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State v. Castillo

Supreme Court of Connecticut

July 3, 2018

STATE OF CONNECTICUT
v.
WILLIAM CASTILLO

          Argued November 6, 2017

         Procedural History

         Substitute information charging the defendant with the crimes of attempt to commit robbery in the first degree and attempt to commit robbery in the second degree, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Litchfield, where the court, Danaher, J., denied the defendant's motion to suppress certain evidence; thereafter, the case was tried to the jury before Danaher, J.; verdict and judgment of guilty, from which the defendant appealed to the Appellate Court, Keller, Prescott and Harper, Js., which affirmed the judgment of the trial court, and the defendant, on the granting of certification, appealed to this court. Affirmed.

          Richard Emanuel, for the appellant (defendant).

          Nancy L. Chupak, senior assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were David S. Shepack, state's attorney, and Terri Sonnemann, senior assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (state).

          Palmer, McDonald, Robinson, D'Auria, Mullins and Kahn, Js. [*]

          OPINION

          KAHN, J.

         In this certified appeal, the defendant, William Castillo, appeals from the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming the judgment of conviction, rendered after a jury trial, of attempt to commit robbery in the first degree in violation of General Statutes §§ 53a-49 and 53a-134 (a) (3), and attempt to commit robbery in the second degree in violation of General Statutes §§ 53a-49 and 53a-135 (a) (1) (A).[1] The defendant claims that the Appellate Court improperly (1) concluded that, during his in-home interrogation by the police, he was not in custody for purposes of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 478-79, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966), and (2) declined to exercise its supervisory authority ‘‘to adopt a new rule governing the admissibility of statements obtained during the interrogation of juveniles.'' State v. Castillo, 165 Conn.App. 703, 729, 140 A.3d 301 (2016).[2] Because we conclude that the Appellate Court properly determined that the defendant was not in custody, we affirm the judgment of the Appellate Court. Interpreting the third certified question as a request by the defendant to exercise our supervisory authority to adopt his requested rule, we decline to do so.

         The Appellate Court set forth the following relevant facts and procedural history. ‘‘On March 23, 2012, the defendant was a student at Torrington High School, and was less than one month from his seventeenth birthday. At about 8:30 p.m. on that date, he and several other teenagers left a high school dodgeball game together in a Jeep Grand Cherokee. The defendant and his friends spotted a group of middle school students leaving a minimart on foot, and they decided to ‘jump' the younger boys and steal their money. The older group of teenagers followed the three middle school students, eventually stopping the Jeep in front of them. After exiting the Jeep, the defendant and his friend assaulted the younger boys in an attempt to rob them. The defendant grabbed one of the boys, Liam, and pushed him into a nearby parked vehicle. He held a screwdriver to Liam's abdomen and demanded his money. [When Liam said that he did not have any money on him, the defendant kicked his legs out from under him, causing him to fall to the ground.] When the defendant and his friends discovered that the younger boys had no money, they fled in the Jeep.

         ‘‘Several neighbors witnessed all or part of the incident and gave statements to the police, who had responded to a report of an assault. Those statements included a description of the Jeep that the defendant and his friends were using and a partial license plate number. The police also later interviewed the victims, who, although unable to identify their attackers because they had disguised themselves by partially concealing their faces with their T-shirts, gave partial descriptions.

         ‘‘At about the time of the incident in question, other police officers spotted a Jeep traveling at a high rate of speed in the vicinity. They followed the vehicle into an apartment complex at which time they initiated a stop, eventually identifying the passengers, including the defendant. Although the police were aware of the recent assault, they did not believe that they had enough evidence to arrest or otherwise detain the occupants of the Jeep.

         ‘‘A week or so following the incident, the police received information that led them to believe that the occupants of the Jeep that they had stopped at the apartment complex were the same group that had attempted to rob the middle school boys. Police detectives interviewed each of the occupants [whom] they had previously identified during the traffic stop.

         ‘‘Detective Todd Fador, the lead investigator, first went to the defendant's apartment at 330 Highland Avenue on April 10, 2012, for the purpose of conducting an interview with the defendant; however, he found the defendant alone at that time. Because of the defendant's age, Fador would not conduct an interview without a parent present. Fador told the defendant that he would return another time and left a business card, which the defendant gave to his mother, Yocasta Monegro, thereby alerting her that the police had stopped by her home.

