State v. Moore, 48817

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Idaho
Writing for the CourtMOELLER, JUSTICE
PartiesSTATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. DANIEL LEE MOORE, Defendant-Respondent.
Docket Number48817
Decision Date31 August 2022

STATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.

DANIEL LEE MOORE, Defendant-Respondent.

No. 48817

Supreme Court of Idaho, Boise

August 31, 2022


Appeal from the District Court of the First Judicial District of the State of Idaho, Boundary County. Barbara A. Buchanan, District Judge.

The decisions of the district court are reversed in part and affirmed in part.

Lawrence G. Wasden, Idaho Attorney General, Boise, for Appellant.

Kenneth Jorgensen argued. Bolton Law, PLLC, Coeur d'Alene, for Respondent. Katherine Jill Bolton argued.

MOELLER, JUSTICE

On August 27, 2020, police interviewed Dr. Daniel Lee Moore ("Moore") concerning the murder of Dr. Brian Drake ("Drake"), who had been shot in his chiropractic office over five months earlier. Although Moore invoked his right to an attorney at least three times, the interrogation continued. Moore eventually confessed to the crime and was charged with second-degree murder. Following a defense motion, the district court suppressed the confession after finding that Moore's Miranda[1] rights had been violated. The district court later dismissed the case, concluding that because the State had relied on the tainted confession in the preliminary hearing, there was insufficient evidence to support a showing of probable cause. The State appeals from the district court's decision dismissing its case against Moore.

On appeal, the State concedes that there was a Miranda violation but argues that the district court erred in dismissing the case. Although the Miranda violation rendered Moore's statements

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inadmissible in the State's case-in-chief, the State maintains that the statements could still be used to impeach a claim of innocence by Moore if he were to testify at trial. Addressing the decisions of the district court, the State also argues that (1) there was no due process violation because "the district court failed to find a constitutionally prohibited coercion" and "the district court erred as a matter of law when it concluded that Moore's will was overborne;" and (2) "the district court erroneously reviewed the admissibility of the evidence at the preliminary hearing rather than determining if the evidence in fact admitted supported the magistrate's probable cause findings." (Emphasis in original).

I. Facts and Background

A. Murder and a Gas Leak

On March 12, 2020, after finishing up with his last patients of the day, Drake was shot in the back and killed while talking to his wife on his cell phone. The shot came through the window of his chiropractic office in Bonners Ferry, Idaho. The blinds to his office window were closed and the autopsy indicates that he was likely sitting. Drake's office is on the same street as the office of another chiropractor, Moore.[2]

When he was first interviewed, Moore, then 63 years old, told police he was at his friend Mick Mellett's ("Mellett")[3] house on the night of the murder. He claimed to have left Mellett's house, being ill with diarrhea, to go to his office in search of medicine. When he could not find any, he went back to Mellett's house for Imodium. Moore stated he was with Mellett when the call came in about the shooting. Later, when questioned about his involvement in Drake's death, officers told Moore that investigators had security footage of his truck in the vicinity of the shooting at the time it occurred. He then explained that he was in the area because he had gone into the alley behind his own office to defecate.

Three days after the murder, there was a gas leak in Moore's office. Mellett had passed by the office on his way to breakfast with a friend and noticed Moore's truck in the parking lot. When he returned home, he noticed the truck was still at the office, and, since it was unusual for him to be there on a Sunday, he used his key to enter Moore's office. He found Moore getting up from an exam table, appearing "woozy." Mellett took Moore outside the building and called to report the

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gas leak. Moore explained that he had gone to his office to change a furnace filter when he was overcome with the gas leak and became unconscious. Moore claimed he has anosmia (the loss of the sense of smell) and did not notice the scent of gas.

Police interviewed Fire Chief David Winey who responded to the gas leak. He stated that he discovered a "gas fitting" was just finger tight, noting that this was odd and that he had never seen that before in his experience. Police also interviewed an experienced local rep for Avista, a regional natural gas company, with 30 years of experience. He opined that the gas fitting was intentionally loosened.

