Judges Opinions, — April 9, 2024 13:51 — 0 Comments

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, v. Jaedyn Gaines

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, v. Jaedyn Gaines

Criminal Action-Constitutional Law-Criminal Homicide-Omnibus Pretrial Motion-Juvenile Defendant-Voluntariness of Statements and Waiver of Rights-Age of Defendant-Intoxication of Defendant

Jaedyn Gaines (“Defendant”), who was charged with criminal homicide and other charges relating to the shooting of a victim on October 27, 2021 at which time Defendant was nearly seventeen (17) years of age, filed an Omnibus Pretrial Motion to suppress statements he made to law enforcement on the basis that he did not voluntarily waive his right against self incrimination pursuant to Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), because he was intoxicated due to use of marijuana and Percocet when he made the statements.

1.  The admission of evidence is a matter vested within the sound discretion of the trial court.

2.  Where a motion to suppress has been filed, the burden is upon the Commonwealth to establish that the challenged evidence is admissible by a preponderance of the evidence. 

3.  The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that no person shall be compelled to be a witness against him or herself in any criminal case. 

4.  To safeguard the constitutional privilege not to be made a witness against oneself, a law enforcement officer must administer warnings pursuant to Miranda prior to custodial interrogation. 

5.  If a defendant is informed of his or her rights under Miranda, the defendant understands those rights and makes a voluntary and knowing confession, the statements are admissible.

6.  In determining whether a defendant validly has waived Miranda rights, the Court must inquire:  (1) whether the waiver was voluntary in the sense that the defendant’s choice was not the end result of governmental pressure; and (2) whether the waiver was knowing and intelligent in that it was made with full comprehension of both the nature of the right abandoned and the consequences of the choice.

7.  In considering voluntariness of a waiver of Miranda rights by a juvenile, the Court must consider the totality of the circumstances including the age, experience, physical and psychological state and comprehension of the juvenile, the presence or absence of an interested adult, the duration and means of the interrogation, conditions attendant to the detention, the attitude of the interrogator and any factors that could affect the ability of the juvenile to withstand suggestion and coercion.

8.  When a defendant has consumed a mind altering substance, the test is whether the defendant has sufficient mental capacity at the time of making the statement to know what he or she was saying and voluntary intent to make the statement. 

9.  When evidence of impairment is present, the court must decide whether the Commonwealth has established by the preponderance of the evidence that the defendant nonetheless had sufficient cognitive awareness to understand his or her rights and decision to waive the rights.

10.  Where the record establishes that Defendant was nearly seventeen (17) years old at the time of the incident, Defendant understood that violating the law could lead to consequences based upon his previous involvement in the criminal justice system, Defendant’s parents were present with him during the interrogation, the interrogation lasted for less than 43 minutes, Defendant appeared attentive and focused and unconfused and law enforcement appeared calm, polite and interested, Defendant’s minority did not affect the voluntary, knowing and intelligent waiver of rights prior to making statements. 

11.  The record establishes that Defendant had sufficient cognitive awareness to understand his rights and voluntarily to waive them despite any substance use where Defendant appeared responsive, alert, focused and attentive during the interview, Defendant responded appropriately to questions posed, Defendant admitted to being the shooter only when presented with surveillance video footage that conflicted with his initial statements about the events, neither Defendant nor his parents indicated that Defendant was intoxicated or under the influence of substances and Defendant did not exhibit any signs of intoxication during the interview.

L.C.C.C.P. No. CP-38-CR-0000656-2022, Opinion by Charles T. Jones, Jr., Judge, March 21, 2023.

IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS

OF LEBANON COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA

CRIMINAL DIVISION

COMMONWEALTH OF                          :

PENNSYLVANIA                                     :

                                                                   :

          v.                                                       :                  CP-38-CR-00656-2022

                                                                   :

JAEDYN GAINES,                                   :

Defendant.                                                 :

ORDER

          AND NOW, this 21st day of March, 2023, after careful consideration of the record, the omnibus pretrial motion for relief is DENIED.

                                                                   BY THE COURT:

                                                                                                                   , J.