         ‘‘Fador returned to the defendant's home on April 13, 2012, at approximately 5 p.m. Monegro, Monegro's boyfriend, two younger children, and the defendant were home at that time. Fador was accompanied by another detective, Keith Dablaine, and Officer Angel Rios. Fador had brought Rios along because Rios was fluent in Spanish, and, at their initial meeting on April 10, 2012, the defendant had told Fador that Monegro did not speak English.[3] Fador and Dablaine carried side-arms and wore plain clothes with badges around their necks. Rios was dressed in a police uniform and also wore a sidearm.

         ‘‘Monegro answered the door, at which point Rios explained to her, in Spanish, that the purpose of their visit was to speak with the defendant, who had been identified as a suspect. The interview of the defendant was conducted in the living room. The room had a sofa, a love seat, and a chair. In addition to the main entrance to the room, it had two other doors. The defendant was not immediately present when the police arrived, but Monegro indicated that she would get him. When the defendant entered the room, Fador advised the defendant and Monegro of their juvenile and parental rights, respectively. Rios translated Fador's advisement into Spanish. The defendant was presented with a juvenile waiver form that advised him of his rights, including his right to remain silent, to consult with an attorney, and to stop answering questions at any time. The defendant initialed six separate paragraphs on the form and signed the form. Monegro was given a parental consent form that contained a similar advisement of rights in English, which Rios translated for her prior to her initialing and signing the form. The defendant was calm throughout this procedure.

         ‘‘As the trial court stated in its memorandum of decision denying the motion to suppress, after the waiver forms were signed, Fador ‘verbally advised the defendant that he was free to ask the officers to leave, that he was free to stop speaking to the officers, and that he did not have to speak to the officers at all.[4] . . . [T]he defendant did not ask any questions about his rights, he did not appear to be confused, and he said that he understood his rights.'

         ‘‘ ‘The defendant agreed to give a statement, asking Fador to write it out. [Fador] did so, stopping every few sentences to give [Rios] an opportunity to translate the defendant's statements to [Monegro]. The defendant was cooperative and did not appear to be worried, although it was apparent that [Monegro] was growing increasingly upset as her son progressed with his statement. . . . After the defendant finished making his statement, he reviewed what [Fador] had written and then signed the statement. . . . The entire visit took between forty-five minutes and one hour. At no time did anyone ask the officers to stop questioning the defendant or to leave the home. . . .'

         ‘‘ ‘[N]one of the officers advised the defendant that his involvement in the robbery could ultimately lead to his deportation. . . . [W]hen [Monegro] asked about the risk of deportation, [Rios] replied that such an action is not within his jurisdiction but is, rather, an issue for the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.' . . . Although the defendant confessed, first orally and then in writing, to having participated in the events of March 23, 2012, and having attempted to steal money from one of the middle school students, he denied having used any weapon. The defendant was not arrested at that time, and the detectives and Rios left the apartment.'' (Footnotes added and omitted.) State v. Castillo, supra, 165 Conn.App. 706-10.

         Approximately one month later, on May 10, 2012, the defendant was arrested pursuant to a juvenile arrest warrant and charged with various delinquent acts, including robbery in the first degree in violation of § 53a-134. Because he was charged with committing a class B felony, robbery in the first degree, the case was then automatically transferred to the regular criminal docket pursuant to General Statutes (Rev. to 2011) § 46b-127 (a) and then to the part A docket in the Litchfield judicial district. The defendant subsequently entered pro form a pleas of not guilty to certain of the charges underlying the juvenile arrest warrant. Prior to jury selection, the state filed a long form information charging the defendant in two counts with robbery in the first degree and robbery in the second degree. The defendant entered pleas of not guilty on both counts.