B. The Investigation Focuses on Moore.

At the time of the shooting, Moore owned a white Toyota Tundra pickup. Law enforcement reviewed security footage from multiple local businesses recorded at the time of Drake's murder. Although the video recordings displayed inconsistent timestamps (some off by several hours), when properly pieced together, police determined that the footage validates a conclusion that Moore's truck was near the scene of the murder at the time it occurred. Idaho State Police ("ISP") Detective Sergeant Michael Van Leuven ("Van Leuven") summarized the security footage as follows:

We later observe [Moore's] truck leaving Mellett's house just prior to the shooting. The truck is then seen circling the area where the shooting occurs two times including driving down the area between the two buildings directly outside the window where the shooting occurs and then stopping for several seconds. Dr. Moore's truck then drive's [sic] north on Main Street from Dr. Drake's office and parks at Dr. Moore's office. After parking, the taillights flash in a manner consistent with Dr. Moore locking his truck with a keyless remote. A human figure is then seen walking from the direction of Dr. Moore's office toward Dr. Drake's office one and half minutes before the shooting occurs. As previously established, the shooting occurs at 7:26 p.m. A human figure is then seen walking and then running back from the area of Dr. Drake's office toward Dr. Moore's office one and [a] half minutes after the shooting. The lights on the back of Dr. Moore's truck, again, flash in a manner consistent with Dr. Moore unlocking his truck using his keyless entry. His truck is then seen driving back toward Mellett's house (300 feet away).... After five minutes Dr. Moore's truck is then seen leaving Mellett's house and driving a circuitous route back toward Dr. Moore's house that conspicuously avoids the crime scene.[4]
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Moore was first contacted by ISP Detectives Richard Alderson ("Alderson") and Leslie Lehman ("Lehman") regarding Drake's murder on March 24, 2020. On May 6, Sergeant Van Leuven and Detective Alderson re-interviewed Moore at his office. No charges resulted from these initial interviews.

C. Moore's Custodial Interrogation

After months of investigation, law enforcement sought to interview Moore again without arousing his suspicion that he had become the primary suspect. On August 27, 2020, Lehman asked Moore to bring his wife's gun to the Boundary County Sheriff's Office. Lehman later testified at the suppression hearing that law enforcement knew that the gun was not the one used in the shooting, but they had requested that he bring the gun simply to get Moore to the Boundary County Sheriff's Office. While Moore waited for the firearms specialist to inspect and photograph the gun, the firearms specialist and the detective who asked him to bring the gun engaged in small talk with Moore. Van Leuven entered the room and asked Moore if he would answer a few more questions. Several other officers entered the room and told Moore they were taking him back to a "secure area" and that he would need to be checked for weapons before entering the "secure part of the facility." Lehman told the officers she would hold onto Moore's car keys. Moore did not have his cell phone on his person because he had left it in his car.

Van Leuven and ISP Detective Gary Tolleson ("Tolleson"), neither of whom were dressed in uniform, took Moore into an interrogation room, which required a key code for entry, and closed the door. Moore entered the room holding a bottle of water. The interrogation began at 2:49 p.m. Almost immediately, the investigators accused Moore of killing Drake, which he denied. Approximately four and a half minutes into the interrogation, Van Leuven stated: "I need to advise you of your Miranda rights too, just 'cause we are in a police station.'" Van Leuven and Tolleson then outlined the evidence the police had gathered placing Moore's truck at the scene of the murder. Van Leuven explained the difference between a premeditated killing, which would result in a first-degree murder charge, and blindly shooting through a window, which would result in a lesser charge, and told Moore, "this is your opportunity to pick which one it is." Moore stated he did not know Drake and did not shoot him.

Van Leuven said, "if you don't explain to us your intent, then we infer your intent based on what we see, which is [f]irst [d]egree [m]urder." Moore responded, "Well, I didn't shoot him. And I'm sorry, but that's - that's what it is. So, I guess if you are going to do that, then I need to

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get an attorney." Van Leuven said, "[O]K," and Tolleson and Van Leuven immediately began packing up their things to leave. Moore then asked what the point was in having him bring the gun down, to which Van Leuven said they needed an excuse to have him come to the police station. Van Leuven told Moore they were in the middle of interviewing Mick again and that Mick's house and business were being searched. Van Leuven then asked, "do you have a cell phone on ya?" Moore responded, "no" and told him it is in his car. Van Leuven said "[O]K. Sit tight. And we'll be right back with ya. Okay, I'm gonna terminate this interview at 3:05."[5] Van...

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