                                                                   CHARLES T. JONES, JR.

CTJ/adj

cc:     Office of the District Attorney

          R. Scot Feeman, Esquire

          Court Administration

          Anthony D. Juliani, Law Clerk

IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS

OF LEBANON COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA

CRIMINAL DIVISION

COMMONWEALTH OF                          :

PENNSYLVANIA                                     :

                                                                   :

          v.                                                       :                  CP-38-CR-00656-2022

                                                                   :

JAEDYN GAINES,                                   :

Defendant.                                                 :

APPEARANCES

Office of the District Attorney                                      For the Commonwealth

R. Scot Feeman, Esquire                                               For Defendant

OPINION BY JONES, JR., J.

          This Opinion addresses the omnibus pretrial motion for relief filed by the counsel for Jaedyn Gaines (“Defendant”).  For the reasons set forth below, the omnibus pretrial motion for relief is denied.

I.       FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

          The current question asked of this Court is whether Defendant validly waived rights when he spoke with the detectives on October 30, 2021.  See Miranda v. Arizona (“Miranda”), 384 U.S. 436 (1966).  On October 30, 2021, Defendant was interviewed by detectives regarding an alleged homicide; the interview was video recorded, audio recorded, and transcribed.  See generally Interview Recording on October 30, 2021 (“I.R.”); see generally Transcript of Interview Docket Number CP-38-CR-00656-2022 on October 30, 2021 (“I.T.”).  This Court notes that the time stated by the I.R. itself appears to be incorrectly ahead by approximately seven minutes when compared to the time stated by a detective in the I.R.; for clarity, this Court will make references to the time stated by the I.R. itself in this Opinion.  I.R. at 18:43:46, 18:51:51, 19:25:04; I.T. at 2-3, 28.

          On October 30, 2021, when the detectives entered the room for the interview, Defendant focused and attentively sat up quickly.  I.R. at 18:43:19; I.T. at 2.  Defendant was read his Miranda rights during the interview and stated he understood those rights.  I.R. at 18:44:01; I.T. at 2Defendant’s stepfather and mother were present during the interview and were given time to speak with their son privately off the record prior to the interview proceeding further.  I.R. at 18:44:26; I.T. at 2.  Defendant was nearly seventeen-years-old at the time of the incident that occurred on October 27, 2022.  I.R. at 19:20:07; I.T. at 23.

          Despite being previously advised of his Miranda rights, Defendant chose to explain his version of events to the detectives during the interview.  I.R. at 18:52:11; I.T. at 3-11.  Defendant initially alleged that his co-defendant was the person who shot O.R. and took the marijuana.  I.R. at 18:52:11; I.T. at 3-11.  Defendant responded to the detectives’ questions regarding his first version of events.  I.R. at 18:53:51; I.T. at 4-11.  When asked to explain the story again, Defendant repeated his story to the detectives.  I.R. at 19:00:21; I.T. at 11-14.  Furthermore, Defendant responded to the detectives’ questions when Defendant was repeating his story.  I.R. at 19:00:21; I.T. at 11-14.  At one point, Defendant asked for and waited for permission to stand during the retelling of his first version of events so he could demonstrate people’s positions during the shooting for the detectives.  I.R. at 19:01:41; I.T. at 12.

          The detectives briefly left the interview room, but Defendant focused and attentively sat up quickly again when the detectives later returned with additional questions.  I.R. at 19:10:59; I.T. at 14-15.  The detectives confronted Defendant with pictures of surveillance video evidence that contradicted Defendant’s version of events; the detectives accused Defendant of switching roles with his co-defendant in his story.  I.R. at 19:11:12; I.T. at 15-16.  After being presented with this evidence, Defendant admitted, “It was me.”  I.R. at 19:13:49; I.T. at 16After the accusation and the admission, Defendant continued to answer questions, and he changed his story as Defendant later alleged that he shot O.R. to save his co-defendant’s life.  I.R. at 19:15:04; I.T. at 17-23.  Defendant also admitted to being the person who took the marijuana.  I.R. at 19:15:29; I.T. at 18.