         ‘‘On August 30, 2013, the defendant filed a motion to suppress his April 13, 2012 oral and written statements to the police, arguing that any waiver of his Miranda rights was not knowingly, intelligently, or voluntarily given, and, even if the police satisfied Miranda, his statements were obtained involuntarily in violation of his due process rights under the state and federal constitutions. The state filed an opposition arguing that Miranda warnings were not necessary in the present case because the defendant was not ‘in custody' when the challenged statements were made and there simply was no evidence of any police coercion or other police activity necessary to support the defendant's due process claim. The court, Danaher, J., conducted a hearing on the motion to suppress, at which time the court heard testimony from Fador, Rios, and Monegro. Following the hearing, on September 24, 2013, the court issued a written memorandum of decision agreeing with the arguments of the state and denying the motion to suppress.

         ‘‘Prior to trial, on September 30, 2013, the state filed a substitute long form information, amending the charges against the defendant to one count of attempt to commit first degree robbery in violation of §§ 53a-49 and 53a-134 (a) (3), and one count of attempt to commit second degree robbery in violation of §§ 53a-49 and 53a-135 (a) (1) (A). The defendant pleaded not guilty to those charges, and the case proceeded to trial, following which the jury found the defendant guilty of both counts. The court sentenced the defendant to a total effective term of five years imprisonment, suspended after eighteen months, with five years of probation.'' Id., 711-12.

         The defendant appealed to the Appellate Court, claiming, inter alia, that the trial court improperly denied his motion to suppress because his statements were obtained in violation of his constitutional rights. Specifically, the defendant claimed that (1) the police subjected him to a custodial interrogation without providing him with adequate Miranda warnings, (2) the trial court's finding that he was home when the officers arrived was clearly erroneous, and (3) the Appellate Court should exercise its supervisory authority to issue a prophylactic rule requiring that juvenile waiver forms inform a juvenile that his statements may be used against him not only in juvenile proceedings, but also in adult criminal proceedings, should his case be transferred.[5] Id., 705-706. The Appellate Court concluded that the trial court properly determined that the defendant was not in custody when he gave the statements and that the finding that the defendant was home when the police arrived to question him was not clearly erroneous. See id., 721-22. The court declined to exercise its supervisory authority to issue a prophylactic rule requiring the waiver forms to warn that any statements could be used against a juvenile in adult criminal proceedings, following a transfer. Id., 729. This certified appeal followed. See footnote 2 of this opinion.

         The standard of review for a motion to suppress is well established. ‘‘A finding of fact will not be disturbed unless it is clearly erroneous in view of the evidence and pleadings in the whole record. . . . [W]hen a question of fact is essential to the outcome of a particular legal determination that implicates a defendant's constitutional rights, [however] and the credibility of witnesses is not the primary issue, our customary deference to the trial court's factual findings is tempered by a scrupulous examination of the record to ascertain that the trial court's factual findings are supported by substantial evidence. . . . [W]here the legal conclusions of the court are challenged, [our review is plenary, and] we must determine whether they are legally and logically correct and whether they find support in the facts set out in the memorandum of decision. . . .

         ‘‘Notwithstanding our responsibility to examine the record scrupulously, it is well established that we may not substitute our judgment for that of the trial court when it comes to evaluating the credibility of a witness. . . . It is the exclusive province of the trier of fact to weigh conflicting testimony and make determinations of credibility, crediting some, all or none of any given witness' testimony. . . . Questions of whether to believe or to disbelieve a competent witness are beyond our review. As a reviewing court, we may not retry the case or pass on the credibility of witnesses. . . . We must defer to the trier of fact's assessment of the credibility of the witnesses that is made on the basis of its firsthand observation of their conduct, demeanor and attitude.'' (Internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Kendrick, 314 Conn. 212, 223, 100 A.3d 821 (2014).

         I

         We first address the defendant's claim that the Appellate Court improperly concluded that he was not in custody for purposes of Miranda. As a threshold matter, we observe that the trial court's findings as to ‘‘ ‘the historical circumstances surrounding [a] defendant's interrogation [entails] questions of fact . . . .' '' State v. Pinder, 250 Conn. 385, 410, 736 A.2d 857 (1999). Accordingly, and in light of the constitutional implications of the issue and upon our scrupulous examination of the record, those findings will not be disturbed unless they are clearly erroneous. State v. Kendrick, supra, 314 Conn. 222-23. ‘‘The ultimate inquiry as to whether, in light of these factual circumstances, a reasonable person in the defendant's position would believe that he or she was in police custody of the degree associated with a formal arrest . . . calls for application of the controlling legal standard to the historical facts [and] . . . therefore, presents a . . . question of law . . . over which our review is de novo.'' (Internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Mangual, 311 Conn. 182, 197, 85 A.3d 627 (2014).

