State v. Obregon

Decision Date29 December 2021
Docket Number2019AP758-CR
CourtCourt of Appeals of Wisconsin
PartiesState of Wisconsin, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Andrew M. Obregon, Defendant-Appellant.

This opinion will not be published. See Wis. Stat. Rule 809.23(1)(b)5.

APPEAL from a judgment and an order of the circuit court for Kenosha County: Cir. Ct. No. 2015CF1041, CHAD G. KERKMAN, Judge.

Before Gundrum, P.J., Neubauer and Reilly, JJ.

Per curiam opinions may not be cited in any court of this state as precedent or authority, except for the limited purposes specified in Wis.Stat. Rule 809.23(3).


¶1 Andrew M. Obregon appeals from a judgment of conviction for various offenses, including first-degree intentional homicide, as well as from an order denying his postconviction motion seeking plea withdrawal. Obregon argues that the statements he made during three custodial interviews with police were involuntary. He also argues that his waiver of rights following the administration of Miranda warnings[1] was not knowing, intelligent, and voluntary. Finally, he asserts his statements during the second interview were obtained in violation of his Sixth Amendment right to counsel. We reject his arguments and affirm.


¶2 Obregon, a suspect in the murder of Tywon Anderson in Kenosha County, evaded police apprehension for weeks, repeatedly stealing vehicles and leading officers on high-speed chases. On October 13, 2015, Obregon severely beat a resident in the Town of Brighton and stole her vehicle, then fled to Lake County, Illinois, where the vehicle was tracked and disabled by its OnStar system. Obregon fled on foot and was apprehended after he sustained wounds to his right arm from a police gunshot and a police canine bite.

¶3 After receiving treatment at a local hospital for a short time, Obregon was transported to the Zion Police Department in Illinois, where he was interviewed by detectives from the Kenosha County Sheriff's Department. Kenosha County detectives conducted additional interviews at that location on October 15 and 16, 2015. Prior to each interview, Obregon was given Miranda warnings and waived his rights before making statements.

¶4 On November 4, 2015, the State filed a thirty-two-count criminal complaint in the Kenosha County Circuit Court charging Obregon with, among other crimes, first-degree intentional homicide for the shooting death of Anderson. Obregon filed a motion to suppress, asserting that the statements he made during the interviews on October 13, 15 and 16 were involuntary; the waivers he signed after being given Miranda warnings on all three dates were invalid; and his statements on October 15 were obtained in violation of his Fifth and Sixth Amendment right to counsel.[2]

¶5 The circuit court held an evidentiary hearing on the motion at which Kenosha County Sheriff's Department Detective Jeffrey Bliss, who was present for all three interviews in Illinois, testified. The court also reviewed the video of each interview. After articulating its findings of fact (which we discuss in detail below), the court concluded Obregon's statements were made voluntarily; Obregon had knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waived his rights following Miranda warnings during each interview and the questioning that occurred on October 15 had not violated Obregon's right to counsel.

¶6 Obregon entered into a plea agreement with the State and pled guilty to six offenses, including first-degree intentional homicide and attempted first- degree intentional homicide.[3] The remaining counts were dismissed and read in. Obregon was sentenced to life imprisonment.

¶7 Obregon subsequently filed a postconviction motion seeking to withdraw his plea, alleging ineffective assistance of counsel based on his trial counsel's failure to request judicial substitution and faulty advice from his trial counsel regarding his eligibility for extended supervision. The circuit court denied the motion.[4] Obregon now appeals the denial of his suppression motion.[5]


¶8 Obregon argues that all of his custodial statements should be suppressed because they were involuntary and obtained without a knowing, intelligent, and voluntary waiver of his rights following administration of the Miranda warnings. Additionally, as to his October 15 interview, he argues his statements were obtained in violation of his Sixth Amendment right to counsel.

¶9 "Whether evidence should be suppressed is a question of constitutional fact." State v. Brooks, 2020 WI 60, ¶7, 392 Wis.2d 402, 944 N.W.2d 832 (citation omitted). We review the circuit court's findings of historical fact under the clearly erroneous standard, but the application of constitutional principles to those facts presents a question of law that we review independently. Id. The clearly erroneous standard applies even when the appellate record includes a video recording. State v. Walli, 2011 WI.App. 86, ¶17, 334 Wis.2d 402, 799 N.W.2d 898. Obregon does not argue that any of the circuit court's findings of historical fact were clearly erroneous, and therefore this appeal involves purely questions of law.