          Defendant’s mother informed the detectives that Defendant was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder because he was molested at three years old, and Defendant’s mother suggested that the harm done to Defendant’s mind should be considered.  I.R. at 19:21:14; I.T. at 24.  Defendant’s mother also stated that Defendant was “doing so good” during the time period between this incident and after he returned from being away for three years because he stole a car and committed probation violations that prolonged his time.  I.R. at 19:19:43, 19:21:50; I.T. at 22-25.  As the interview concluded, Defendant stood up and hugged his stepfather and mother.  I.R. at 19:25:44; I.T. at 28.  The entire I.R., including the times when the detectives walked out of the interview room, was only forty-three minutes and twenty-five seconds in length.  I.R. at 18:42:50, 19:26:15; I.T. at 2, 28.  During the entire interview, Defendant appeared responsive and alert, Defendant did not exhibit any signs of intoxication, and nobody suggested that Defendant was intoxicated.  See generally I.R.; see generally I.T.

          On October 30, 2021, Defendant was charged with criminal homicide, three counts of robbery, four counts of criminal conspiracy, and related firearms offenses.  These charges were the result of Defendant and his co-defendant allegedly robbing and shooting O.R. on October 27, 2021.  O.R. died as a result of the incident.  On June 16, 2022, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (“Commonwealth”) filed the first amended information which charged Defendant with one count of criminal homicide, three counts of robbery, three counts of criminal conspiracy regarding robbery, one count of firearms not to be carried without a license, and one count of possession of firearms by a minor.  On September 9, 2022, Defendant filed an omnibus pretrial motion for relief which challenged the statements given to the detectives on October 30, 2021.  Defendant alleged that he was intoxicated when he was interviewed by the detectives and that he did not give a valid waiver of his Miranda rights.

          A pretrial hearing regarding Defendant’s omnibus pretrial motion for relief was held on November 30, 2022, and the pretrial hearing was transcribed.  See generally Transcript of Pretrial Hearing Docket Number CP-38-CR-00656-2022 on November 30, 2022 (“H.T.”).  This Court notes that the Commonwealth filed an objection to the transcript on December 15, 2022, regarding some minor disagreements about phrasing and that this Court considered the Commonwealth’s objection to the transcript.  At the pretrial hearing, Defendant and his stepfather testified that Defendant was intoxicated on the day of the interview.  Id. at 3-13.  Defendant testified that he smoked about a quarter of an ounce of marijuana and about ten milligrams of Percocet around 9:00AM to 11:00AM on October 30, 2021.  Id. at 8-13.  Defendant stated that, for the rest of the day, he was unable to understand what was going on, the detectives talking to him, and what the purpose of that was.  Id. at 10.  Defendant’s stepfather testified that Defendant had the appearance of being intoxicated because Defendant’s eyes looked a certain way, Defendant’s speech sounded intoxicated, and Defendant smelled of marijuana.  Id. at 6.  Defendant’s stepfather also stated that Defendant smoked marijuana all the time.  Id.

          Regarding how the detectives were informed, Defendant testified that he said “yeah” when he was asked at the house whether he was intoxicated.  Id. at 9.  However, on cross-examination, Defendant stated that, when he was asked at the house whether he was intoxicated, “I smiled and shook my head.”  Id. at 10.  Defendant also could not remember who asked him whether he was intoxicated.  Id. at 10-11.  Conversely, Defendant’s stepfather testified that Defendant stated, “I’m high as ‘F’” when Defendant replied to the detectives asking whether Defendant was intoxicated.  Id. at 6.  Additionally, on cross-examination, Defendant’s stepfather admitted he did not attempt to prevent Defendant from speaking to the detectives.  Id. at 7.

          Detective Ryan Mong (“Detective Mong”), Detective William Walton (“Detective Walton”), and Corrections Officer Israel Matos-Rodriguez (“Corrections Officer Matos-Rodriguez”) all testified in opposition to the omnibus pretrial motion for relief at the pretrial hearing.  Id. at 13-33Detective Mong testified about his background and his experience with intoxicated people.  Id. at 14-15, 20Detective Mong stated that he was present when Defendant was arrested around 6:00PM in the evening.  Id. at 17-18.  Detective Mong testified that his role in Defendant’s arrest was to make contact with and focus on Defendant rather than to focus on the perimeter.  Id. at 19.  Detective Mong stated there was no odor of marijuana in the house or on Defendant’s person.  Id. at 23.  Detective Mong testified that, when Defendant was arrested, Defendant did not make any comments that he was intoxicated or high.  Id. at 18.