         ‘‘[P]olice officers are not required to administer Miranda warnings to everyone whom they question . . . rather, they must provide such warnings only to persons who are subject to custodial interrogation.'' (Citation omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) Id., 192. In the present case, it is undisputed that the police were interrogating the defendant. Accordingly, the only question is whether he was in custody. On that issue, the defendant bears the burden of proof. See State v. Pittman, 209 Conn. 596, 606, 553 A.2d 155 (1989) (defendant bears burden to prove custodial interrogation).

         ‘‘As used in . . . Miranda [and its progeny], custody is a term of art that specifies circumstances that are thought generally to present a serious danger of coercion. . . . In determining whether a person is in custody in this sense . . . the United States Supreme Court has adopted an objective, reasonable person test . . . the initial step [of which] is to ascertain whether, in light of the objective circumstances of the interrogation . . . a reasonable person [would] have felt [that] he or she was not at liberty to terminate the interrogation and [to] leave. . . . Determining whether an individual's freedom of movement [has been] curtailed, however, is simply the first step in the analysis, not the last. Not all restraints on freedom of movement amount to custody for purposes of Miranda. [Accordingly, the United States Supreme Court has] decline[d] to accord talismanic power to the freedom-of-movement inquiry . . . and [has] instead asked the additional question [of] whether the relevant environment presents the same inherently coercive pressures as the type of station house questioning at issue in Miranda. . . . Of course, the clearest example of custody for purposes of Miranda occurs when a suspect has been formally arrested. As Miranda makes clear, however, custodial interrogation includes questioning initiated by law enforcement officers after a suspect has been arrested or otherwise deprived of his freedom of action in any significant way. . . . Miranda v. Arizona, supra, 384 U.S. 444. Thus, not all restrictions on a suspect's freedom of action rise to the level of custody for Miranda purposes; in other words, the freedom-of-movement test identifies only a necessary and not a sufficient condition for Miranda custody. . . . Rather, the ultimate inquiry is whether a reasonable person in the defendant's position would believe that there was a restraint on [his] freedom of movement of the degree associated with a formal arrest. . . . Any lesser restriction on a person's freedom of action is not significant enough to implicate the core fifth amendment concerns that Miranda sought to address.

         ‘‘With respect to the issue of whether a person in the suspect's position reasonably would have believed that [he] was in police custody to the degree associated with a formal arrest, no definitive list of factors governs [that] determination, which must be based on the circumstances of each case . . . . Because, however, the [court in] Miranda . . . expressed concern with protecting defendants against interrogations that take place in a police-dominated atmosphere containing [inherent] pressures [that, by their very nature, tend] to undermine the individual's [ability to make a free and voluntary decision as to whether to speak or remain silent] . . . circumstances relating to those kinds of concerns are highly relevant on the custody issue. . . . In other words, in order to determine how a suspect [reasonably] would have gauge[d] his freedom of movement, courts must examine all of the circumstances surrounding the interrogation. . . . Although this court has not been called on to decide whether the totality of the circumstances surrounding the execution of a search warrant at a suspect's home rendered the atmosphere police-dominated for purposes of Miranda, the Appellate Court has addressed that issue . . . and we previously have considered whether a suspect was in custody when he invited the police into his home and willingly agreed to speak to them. . . . A review of these and related cases from this state, as well as federal and sister state cases involving the interrogation of a suspect during a police search of his residence, reveals the following nonexclusive list of factors to be considered in determining whether a suspect was in custody for purposes of Miranda: (1) the nature, extent and duration of the questioning; (2) whether the suspect was handcuffed or otherwise physically restrained; (3) whether officers explained that the suspect was free to leave or not under arrest; (4) who initiated the encounter; (5) the location of the interview; (6) the length of the detention; (7) the number of officers in the immediate vicinity of the questioning; (8) whether the officers were armed; (9) whether the officers displayed their weapons or used force of any other kind before or during questioning; and (10) the degree to which the suspect was isolated from friends, family and the public.'' (Citations omitted; emphasis omitted; footnotes omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Mangual, supra, 311 Conn. 193-97. Because the defendant in the present case is a juvenile, his age is a factor that courts must consider in determining whether he reasonably would have believed that he was in custody at the time of the interrogation. J. D. B. v. North Carolina, 564 U.S. 261, 264, 131 S.Ct. 2394, 180 L.Ed.2d 310 (2011).

