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Name: People v. Villasenor
Case #: C071432
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 11/12/2015

Defendant who told interrogating officer to take him home 13 times in a 14-minute span invoked his right to remain silent. Police suspected Villasenor was responsible for two separate gang-related shootings. Police took him into custody and advised him of his Miranda rights. After hours of interrogation, Villasenor requested 13 times in the span of 14 minutes to be taken home and also asked to call his parents to pick him up and take him home. The detective did not cease questioning Villasenor, who later admitted to being in the proximity of both shootings, but denied involvement. Prior to trial, Villasenor moved to exclude the statements he made. The trial court denied the motion, reasoning that Villasenor did not unambiguously invoke his right to remain silent. Villasenor was convicted of two counts of attempted murder and other related offenses. He appealed. Held: Affirmed. Once an accused waives his Miranda rights, any subsequent assertion of the right to counsel or right to remain silent during questioning must be articulated sufficiently clearly that a reasonable police officer in the circumstances would understand the statement to be an invocation of such rights. The Court of Appeal here concluded that a reasonable officer would have understood Villasenor’s repeated demands to be taken home and to have his parents called to pick him up to be an unambiguous invocation of his right to end the interrogation. The court also relied on the video of Villasenor’s interrogation to “conclude his demeanor was not that of impatience or passing frustration, but rather determination to end the interrogation.” However, the trial court’s error in admitting Villasenor’s post-invocation statements was harmless because other evidence overwhelmingly established his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.