          Detective Mong also testified that, when Defendant was interviewed, Defendant did not make any comments that he was intoxicated or high.  Id. at 20.  Detective Mong testified about the various signs of intoxication and stated that Defendant showed none of those signs on October 30, 2021.  Id. at 20-22.  Detective Mong testified that Defendant was advised of his Miranda rights and given an opportunity to privately speak to his parents.  Id. at 15-16, 24.  Detective Mong noted that Defendant’s parents did not bring up the issue of Defendant being intoxicated.  Id. at 24.  Detective Mong also noted that Defendant changed his story after he was presented with more evidence during the interview.  Id. at 24.  Detective Mong testified that, if had he believed that Defendant was under the influence, then he would have stopped the interview.  Id. at 23-24.  On cross-examination, Detective Mong admitted that he is unable to exactly tell what any one person is actually thinking or perceiving and that Defendant’s demeanor was docile during the course of the interview.  Id. at 23.

          Detective Walton testified about his background and his experience with intoxicated people.  Id. at 25-26.  Detective Walton stated that he was on duty and present during the Defendant’s arrest.  Id. at 26-27.  Detective Walton testified that Defendant was arrested around late afternoon/early evening.  Id. at 27.  Detective Walton stated that the interview followed within approximately an hour of taking Defendant into custody.  Id.  Detective Walton testified that he was also present during the interview.  Id.  Detective Walton stated that Defendant voluntarily asked what the detectives wanted to know and offered a story of what happened during the interview.  Id. at 28-29.

          Detective Walton testified that Defendant did not appear intoxicated to him.  Id. at 26.  Detective Walton stated that he did not observe Defendant displaying any symptoms of intoxication.  Id.  Detective Walton testified that Defendant did not smell of marijuana.  Id. at 27.  Detective Walton stated that Defendant did not state that he was intoxicated.  Id.  Detective Walton testified that he did not hear anyone ask Defendant whether he was intoxicated.  Id. at 26-27.  Detective Walton stated that the detectives did not believe Defendant was intoxicated and therefore did not ask Defendant related questions.  Id. at 28.  On cross-examination, Detective Walton admitted that he and others cannot fully appreciate or perceive how someone else is dealing with what is going on at the time.  Id. at 29.

          Corrections Officer Matos-Rodriguez testified that he was the intake officer for Defendant at the Lebanon County Prison.  Id. at 30-31.  Corrections Officer Matos-Rodriguez noted that the suicide screening form used during the admission process showed that Defendant answered no to the question about him being under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  Id. at 31-32.  Corrections Officer Matos-Rodriguez stated that this suicide screening form is used immediately as soon as the person being detained walks in the door.  Id. at 32.  On cross examination, Corrections Officer Matos-Rodriguez admitted that the suicide screening form also showed that Defendant answered yes to the question about him having a history of drugs and/or alcohol.  Id. at 32-33.

          At the conclusion of the pretrial hearing, this Court permitted Defendant and the Commonwealth to each file a brief to support their respective positions.  The Commonwealth timely filed its brief on January 6, 2023.  Defendant timely filed his brief on January 9, 2023.  This matter is ripe for disposition.