         Our scrupulous review of the record leads us to agree with the Appellate Court that ‘‘no reasonable person in the defendant's position would have believed that he was ‘in custody' for purposes of Miranda.'' State v. Castillo, supra, 165 Conn.App. 716. As the Appellate Court observed, it is significant that ‘‘the defendant was not questioned at a police station or other unfamiliar and inherently coercive location, but in the relative comfort and familiarity of his own home, [6] with family present.'' (Footnote added.) Id., 716-17. Although the court correctly recognized that, under some circumstances, the mere fact that an interrogation takes place in a person's home will not prevent that interrogation from being custodial, it relied on our decision in Mangual for the proposition that ‘‘ ‘an encounter with police is generally less likely to be custodial when it occurs inasuspect's home.' ''Id., 717, quoting State v. Mangual, supra, 311 Conn. 206. The facts of the present case, however, are distinguishable from those presented in Mangual, in which we concluded that the defendant was in custody when police interrogated her in her home while executing a search warrant. See State v. Mangual, supra, 212. The Appellate Court explained that, in Mangual, ‘‘the totality of the circumstances surrounding the execution of the warrant by the police had transformed the defendant's home into the type of police dominated atmosphere that necessitated that the police advise the defendant of her Miranda rights prior to questioning her.'' State v. Castillo, supra, 717.

         We begin by observing that the trial court properly considered the defendant's age in determining whether, in light of the totality of the circumstances, the defendant was in custody during the interrogation. The court noted that, at the time of the interview, the defendant was sixteen years old, and also observed that it was due to his age that Fador did not want to interview the defendant in the absence of his parents. In fact, in the trial court, it was undisputed that the defendant was five weeks short of his seventeenth birthday at the time of the interrogation. Under the facts of the present case, we conclude that the trial court gave sufficient consideration and weight to the defendant's age. The United States Supreme Court has held that, although courts must consider a juvenile's age as one factor in the custody analysis, a child's age will not necessarily be ‘‘a determinative, or even a significant, factor in every case.'' J. D. B. v. North Carolina, supra, 564 U.S. 277.

         There is no question that the Appellate Court also considered the age of the defendant in assessing all of his claims, including the custody analysis. The first factual finding of the trial court that the Appellate Court noted as relevant to its review was: ‘‘On March 23, 2012, the defendant was a student at Torrington High School, and was less than one month from his seventeenth birthday.'' State v. Castillo, supra, 165 Conn.App. 706. The Appellate Court decision made multiple references to the defendant's age. For example, the court observed that, ‘‘[b]ecause of the defendant's age, Fador would not conduct an interview without a parent present.'' Id., 707-708. The court also noted that, ‘‘on May 10, 2012, the defendant was arrested pursuant to a juvenile arrest warrant . . . .'' Id., 710. The Appellate Court scrupulously examined the record and concluded that ‘‘no reasonable person in the defendant's position would have believed that he was ‘in custody' for purposes of Miranda.'' (Emphasis added.) Id., 716. The Appellate Court decision also referenced the defendant's age in its analysis of the voluntariness of his statements by noting that ‘‘[t]he defendant was nearly seventeen years old at the time he was questioned, and there was no indication that he was poorly educated or developmentally challenged.'' Id., 724. We conclude, therefore, that the Appellate Court complied with the holding of J. D. B. that courts must consider a juvenile's age as one factor in the custody analysis, and that it is proper in that analysis to consider whether a juvenile is close to the age of majority.[7] See J. D. B. v. North Carolina, supra, 564 U.S. 277.

