People v. Connelly, No. 84SA270

Docket NºNo. 84SA270
Citation702 P.2d 722
Case DateJuly 08, 1985
CourtSupreme Court of Colorado

Page 722

702 P.2d 722
The PEOPLE of the State of Colorado, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Francis Barry CONNELLY, Defendant-Appellee.
No. 84SA270.
Supreme Court of Colorado,
En Banc.
July 8, 1985.

Page 724

Norman S. Early, Jr., Dist. Atty., O. Otto Moore, Asst. Dist. Atty., Brooke Wunnicke, Chief Appellate Deputy Dist. Atty., Denver, for plaintiff-appellant.

David F. Vela, Colorado State Public Defender, Robin Desmond, Deputy State Public Defender, Abelardo P. Bernal, Deputy State Public Defender, Denver, for defendant-appellee.

QUINN, Chief Justice.

The People, pursuant to C.A.R. 4.1, challenge a ruling of the district court suppressing inculpatory statements made by the defendant and any evidence that might have been derived from those statements. The district court ruled that the defendant was suffering from a severe mental disorder which rendered his statements involuntary and that the prosecution had not met its burden of proving an effective waiver of the defendant's Miranda rights. 1 We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand with directions.

I.

The defendant was charged with the second degree murder 2 of Marry Anne Junta, allegedly committed in Denver, Colorado, between December 1, 1982, and February 1, 1983. Subsequent to the filing of the charge, the court determined that the defendant was incompetent to stand trial. After approximately six months of treatment at the Colorado State Hospital the defendant was certified as competent to proceed, and the case was set for a preliminary hearing in the Denver District Court.

Prior to the preliminary hearing the defendant moved to suppress a confession and evidence obtained as a result of the confession. The basis for the suppression motion was that the defendant was mentally incompetent at the time of his confession, thereby rendering his confession involuntary and precluding a valid waiver of his Miranda rights. The defendant requested the court to conduct the suppression hearing in advance of the preliminary hearing. The prosecution made no objection to this procedure, and the district court acquiesced in the defendant's request.

Evidence presented at the suppression hearing established the following facts. On August 18, 1983, while in uniform on an off-duty assignment in downtown Denver, Officer Anderson of the Denver Police Department was approached by the defendant who told him that "he had killed someone" and wanted to tell the officer about it. The officer noted that the defendant's physical appearance was clean and neat, but the

Page 725

nature of the defendant's statement prompted the officer to ask the defendant whether he had received treatment for any mental disorders. The defendant stated that he had.

After being informed by the officer of his Miranda rights and stating that he understood those rights, the defendant elaborated further on his initial statement. He told the officer that he had killed a young girl with whom he had been travelling and that the killing occurred near the area of West Mississippi Avenue in Denver during November or December of 1982. The officer then checked the defendant's driver's license for identification and telephoned the Denver Police Department to determine if they had any information on the killing reported by the defendant.

Detective Antuna then arrived at the scene, having ascertained that an unidentified body of a female had been discovered in west Denver in April 1983. After the detective administered a Miranda advisement, the defendant stated that the victim was Marry Anne Junta and that he would be glad to show the officers where the killing occurred. The defendant, Detective Antuna, and another officer then proceeded toward southwest Denver in accordance with directions given by the defendant. The defendant directed the police to a storage structure located near the intersection of Alameda Avenue and Pecos Street and, becoming visibly agitated, indicated that he had stabbed the victim at this location and had covered her body up with a mattress. Both Officer Anderson and Detective Antuna testified that no promise, force, threat, or coercion was directed against the defendant in interrogating the defendant about the details of the crime.

Dr. Jeffrey Metzner, a psychiatrist whom the court had previously appointed to conduct a competency examination of the defendant, was called as a defense witness and testified that the defendant's statements to the police on August 18, 1983, were not voluntary. This opinion was based in part on the following history which the doctor was able to elicit from the defendant during the competency evaluation. In the late afternoon of August 17, 1983, the defendant began to experience the voice of God telling him to go to Denver from Boston in order to confess his crime to the police. The defendant obeyed the voice and purchased an airplane ticket to Denver on that same evening. After arriving in Denver the defendant spent the night looking for the crime scene and was eventually able to locate it with the help of the voice that was speaking to him. The defendant then considered returning home, but God's voice told him he had only two options: he must either confess to the crime or commit suicide. It was at this point that the defendant went to the downtown area of Denver and confessed to the first policeman he was able to find. Dr. Metzner testified that the defendant on August 18, 1983, was suffering from chronic paranoid schizophrenia and that his statements to the police resulted from "command auditory hallucinations," a symptom of his mental disorder. Because, in the doctor's view, persons suffering from such hallucinations feel "as if they have to act on whatever the voice is telling them," the doctor was of the opinion that the defendant was unable to make a free and intelligent decision about whether to speak and confess to the police.

The district court granted the defendant's suppression motion. Although noting that the police had advised the defendant of his Miranda rights, that the defendant had stated he understood those rights, and that the police had not acted improperly in speaking to the defendant and recording his statements, the court found that the defendant did not exercise free will in choosing to speak to the police, but rather was "compelled by his illness to do that which he did." The court thus determined that the prosecution had failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant's statements to the police on August 18, 1983, were voluntarily made. The court further concluded that, because the defendant's psychosis compelled him to follow the mandate of God and confess to the crime rather than kill himself, the prosecution

Page 726

had not carried its burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant had voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently waived his Miranda rights. The court accordingly suppressed the defendant's confession and all subsequent statements made by the defendant while in police custody. In addition, the court ruled that any evidence that might have been discovered by the police subsequent to the defendant's statements "would be directly related to the Defendant's statements" and, without determining whether such evidence actually existed or its connection to the defendant's statements, suppressed all such evidence as well.

