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Name: People v. Gutierrez
Case #: B227606
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 09/24/2012
Subsequent History: Review granted 1/3/2013: S206365

The juvenile court properly found that 17-year old impliedly waived his Miranda rights. The 17-year appellant was convicted of murdering his aunt by stabbing her 28 times during the commission of a rape. On appeal, he contended that the trial court erred in finding that he impliedly waived his Miranda rights prior to his nearly three hour police interview. The appellate court rejected the argument and affirmed. Appellant contended that he had just been released from the hospital, was in pain, and was unable to waive his Miranda rights. A DVD of the interview showed appellant using his injured hand. It also showed he was alert, calm, and responsive to the officers’ questions. There was no evidence that his injury impaired his decision to waive his rights. Although there was no written waiver of rights, the DVD showed appellant nodding his head in response to the warnings. His conduct supported an implied waiver of his rights. Appellant’s statements, “Where’s my father?” and “I wish my father were here” were insufficient invocation of his rights to cause officers to terminate the interview. The record was devoid of evidence that appellant did not understand his rights and the consequences of speaking with the officers. Assuming, arguendo, that the appellant’s statements should have been excluded, any error would have been harmless given the strength of the evidence.

A sentence of LWOP for juvenile who murdered his aunt during a rape was not cruel and unusual punishment. Appellant argued that his LWOP sentence was cruel and unusual punishment. The appellate court found the issue forfeited for failure to object, but also rejected it on the merits. The murder was extremely brutal and appellant expressed no remorse. There was no showing that the sentence was grossly disproportionate to the crime. The appellate court also rejected appellant’s argument pursuant to Miller v. Alabama (2012) __ U.S. __ [132 S.Ct. 2455] that mandatory LWOP sentences for juveniles violates the Eighth Amendment. Here, the statute did not impose a mandatory sentence; the juvenile considered and exercised its discretion under section 190.5, subdivision (b), choosing a sentence which fit the extreme brutality of the offense.