         The Appellate Court aptly summarized the circumstances that we considered compelling in our custody analysis in Mangual. ‘‘First, the police had initiated the contact, and were not invited into the apartment by the defendant, but ‘entered under the authority of a search warrant, an inherently coercive and intimidating police action.' '' Id. We also note that, in Mangual, the police encounter was ‘‘wholly unexpected'' by the defendant. State v. Mangual, supra, 311 Conn. 199. The Appellate Court additionally observed that, in Mangual, this court ‘‘considered the action particularly intimidating given that seven armed officers in tactical vests participated in the execution of the warrant. . . . Second, the officers brandished their weapons when they announced themselves and entered the small, four room apartment, actions that the court deemed an occupant reasonably could have associated with the police effecting an arrest. . . . The court found significant that the officers prohibited the defendant from leaving or otherwise moving about the apartment. In such circumstances, it was reasonable for the defendant to perceive such an imposing display of authority as a clear indication that the police intended to assume and maintain full control over her and her daughters. . . . The court considered the relatively large number of officers, many, if not all of whom were present in the living room when the defendant was questioned, to be a third factor supporting a finding of custody, citing several federal Circuit Courts of Appeals for the proposition that the presence of a large number of visibly armed law enforcement officers goes a long way [toward] making the suspect's home a police-dominated atmosphere. . . . Fourth, the police exercised complete control over the defendant and her surroundings before, during and after her questioning. . . . As soon as the officers entered the apartment, they ordered the defendant to go to the living room, where she was confined to the couch and placed under guard. The court noted that [t]his exercise of total control over the defendant stands in stark contrast to the far more relaxed environment that is a hallmark of interrogations in a suspect's home that have been found to be noncustodial. . . . Finally, the court indicated that the police never explained to the defendant the nature, purpose, or likely duration of her detention.'' (Citations omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Castillo, supra, 165 Conn.App. 717-18.

         We agree with the Appellate Court that the circumstances of the present case stand in stark contrast to those presented in Mangual. The encounter, which lasted a total of forty-five minutes, did not have the hallmarks of coercion that we relied on in Mangual. Unlike the defendant in Mangual, whose encounter with the police in her home was ‘‘wholly unexpected''; State v. Mangual, supra, 311 Conn. 199; the defendant in the present case had been alerted in advance that the police would be coming to the home to question him. That is, on April 10, 2012, Fador informed the defendant that he would be returning to the home to question him about this incident, when his mother was present.

         As the Appellate Court further explained, ‘‘[a]lthough the police initiated contact with the defendant and his family, the police did not enter the house on their own authority, such as pursuant to a search warrant, but were invitedinby Monegro.[8] The police informed Monegro of the purpose for their visit before she allowed them to enter.[9] There were only three officers present, one of whom was acting as a translator.[10] The detectives wore plain clothes, not tactical gear. Although the defendant was asked to come into the living room to speak with the police, he was never threatened with arrest or searched, he was never handcuffed, and the police took no other action, either verbal or physical, to intimidate the defendant or to restrict his movement or to confine him to that particular room. The detectives and Rios each carried sidearms, but they were never brandished at any point, nor did any of the officers threaten the use of force on the defendant or his family. Both Fador and Rios informed Monegro that she could end the interview at any time, and the defendant was told more than once that his presence was voluntary, and that he was free to leave and did not have to answer their questions. He was told this orally before any questions were ever asked, and the same instructions were provided to him in writing as part of the waiver form, which he signed prior to giving his oral statement and written confession. Such instructions were not provided to the defendant in Mangual. [State v. Mangual, supra, 311 Conn. 204-205]; see State v. Edwards, 299 Conn. 419, 437, 11 A.3d 116 (2011) . . . (‘a fact finder reasonably might find that a reasonable person would feel free to leave when that person was told repeatedly that he could do so' . . .). There is no evidence in the record that the defendant was overly nervous or intimidated during the encounter.'' (Footnotes added.) State v. Castillo, supra, 165 Conn.App. 719.