II.     STANDARD OF REVIEW

          The defendant’s attorney, or the defendant if unrepresented, may make a motion to the court to suppress any evidence alleged to have been obtained in violation of the defendant’s rights.  Pa.R.Crim.P. 581(A)Where a motion to suppress has been filed, the burden is on the Commonwealth to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the challenged evidence is admissible.  Pa.R.Crim.P. 581(H); Commonwealth v. Ruey, 892 A.2d 802, 807 (Pa. 2006)The suppression of evidence is only appropriate where a violation upon which the motion to suppress is based touches upon fundamental constitutional concerns, was conducted in bad faith, or has substantially prejudiced the defendant.  Commonwealth v. Gentile, 632 A.2d 573, 576 (Pa. Super. 1993).  The admission of evidence is a matter vested within the sound discretion of the trial court.  Commonwealth v. Weakley, 972 A.2d 1182, 1188 (Pa. Super. 2009).  Questions of credibility and the weight to be accorded to witness testimony are issues within the sound discretion of the trial court.  In re R.P., 918 A.2d 115, 117 (Pa. Super. 2007).

          The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States provides that no person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.  U.S. Const. amend. V.  In order to safeguard the constitutional privilege not to be compelled to incriminate oneself, police must apprise a person of his right to remain silent, that anything he says can be used against him, and of his right to have an attorney, whether appointed or retained, present during questioning before subjecting a person to custodial interrogation.  Miranda at 467-70A law enforcement officer must administer Miranda warnings prior to custodial interrogation.  Commonwealth v. Schwing, 964 A.2d 8, 11 (Pa. Super. 2008).  The standard for determining whether police have initiated a custodial interrogation is an objective one based on a totality of the circumstances with due consideration given to the reasonable impression conveyed to the person interrogated.  Id.  Custodial interrogation has been defined as questioning initiated by law enforcement officers after a person has been taken into custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom of action in any significant way.  Id.

          The prosecution may not use statements, whether exculpatory or inculpatory, stemming from interrogation of the defendant unless it demonstrates the use of procedural safeguards effective to secure the privilege against self-incrimination.  Miranda at 444.  Physical evidence recovered as a result of a violation of the right against self-incrimination is also inadmissible.  Commonwealth v. Lukach, 195 A.3d 176, 193 (Pa. 2018).  If a defendant is informed of his rights, and he understands them and still makes a voluntary and knowing confession, then the statement is admissible in a murder prosecution.  Commonwealth v. Baker, 614 A.2d 663, 666 (Pa. 1992).

          In considering whether a defendant has validly waived his Miranda rights, the trial court engages in a two-pronged analysis: (1) whether the waiver was voluntary, in the sense that the defendant’s choice was not the end result of governmental pressure; and (2) whether the waiver was knowing and intelligent, in the sense that it was made with full comprehension of both the nature of the right being abandoned and the consequence of that choice.  Commonwealth v. Pruitt, 951 A.2d 307, 318 (Pa. 2008).  The right against self-incrimination is personal and thus cannot be invoked by another.  In Interest of N.B., 187 A.3d 941, 945 (Pa. Super. 2018).  The Superior Court of Pennsylvania has previously recognized the innate disadvantages associated with the immaturity of most youth and the need to balance those considerations against the interests of society and justice.  Id.  Courts employ a totality of circumstances analysis regarding the waiver of rights by juveniles and the voluntariness of juvenile confessions.  Id.  Among those factors are the juvenile’s youth, experience, comprehension, and the presence or absence of an interested adult.  Id.  Other factors to consider in this context also include: (1) the duration and means of the interrogation; (2) the juvenile’s physical and psychological state; (3) the conditions attendant to the detention; (4) the attitude of the interrogator; and (5) any and all other factors that could drain the juvenile’s ability to withstand suggestion and coercion.  Id.

