Meth defendant asks court to suppress evidence, statements he made

CITING a violation of his Miranda rights, a man charged with drug crimes has asked the federal court to suppress evidence and the statements he made during his arrest.

David Muna Sablan, 39, was indicted for conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, conspiracy to possess chemicals, products and equipment to manufacture methamphetamine.

Sablan likewise created a substantial risk of harm to human life while illegally attempting to manufacture ice, the indictment stated.

Through his court-appointed counsel Janet King, Muna is now asking the District Court of the NMI to exclude all statements he made after he was arrested, and the statements he made after he was read his Miranda rights at the Drug Enforcement Agency office on March 15, 2018.

King said law enforcement officers failed to warn or deliberately elicited an unwarned, inadmissible confession from her client. She said they “Mirandized” the defendant, and then continued the interrogation in order to have Sablan repeat his confession.

She said his “statement must be excluded as [a] violation of Miranda [rights].”

King invoked the Fifth Amendment, which guarantees that no person “shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.”

In order to protect this constitutional guarantee, she said the U.S. Supreme Court established “concrete constitutional guidelines” called Miranda warnings in which the suspect has a right to remain silent; that anything he says can be used against him in a court of law; that he has the right to the presence of an attorney; and that if he cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed for him prior to any questioning if he so desires.

King said the U.S. government bears the burden of demonstrating that the law enforcement officers who questioned Sablan gave Miranda warnings to him prior to a custodial interrogation, and that his statements were voluntary.

She said the arresting Department of Public Safety officers subjected Sablan to custodial interrogation without Miranda warnings and that therefore, his statements on March 15, 2018 must be excluded as evidence.

After Sablan was arrested, King said he was not advised at all of his Miranda rights prior to being subjected to custodial interrogation by law enforcement officers at  American Memorial Park, in a police vehicle and later at the JJ Building.

King said hours after Sablan was arrested at the park and interrogated at the JJ Building, he was taken to the DEA office and was “read” his Miranda rights.

She said the U.S Supreme Court has made clear that where law enforcement officers deliberately withhold Miranda warnings before eliciting a confession from a suspect in custody, and then obtain a substantially similar confession after providing Miranda warnings, the post-Miranda statement must be excluded unless curative measures were provided before the second statement.

King requested the court to conduct an evidentiary hearing to determine, outside the presence of the jury, whether any statements made by Sablan were voluntary.

She also asked the court to compel the arresting law enforcement officers to disclose the “rough notes” on interrogations of Sablan.

In a declaration submitted to the court, Sablan stated that on March 15, 2018 a little after 4 a.m., he was arrested at American Memorial Park by DPS Officer John Hofschneider who put him in a police vehicle.

“At that time, he began to question me and I answered his questions,” Sablan said. “Officer Hofschneider did not tell me I had the right to remain silent. He did not tell me that anything I said could be used against me, and that I had a right to a lawyer.”

Sablan said a short time after he made his statements to Officer Hofscheider, DEA special agent Kirk Johns and another officer asked him questions which he answered.

After several hours he said,  at around 10 a.m. at the DEA office, “Johns and another officer gave me Miranda warnings,” Sablan said, adding that he also signed a form.

“I had already answered their questions earlier so I signed the form. Johns questioned me again, and I made statements,” Sablan said.

He said the questions were about the same things that Officer Hofschneider asked him.

“At the DEA office, Johns asked me about pharmacy logs with my name on them, and I made statements in answer to those questions,” Sablan added.

His declaration was attached to his  lawyer’s motion to suppress and motion to compel discovery that was submitted to the federal court on Wednesday.

Source: Marianas Variety :

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