         We also note our agreement with the Appellate Court that, ‘‘[i]n terms of whether a reasonable person would feel that his freedom of movement was restrained to the degree associated with a formal arrest and, therefore, that he was ‘in custody,' the circumstances surrounding the defendant's interview in the present case appear no more coercive or intimidating an atmosphere than was present in other cases in which our Supreme Court determined that a suspect questioned in a residence prior to an arrest was not ‘in custody' and, thus, not entitled to Miranda [warnings]. See, e.g., State v. Kirby, 280 Conn. 361, 369-70, 392-94, 396, 908 A.2d 506 (2006) (defendant [was] not ‘in custody' for Miranda purposes although five police officers arrived at his home at 4:30 a.m. to question him about kidnapping and assault because defendant invited officers into home, defendant knew why police were there, encounter lasted less than fifteen minutes, officers' guns stayed holstered, and defendant [was] not handcuffed until after he admitted to kidnapping); State v. Johnson, 241 Conn. 702, 714-21, 699 A.2d 57 (1997) (defendant [was] not ‘in custody' although confronted by two detectives and uniformed police officer in driveway of father's house prior to consenting to be questioned in kitchen).'' State v. Castillo, supra, 165 Conn.App. 720. In summary, the Appellate Court properly concluded that ‘‘the defendant was not ‘in custody' at the time he provided his statements to the police and, therefore, was not entitled to Miranda warnings.'' Id., 722.

         We are not persuaded by the defendant's arguments that two factors that this court typically has relied on to conclude that a suspect was not in custody support the opposite inference in the present case. First, the defendant suggests that the particular circumstances of the interview transformed his home into a coercive atmosphere. Second, he contends that the presence of his mother during the interview made him feel less free to leave. The defendant therefore contends that both of these factors support the conclusion that he was in custody. We address each of these arguments in turn.

         First, the defendant contends that, under the circumstances of the present case, the fact that the questioning took place in his home supports the conclusion that he was in custody. The defendant suggests that the officers should have given him the option of being questioned at the police station if he had preferred. He does not argue that an interview at the station would have been less coercive. Without providing any authority for the proposition, he appears to suggest that, if the police had offered him the choice of a more coercive atmosphere, that may have rendered the interview in the present case less coercive. We reject the defendant's suggestion.

         The defendant claims that the particular circumstances of the encounter transformed the living room into a ‘‘ ‘police-dominated atmosphere.' '' He places great emphasis on the presence of three officers in the room. We first observe, however, the stark contrast between the number of police officers in the present case as compared to Mangual, in which there were seven officers, some of whom wore tactical gear, and some of whom entered the room brandishing weapons. State v. Mangual, supra, 311 Conn. 186, 199-200. In the present case, there were fewer than one half of the officers who were involved in Mangual, and none of them wore tactical gear or brandished weapons. It is also significant that the third officer, Rios, was present specifically for the purpose of translating for Monegro. Another fact that the defendant relies on is that the officers were ‘‘within ‘arm's length' '' of him during the questioning. Aswe have observed, however, the officers did not in any way restrict the movement of the defendant or others in the apartment. These circumstances differ sharply from those presented in Mangual, in which the officers ‘‘exercised complete control over the defendant and her surroundings . . . .'' State v. Mangual, supra, 201. Also, as we already have observed, the defendant repeatedly was told that he was free to ask the officers to leave and was free to end the questioning at any time.

         Second, the defendant argues that the presence of his mother made the atmosphere more coercive and, therefore, weighs in favor of concluding that he was in custody. He relies on testimony at the suppression hearing that Monegro appeared ‘‘angry, '' ‘‘worried, '' ‘‘nervous, '' and ‘‘upset'' over the course of the interview and testimony at trial that, at one point during the interview, she ‘‘yelled'' at the defendant in Spanish. Although we can envision facts under which the presence of a parent would render a police encounter more coercive; see generally H. Farber, ‘‘The Role of the Parent/Guardian in Juvenile Custodial Interrogations: Friend or Foe?, '' 41 Am. Crim. L. Rev. 1277 (2004); the presence of a parent is generally considered to provide greater protection to a juvenile. See, e.g., General Statutes § 46b-137 (c) (conditioning admissibility, in delinquency proceeding, of ...


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