          Intoxication of the declarant is relevant to prove both the unreliability of the statement because he did not have sufficient mental capacity to comprehend his statement or intend to make it and to prove the involuntariness of his statement because he was too intoxicated to make a knowing and intelligent waiver of his right to remain silent.  Commonwealth v. Grassmyer, 402 A.2d 1052, 1054 (Pa. Super. 1979).  The fact that an accused has been drinking does not automatically invalidate his subsequent incriminating statements.  Commonwealth v. Adams, 561 A.2d 793, 795 (Pa. Super. 1989).  The test is whether he had sufficient mental capacity at the time of giving his statement to know what he was saying and to have voluntarily intended to say it.  Id.  Recent imbibing or the existence of a hangover does not make his confession inadmissible but goes only to the weight to be accorded to it.  Id.  There is no per se rule of suppression based upon a mere showing of cognitive impairment.  Commonwealth v. Britcher, 563 A.2d 502, 507 (Pa. Super. 1989).  Rather, when evidence of impairment is present, it is for the suppression court to decide whether the Commonwealth has established by a preponderance of the evidence that the suspect nonetheless had sufficient cognitive awareness to understand the Miranda warnings and to choose to waive his rights.  Commonwealth v. Ventura, 975 A.2d 1128, 1138 (Pa. Super. 2009).  The waiver of Miranda rights has been upheld where a defendant had sufficient mental capacity at the time of giving his statement to know what he was saying because he was cognizant of time and place, had no difficulty walking, did not slur his speech, and, most tellingly, demonstrated that he was capable of making decisions when he chose not to answer certain questions because he feared incrimination.  Id. at 1138-39.

III.    DISCUSSION

          Here, Defendant’s attorney filed an omnibus pretrial motion for relief to this Court on September 9, 2022, to suppress evidence alleged to have been obtained in violation of Defendant’s rights.  Pa.R.Crim.P. 581(A).  As such, the burden is on the Commonwealth to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the challenged evidence is admissible.  Pa.R.Crim.P. 581(H); Commonwealth v. Ruey at 807.  Defendant alleged suppression of evidence is appropriate because his Miranda rights were violated.  Commonwealth v. Gentile at 576.  This Court disagrees with Defendant on whether to suppress the evidence because this Court finds that the Commonwealth established by a preponderance of the evidence that the challenged evidence is admissible.  Pa.R.Crim.P. 581(H); Commonwealth v. Ruey at 807; Commonwealth v. Weakley at 1188.  This Court found Detective Mong, Detective Walton, and Corrections Officer Matos-Rodriguez to be more credible than Defendant and Defendant’s stepfather, especially because Defendant appeared responsive and alert during the interview, because Defendant lied during the interview in an attempt to lessen his culpability, and because the testimony of Defendant and the testimony of his stepfather were not consistent with respect to how Defendant allegedly informed the detectives he was intoxicated.  In re R.P. at 117; see generally I.R.; see generally I.T.; H.T. at 6-7, 9-10.

          The detectives were required to advise Defendant of his Miranda rights because Defendant was subjected to custodial interrogation, and this Court notes that the detectives did advise Defendant of his Miranda rights.  U.S. Const. amend. V.; Miranda at 467-70; Commonwealth v. Schwing at 11; I.R. at 18:44:01; I.T. at 2; H.T. at 15-16, 24.  Defendant was subjected to custodial interrogation because he was questioned by the detectives who initiated that encounter after Defendant was arrested, handcuffed, and placed in the interview room.  Commonwealth v. Schwing at 11; see generally I.R.; see generally I.T.; H.T. at 17-18, 26-27.

          This Court finds that the confession is admissible and that his Miranda rights were validly waived because Defendant was informed of his rights, he understood his rights, and he still made a voluntary and knowing confession when he explained his version of events.  Commonwealth v. Baker at 666; I.R. at 18:44:01, 18:52:11, 19:00:21; I.T. at 2-14; H.T. at 15-16, 24When considering whether Defendant validly waived his Miranda rights, this Court engaged in a two-pronged analysis: (1) whether Defendant’s waiver was voluntary, and (2) whether Defendant’s waiver was knowing and intelligent.  Commonwealth v. Pruitt at 318.

          Regarding the interaction between a voluntary, knowing, and intelligent waiver and minority, this Court notes that Defendant’s right against self-incrimination is personal and thus cannot be invoked by another, including Defendant’s parents.  In Interest of N.B. at 945.  That said, while Defendant’s parents were present during the interview, the detectives advised Defendant of his Miranda rights directly and asked if he understood his rights.  Id.; I.R. at 18:44:01; I.T. at 2; H.T. at 15-16, 24.  This Court employed a totality of the circumstances analysis regarding Defendant’s waiver of his rights and the voluntariness of his confession.  In Interest of N.B. at 945.

