stephens verbally advised Barrios of his Miranda rights and reiterated to Barrios that he did not have to speak with police. He also verbally advised Barrios that, since Barrios was a minor, he had an additional right to have a parent or guardian present at questioning. At that point, Stephens handed Barrios the advisement waiver form that Trujillo previously signed containing a written list of Barrios’s rights, including his Miranda rights and, in boldface font, the right to have a parent or guardian present during questioning. Stephens read Barrios these rights and instructed him to put his initials next to each right if he understood the right. Barrios signed his initials next to each right. Before Barrios signed the waiver of rights form, however, he asked Stephens if his "rights would go out the window" if he signed. Stephens informed Barrios that his rights would not go away and that he could stop the interview at any time. Barrios then signed the advisement waiver form, acknowledging that he understood his rights— including the right to have a guardian present for the interview— and that he waived those rights. At that time, Stephens began questioning Barrios. Throughout the questioning, Stephens struck a casual tone with Barrios, using what the trial court described as a "young person’s questioning mode ... dropping the F-bomb and cussing." The trial court concluded that this method of questioning, while probably unprofessional, did not impact the voluntariness of Barrios’s statements.

[ ¶7] Over the course of just under an hour, Barrios told Stephens his version of what happened and corroborated much of what H.J. had told police. At times, Barrios disagreed with H.J.’s version of events, especially the allegations that he used a knife and sexually assaulted her. By the end of the interview, however, Barrios implicated himself in several serious offenses. Ultimately, the People charged Barrios as an adult with eighteen criminal counts, including kidnapping, aggravated robbery, and sexual assault.

[¶8] Barrios moved to suppress the statements he gave to Stephens, claiming, as relevant here, that there was a lack of an express waiver of parental presence as required by section 19-2-511. At the end of the hearing, the trial court granted Barrios’s motion to suppress his statements. In making its decision, the court discussed factors bearing on the reliability of a waiver of rights as articulated in Grant v. People, 48 P.3d 543, 549-50 (Colo. 2002). In granting the motion to suppress, however, the trial court relied primarily on two findings: (1) the advisement waiver form minimized the seriousness of the offenses, and (2) the police did not bring Barrios back to his house to give him an opportunity to consult with Trujillo prior to his Miranda waiver. The court also stated that "if this were an adult that the police were dealing with, the Court would have found that [Barrios] was fully advised pursuant to Miranda, waived his rights, and the statements were voluntary."

[¶9] The People filed this interlocutory appeal as authorized by section 16-12-102(2), C.R.S. (2018), and C.A.R. 4.1.

II. Analysis

[¶10] We must determine...

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