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Commonwealth v. Quinones

Appeals Court of Massachusetts, Essex

April 10, 2019

COMMONWEALTH
v.
ELIEZER QUINONES.

         Heard: November 14, 2018.

         Complaint received and sworn to in the Essex County Division of the Juvenile Court Department on July 22, 2015.

         Indictments found and returned in the Superior Court Department on August 31, 2015. A pretrial motion to suppress evidence was heard by Garrett J. McManus, J.

          The cases were tried before Michael F. Edgerton, J.

          Andrew S. Crouch for the defendant. Catherine P. Sullivan, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth.

          Present: Wolohojian, Hanlon, & Ditkoff, JJ.

          DITKOFF, J.

         The defendant, Eliezer Quinones, appeals from Juvenile Court adjudications as a youthful offender on charges of armed assault with the intent to murder, G. L. c. 265, § 18 (b), and assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon, G. L. c. 265, § 15A (b). We conclude that, for Miranda purposes, a juvenile's age must be considered in determining whether the juvenile was subjected to the functional equivalent of police questioning. Concluding that the police officer's advice to the defendant would not be perceived as interrogation by a reasonable juvenile of the defendant's age in the same circumstances, we determine that the judge properly denied a portion of the defendant's motion to suppress. Further concluding that there was sufficient evidence to find that the defendant was the shooter and that he had the requisite intent to murder, we affirm the adjudications.

         1. Background. On the evening of July 21, 2015, the victim was shot in the leg while walking down the driveway of his friend's house in Lynn. He did not see the shooter. A witness from the neighborhood, who watched the scene unfold from the porch of his home, "[s]aw a kid ride up on a bike, drop the bike and pull a gun out." The individual disappeared behind a building, and the witness heard gunshots. The witness was unable to see the individual's face, but he described him as average build, shirtless, and riding a small, green bicycle.

         Surveillance video footage (video) from a nearby convenience store revealed an individual whom the jury could have identified as the defendant riding his bicycle past the convenience store. That individual, wearing a black shirt, gray shorts, white socks, and black shoes, rode out of the video frame. Less than two minutes later, an individual wearing the same shoes, socks, and shorts emerged biking in the opposite direction. He appeared to have a black shirt tied around his head, covering his face. He rode his bicycle across the street, in the direction of the driveway where the victim was shot. At the base of the driveway, the individual dropped his bicycle on the ground and briefly disappeared out of the video frame. Seconds later, the individual reappeared and ran away, but returned again to retrieve the bicycle.

         After promptly arriving at the scene of the shooting, several police officers began searching the surrounding area. On Chase Street, the officers found the defendant, who was sixteen years old at the time, and another male inside a vehicle with the rear window "fogged up." The defendant was lying down "in the backseat of the car, kind of crunched down." He was wearing gray shorts underneath blue jeans, a black shirt, and black shoes. A bicycle was on the ground near the vehicle.

         The officers asked the defendant and the other male what they were doing and where the owner of the vehicle was, and they stated that they knew the owner but that he was not there. After an officer confirmed with the owner of the vehicle that the defendant and the other male were not authorized to be in it, police arrested both of them and brought them to the Lynn police station for booking. The defendant was neither questioned further nor read his Miranda rights.

         After spending over one hour at the police station in booking, the defendant was transported to an alternative lockup in Lowell. Before leaving the station, the defendant asked the transporting officer why he was being locked up. The officer answered and gave the defendant advice about "the negative things that the streets bring to people." The officer advised the defendant to "clean up his act," as otherwise "he's going to wind up in serious trouble." The defendant said "something in the lines of people are going to feel sorry when he comes out, relating t[hat] he had been proving himself." The officer then advised the defendant "to just get out completely. There's nothing positive about the life path that he had chosen." The officer did not ask the defendant what he meant by his statements.

         The motion judge granted the portion of the defendant's motion to suppress related to his statements made at the vehicle prior to his arrest, but the judge denied so much of the motion as sought to suppress the statements the defendant made during transport to Lowell. Although the Commonwealth conceded that the defendant was in custody at the time of the transport, the motion judge found that the ...


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