          This Court considered: that Defendant was nearly seventeen-years-old at the time of the incident, that Defendant has post-traumatic stress disorder because he was molested, that Defendant knew violating a law could lead to consequences because he was punished for three years when he previously stole a car and committed probation violations, that he chose to lie to the detectives by providing a different version of events to the detectives, and that Defendant’s parents were sitting with him in the interview room.  Id.; I.R. at 18:44:26, 19:13:49, 19:15:04, 19:15:29, 19:19:43, 19:20:07, 19:21:14, 19:21:50; I.T. at 2, 16-25.  This Court also considered other factors including: that the entire interview was less than forty-three minutes and twenty-five seconds in length, and it began at 6:42PM; that Defendant seemed healthy overall; that Defendant was interviewed with his parents present, he had the ability to speak with them privately, and Defendant was willing to speak with the detectives during the entire interview; that the detectives were calm, polite, and interested; and that Defendant was focused rather than confused, was able to answer questions asked of him, did not slur his words, understood the situation, asked for permission to stand and waited until he was given the permission to do so.  In Interest of N.B. at 945; see generally I.R.; see generally I.T.  Overall, this Court finds that Defendant’s minority did not affect his voluntary, knowing, and intelligent waiver of his Miranda rights.  Commonwealth v. Pruitt at 318; In Interest of N.B. at 945.

          Regarding the interaction between a voluntary, knowing, and intelligent waiver and intoxication, this Court notes that the intoxication of Defendant would be relevant to prove both the unreliability of his confession and to prove the involuntariness of his confession.  Commonwealth v. Grassmyer at 1054However, this Court also notes that the fact that Defendant had allegedly been using marijuana and Percocet does not automatically invalidate his subsequent incriminating statements.  Commonwealth v. Adams at 795.  The test is whether Defendant had sufficient mental capacity at the time of giving his confession to know what he was saying and to have voluntarily intended to say it.  Id.  Recent intoxication would not make Defendant’s confession inadmissible but goes only to the weight to be accorded to it.  Id.  This Court notes that there is no per se rule of suppression based upon a mere showing of cognitive impairment.  Commonwealth v. Britcher at 507.

          Because Defendant and Defendant’s stepfather presented testimony of Defendant’s impairment, this Court had to decide whether the Commonwealth had established by a preponderance of the evidence that Defendant nonetheless had sufficient cognitive awareness to understand the Miranda warnings and to choose to waive his rights.  Ventura at 1138.  This Court considered the following during the review of the interview: that Defendant appeared responsive and alert during the interview; that Defendant focused and attentively sat up quickly when the detectives entered the room for the interview; that Defendant responded to the detectives’ questions regarding his first version of events; that Defendant responded to the detectives’ questions when Defendant was repeating his first story; that Defendant asked for and waited for permission to stand during the retelling of his first version of events so he could demonstrate people’s positions during the shooting for the detectives; that when the detectives returned to the room with additional questions, Defendant focused and attentively sat up quickly again; that Defendant admitted to being the shooter only after being presented with pictures of the surveillance video evidence; that Defendant continued to answer questions and subsequently changed his story to him shooting O.R. to save his co-defendant’s life; that Defendant stood up and hugged his stepfather and mother as the interview concluded; that, during the entire interview, Defendant did not exhibit any signs of intoxication such as slurred speech, and that, during the entire interview, nobody suggested that Defendant was intoxicated even though Defendant’s mother made sure to inform the detectives that Defendant was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder because he was molested at three-years-old.  Id.; see generally I.R.; see generally I.T.  These facts provide evidence that Defendant did have sufficient mental capacity to comprehend his confession, that he intended to make his confession, and that he was not too intoxicated to make a knowing and intelligent waiver of his Miranda rights.  Commonwealth v. Grassmyer at 1054.