The People, emphasizing the noncustodial and unsolicited nature of the defendant's first statement to Officer Anderson and the absence of any evidence of police misconduct in the subsequent custodial interrogations of the defendant, argue that the district court erred in suppressing the defendant's initial statement as involuntarily made, also in suppressing his subsequent statements as obtained in violation of the defendant's Miranda rights, and finally in suppressing any evidence that might arguably have been derived from those statements. We conclude that the record of the suppression hearing adequately supports the court's determination that the defendant's initial statement to Officer Anderson was not voluntarily made and that his statements subsequent to his arrest were not the result of a valid waiver of his Miranda rights. We therefore hold that in the event the defendant is bound over for trial as the result of a preliminary hearing, the defendant's inculpatory statements may not be admitted into evidence at trial. The limited record in this case, however, does not permit us to determine what evidence, if any, might have been derived from the defendant's statements. We accordingly reverse that part of the suppression order relating to the derivative evidence and remand the case to the district court for the purpose of conducting a further hearing in accordance with controlling constitutional principles.

II.

Before resolving the correctness of the suppression order itself, we consider as a preliminary matter the propriety of the procedure adopted by the district court in hearing and ruling on the defendant's motion to suppress in advance of a preliminary hearing. Although the prosecution did not object to this procedure, we nonetheless believe the matter to be of sufficient importance to address it on our own motion.

The basic purpose of a preliminary hearing is to permit the court to determine whether probable cause exists to believe that the crime charged in the complaint or information was committed by the defendant. E.g., People v. Taylor, 655 P.2d 382 (Colo.1982); People v. Johnson, 618 P.2d 262 (Colo.1980). A preliminary hearing serves as a screening device which affords the defendant an early opportunity to challenge the filing of criminal charges against him "by forcing the government to present its evidence to an impartial judge for examination." People v. Quinn, 183 Colo. 245, 249, 516 P.2d 420, 422 (1973). When probable cause is not established, the court is empowered to dismiss the case at an early stage, thereby avoiding the...

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26 practice notes
  • United States v. Allen, Nos. 16-898-cr (Lead)
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit
    • July 19, 2017
    ...in that case. 538 U.S. at 773, 123 S.Ct. 1994.85 479 U.S. 157, 107 S.Ct. 515, 93 L.Ed.2d 473 (1986).86 Id. at 162, 107 S.Ct. 515 (quoting 702 P.2d 722, 728 (Colo. 1985) ).87 Id. at 167, 107 S.Ct. 515.88 For that same reason, we believe that the Ninth Circuit's dictum in United States v. Wol......
  • People v. Chastain, No. 85SA68
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • March 16, 1987
    ...in Colorado v. Connelly, 459 U.S. ----, 107 S.Ct. 515, 93 L.Ed.2d 473 (1986). In that case, the Court reversed People v. Connelly, 702 P.2d 722 (Colo.1985), which affirmed the trial court's suppression of the defendant's confession to police officers. In Connelly, the defendant approached a......
  • Colorado v. Connelly, No. 85-660
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • December 10, 1986
    ...of coercion flowing from the "voice of God" is a matter to which the Federal Constitution does not speak. Pp. 167-171. 702 P.2d 722 (Colo.1985), reversed and remanded. REHNQUIST, C.J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which WHITE, POWELL, O'CONNOR, and SCALIA, JJ., joined, a......
  • People v. Braggs, No. 1-01-0110.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • November 8, 2002
    ...the police gave them. The Colorado Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's suppression of the defendant's statements. People v. Connelly, 702 P.2d 722 (Colo.1985). The court found that the admission of the confession in a court of law was sufficient state action to implicate the due proces......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
26 cases
  • United States v. Allen, Nos. 16-898-cr (Lead)
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit
    • July 19, 2017
    ...in that case. 538 U.S. at 773, 123 S.Ct. 1994.85 479 U.S. 157, 107 S.Ct. 515, 93 L.Ed.2d 473 (1986).86 Id. at 162, 107 S.Ct. 515 (quoting 702 P.2d 722, 728 (Colo. 1985) ).87 Id. at 167, 107 S.Ct. 515.88 For that same reason, we believe that the Ninth Circuit's dictum in United States v. Wol......
  • People v. Chastain, No. 85SA68
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • March 16, 1987
    ...in Colorado v. Connelly, 459 U.S. ----, 107 S.Ct. 515, 93 L.Ed.2d 473 (1986). In that case, the Court reversed People v. Connelly, 702 P.2d 722 (Colo.1985), which affirmed the trial court's suppression of the defendant's confession to police officers. In Connelly, the defendant approached a......
  • Colorado v. Connelly, No. 85-660
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • December 10, 1986
    ...of coercion flowing from the "voice of God" is a matter to which the Federal Constitution does not speak. Pp. 167-171. 702 P.2d 722 (Colo.1985), reversed and remanded. REHNQUIST, C.J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which WHITE, POWELL, O'CONNOR, and SCALIA, JJ., joined, a......
  • People v. Braggs, No. 1-01-0110.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • November 8, 2002
    ...the police gave them. The Colorado Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's suppression of the defendant's statements. People v. Connelly, 702 P.2d 722 (Colo.1985). The court found that the admission of the confession in a court of law was sufficient state action to implicate the due proces......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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