STATE v. ALBERTO GARCIA, SC 18465
Judicial District of Waterbury
Criminal; Miranda; Whether Defendant was in Custody when he made Inculpatory Statements to Police; Whether Certified Interpreter must be Provided to any Non-English Speaking Person who is Subjected to an Interrogation at a Police Station. In 2007, three individuals robbed a convenience store in Waterbury. In connection with that incident, the defendant was charged with robbery in the first degree and conspiracy to commit robbery in the first degree. At his trial, the state sought to introduce certain inculpatory statements that the defendant had allegedly made to a police detective, George Tirado, at the Waterbury police station. The defendant moved to suppress those statements, arguing that he did not voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently waive his rights pursuant to Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). He maintained that the statements were the product of police coercion in that Tirado punched him in the face and broke one of his fingers after he told Tirado that he did not know anything about the robbery. He further claimed, among other things, that because he primarily spoke Spanish, he was entitled to the services of a neutral interpreter given that an oral confession that he had purportedly provided was transcribed in English by Tirado who, due to his active involvement in the robbery investigation, was an unreliable translator notwithstanding that he spoke both English and Spanish. In denying the motion to suppress, the trial court first noted that any statement made by an accused during a custodial interrogation must be excluded from evidence unless the accused was advised of his or her Miranda rights and voluntarily waived them. It then determined that although the defendant was subjected to a police interrogation, he was not in the custody of the police when the statements were made. It reasoned that the defendant had voluntarily gone to the police station in order to convince the police that although he was involved in the convenience store robbery, he did not participate in other robberies that his coconspirators were suspected of having committed. It further decided that even if the defendant had been in custody during the interrogation, the evidence demonstrated that he was twice advised of his Miranda rights in Spanish and that he voluntarily waived those rights. It also rejected the defendant's claim that Tirado had assaulted him, finding that the defendant's booking photograph, which was taken after the interrogation, revealed no sign of an assault and that contrary to the defendant's testimony, he did not state during his arraignment that he had been assaulted by a Waterbury police officer. After the defendant was convicted as charged, he filed this appeal, arguing, among other things, that his Miranda rights were violated and that the Supreme Court should invoke its supervisory authority to require that a certified interpreter be provided to a non-English speaking person who is subjected to an interrogation at a police station.