          Additionally, this Court considered the following testimony during the pretrial hearing: that Defendant testified that he smoked about a quarter of an ounce of marijuana and about ten milligrams of Percocet around 9:00AM to 11:00AM on October 30, 2021; that Defendant stated that, for the rest of the day, he was unable to understand what was going on, the detectives talking to him, and what the purpose of that was; that Defendant’s stepfather testified that Defendant had the appearance of being intoxicated; that Defendant’s stepfather also stated that Defendant smoked marijuana all the time; that the testimony of Defendant and the testimony of his stepfather were not consistent with respect to how Defendant informed the detectives he was intoxicated; that Detective Mong testified about his background and his experience with intoxicated people; that Detective Mong stated there was no odor of marijuana in the house or on Defendant’s person; that Detective Mong testified that, when Defendant was arrested, Defendant did not make any comments that he was intoxicated or high; that Detective Mong also testified that, when Defendant was interviewed, Defendant did not make any comments that he was intoxicated or high; that Detective Mong testified about the various signs of intoxication and stated that Defendant showed none of those signs on October 30, 2021; that Detective Mong noted that Defendant’s parents did not bring up the issue of Defendant being intoxicated; that Detective Mong also noted that Defendant changed his story after he was presented with more evidence during the interview; that Detective Mong testified that, if had he believed that Defendant was under the influence, then he would have stopped the interview.  Commonwealth v. Ventura at 1138; H.T. at 6-15, 18, 20-24.

          Furthermore, this Court also considered the following testimony during the pretrial hearing: that Detective Walton testified about his background and his experience with intoxicated people; that Detective Walton stated that Defendant voluntarily asked what the detectives wanted to know and offered a story of what happened during the interview; that Detective Walton testified that Defendant did not appear intoxicated to him; that Detective Walton stated that he did not observe Defendant displaying any symptoms of intoxication; that Detective Walton testified that Defendant did not smell of marijuana; that Detective Walton stated that Defendant did not state that he was intoxicated; that Detective Walton testified that he did not hear anyone ask Defendant whether he was intoxicated; that Detective Walton stated that the detectives did not believe Defendant was intoxicated and therefore did not ask Defendant related questions; that Corrections Officer Matos-Rodriguez noted that the suicide screening form used during the admission process showed that Defendant answered no to the question about him being under the influence of alcohol or drugs; and that Corrections Officer Matos-Rodriguez admitted on cross-examination that the suicide screening form also showed that Defendant answered yes to the question about him having a history of drugs and/or alcohol.  Commonwealth v. Ventura at 1138; H.T. at 24-29, 31-33.  The facts from the pretrial hearing overall provide evidence that Defendant did have sufficient mental capacity to comprehend his confession, that he intended to make his confession, and that he was not too intoxicated to make a knowing and intelligent waiver of his Miranda rights.  Commonwealth v. Grassmyer at 1054.

          Defendant’s case is similar to Commonwealth v. Ventura, and Defendant’s wavier of Miranda rights should be upheld as well.  Commonwealth v. Ventura at 1138-39; see generally I.R.; see generally I.T.; H.T. at 13-33.  In Commonwealth v. Ventura, the defendant was found to have had sufficient mental capacity at the time of giving his statement to know what he was saying as testimony revealed that the defendant was cognizant of time and place, had no difficulty walking, did not slur his speech, and, most tellingly, demonstrated that he was capable of making decisions when he chose not to answer certain questions because he feared incrimination.  Commonwealth v. Ventura at 1138-39.  In this case, Defendant was found to have had sufficient mental capacity at the time of giving his statement to know what he was saying as Defendant similarly was cognizant of time and place, had no difficulty walking, did not slur his speech, and, most tellingly, demonstrated that he was capable of making decisions when he initially chose to lie to the detectives when telling his story because Defendant tried to lessen his culpability.  Commonwealth v. Ventura at 1138-39; see generally I.R.; see generally I.T.; H.T. at 13-33.  Overall, this Court finds that Defendant’s possible intoxication, if any, did not affect his voluntary, knowing, and intelligent waiver of his Miranda rights.  Commonwealth v. Pruitt at 318.  Therefore, this Court holds that Defendant validly waived his Miranda rights and that his omnibus pretrial motion for relief is denied.

IV.    CONCLUSION

          Therefore, for the aforementioned reasons, Defendant’s omnibus pretrial motion for relief is denied.  A concomitant order will be entered consistent with the foregoing.

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