Court Decision: Queens Murder Conviction Vacated Due to Miranda Violation

Appellate Division, Second Department: People v. Galvez-Marin

Queens Murder Conviction Vacated Due to Miranda Violation

At a pretrial suppression hearing, the trial court denied the defense request to suppress Mr. Galvez-Marin’s statements to law enforcement officials. The Appellate Division reversed, as the record did not support that he understood the import of the Miranda warnings.

The Court noted that the detective told Mr. Galvez-Marin, before administering the Miranda warnings, that the warnings did not “mean anything” and were “just part of the process.” In addition, because Mr. Galvez-Marin was confused as to whether he could answer the questions, there was not a demonstration that he had a full awareness of the nature of the right being abandoned and the consequences of the decision to abandon it.

The Court further found that the trial court improperly determined that Mr. Galvez-Marin was not subject to custodial interrogation. A reasonable, innocent person would not have believed he or she was free to leave the police station when he made his statements to the police, and the detective’s questions became accusatory when he asked, “why did you do it?” Furthermore, the time between the initial Miranda warning and the second warning did not purge the taint from the first interview.

Because the failure to suppress was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt, the murder conviction was vacated, the statements suppressed, and a new trial ordered.

Alice R. B. Cullina represented Mr. Galvez-Marin