I. Voluntariness of the Statements

¶10 Obregon first argues his statements during all three interviews were not voluntarily made. See State v. Hoppe, 2003 WI 43, ¶36, 261 Wis.2d 294, 661 N.W.2d 407 (observing that admission of involuntary statements violates a defendant's due process rights under the state and federal constitutions). Voluntariness is evaluated using the totality of the circumstances surrounding the interrogation by balancing the defendant's personal characteristics against the actions of law enforcement. State v. Dobbs, 2020 WI 64, ¶72, 392 Wis.2d 505, 945 N.W.2d 609. Improperly coercive police practices are a prerequisite to a finding of involuntariness. Id.

¶11 We agree with the circuit court that Obregon's statements were made voluntarily. Considering first Obregon's personal characteristics, the court found that Obregon was thirty-two years old and had been administered Miranda warnings by police in the past. During those prior police encounters, Obregon had at times exercised his constitutional rights and other times had waived them to give statements. He had a tenth-grade education and could read and write. Obregon did not appear impaired or confused during any of the interviews.

¶12 As to the October 13 interrogation, Obregon argues his statements were involuntary because he had been shot, bitten by a police dog, and had not slept. Obregon likens his situation to that of the defendants in Brown v. Mississippi, 297 U.S. 278 (1936), and State v. Hoyt, 21 Wis.2d 284, 128 N.W.2d 645 (1964). The defendants in those cases were, respectively, severely beaten until they signed confessions, see Brown, 297 U.S. at 282, or threatened with sleep deprivation unless they confessed, see Hoyt, 21 Wis.2d at 294-95.

¶13 Brown and Hoyt are not analogous to Obregon's situation. Obregon received medical care for his injuries and was taken to the police station only after he was cleared for release by medical professionals. No questioning occurred for several hours after Obregon arrived at the police station, during which time he was placed in an interview room, provided with food and drink, and was told that he would be given time alone to eat and relax. He requested to be released from handcuffs and was. Additionally, police responded adequately to Obregon's requests for a blanket and for something to rest his wounded arm on. Just before the questioning began, he used the bathroom and he asked for and was provided with Tylenol. Obregon appears to have slept at various times between the time he was provided with food and the time the interview commenced.[6]

¶14 As to the October 15 interview, Obregon asserts his confession was involuntary because it "was obtained by police promising (either in vain or else insincerely) to assist in the release of Mr. Obregon's mother from jail." Obregon's mother had earlier been taken into custody in Kenosha on suspicion of aiding Obregon's escape from authorities. Police tactics short of false promises usually are permissible, United States v. Villalpando, 588 F.3d 1124, 1128 (7th Cir. 2009), and Obregon points to nothing in the appellate record suggesting that law enforcement promised his mother would be released from custody if he spoke to them. To the extent that the testimony can be construed as a promise to aid in her release, Detective Bliss testified he did make efforts to that end, including by suggesting on several occasions that the prosecutor reduce her bond. Her bond was, in fact, reduced, but her family was still unable to pay the modified bond.[7]

II. Validity of the Miranda Waivers

¶15 Next, Obregon argues that the waiver of his rights following Miranda warnings was not knowing, intelligent, or voluntary. See State v. Ward, 2009 WI 60, ¶30, 318 Wis.2d 301, 767 N.W.2d 236. A waiver is valid "where it is 'the product of a free and deliberate choice rather than intimidation, coercion, or deception,' and has 'been made with a full awareness of both the nature of the right being abandoned and the consequences of the decision to abandon it.'" Id. (quoting Moran v. Burbine, 475 U.S. 412, 421 (1986)).

¶16 Obregon's arguments on this point appear twofold. First, he asserts the "trauma" to which he was subjected-referring to the injuries sustained from the shooting and dog bite, as well as the fact that he was not provided a greater opportunity to sleep-rendered the waiver involuntary.[8] For the same reasons set forth above, we reject this argument. The facts do not demonstrate that Obregon's decision to speak with police was anything other than a product of his free and deliberate choice.[9]

¶17 Secondly, Obregon...

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