United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
D. WHITTEMORE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Omar Maldonado, a Florida inmate, filed a pro se
petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. §
2254 challenging his Hillsborough County convictions. (Dkt.
1). Respondent opposes the petition. (Dkt. 13). Petitioner
filed a reply. (Dkt. 24). Upon consideration, the petition is
was convicted after a jury trial of first degree felony
murder with a firearm; three counts of robbery with a
firearm; and two counts of kidnapping with a firearm. (Dkt.
15, Ex. 2, Vol. IV, pp. 657-58). He was sentenced him to life
in prison. (Dkt. 15, Ex. 3). The state appellate court
affirmed, per curiam. (Dkt. 15, Ex. 6).
Petitioner's motions for postconviction relief under
Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.850 were denied. (Dkt.
15, Exs. 8-11; Dkt. 31, Ex. 20). The state appellate court
affirmed, per curiam. (Dkt. 15, Ex. 15).
the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996
("AEDP A"), habeas relief can only be granted if a
petitioner is in custody "in violation of the
Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States."
28 U.S.C § 2254(a). A petitioner must demonstrate that
the state court's adjudication of his federal claim
resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an
unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law,
or resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable
determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented
in the state court proceeding. 28 U.S.C. §
One: "Trial Court Reversibly Erred in Denying
Petitioner's Motion To Suppress Regarding Statements He
Made To Law Enforcement."
asked to speak to Detective Morgan after his arrest and gave
a recorded interview on April 4, 2006. Detective Sepulveda
translated, since Petitioner spoke Spanish. Petitioner was
detained at a county jail, and complained to the detectives
about the conditions of his confinement. He argues that his
statements were involuntary because they were induced by the
detectives' promises to secure better conditions for him.
He alleges that the state court erred in denying his motion
to suppress, and his claim is liberally construed as raising
a federal due process violation.
an evidentiary hearing, the state court found:
The testimony at the suppression hearing reflected Defendant
Maldonado was interviewed on March 30, 2006 with an
interpreter present and on April , 2006 when the
Defendant's sister informed Detective Morgan that the
Defendant wanted to speak to him. Detective Sepulveda, a
Spanish speaking officer conducted this interview which was
recorded. The detective admits the Defendant complained about
the conditions in the jail specifically that he couldn't
bathe and the jail personnel having [sic] difficulty
The transcript reflects the Defendant asking Detective
Sepulveda if he can be moved to another cell. The detective
responds they can check into that but that is something the
jail controls. The defendant also complains jail staff
doesn't understand him and the detective respond [sic]
they will talk to the jail supervisor.
The incident occurred on March [1)8, 2006. The Defendant
tells the detective in his taped interview he was high on
cocaine and marijuana when the incident occurred. The
interview took place on April 4, 2006.
There is no evidence to suggest the detective made any
promise to the Defendant. The Defendant complained about his
jail conditions and the detective replied he would check with
a jail supervisor. No promises were made to induce the
Defendant's statements. The fact that the Defendant
stated he was high on drugs when the incident occurred on
March 18, 2006 has no bearing on the voluntariness of his
confession April 4, 2006 [sic]. The Defendant's Motion
alleging his confession was not voluntary is denied.
(Dkt.30, Ex. 17, pp. 104-05).
defendant in a criminal case is deprived of due process of
law if his conviction is founded, in whole or in part, upon
an involuntary confession." Jackson v. Denno,
378 U.S. 368, 376 (1964). In determining the admissibility of
a confession, a court considers whether police complied with
Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), and whether
the confession was voluntary. United States v.
Jones, 32 F.3d 1512, 1516 (11th Cir. 1994).
does not challenge the detectives' compliance with
Miranda, but contends that his confession was
involuntary because it was induced by the detectives'
promises. Voluntariness "must be examined in light of
the totality of the circumstances." Hubbard v.
Haley, 317 F.3d 1245, 1252 (11th Cir. 2003) (citing
Schneckloth v. Bustamonte, 412 U.S. 218, 226
(1973)). In assessing the totality of the circumstances, it
must be determined whether the statement "was the
product of 'an essentially free and unconstrained
choice.'" Id. (quoting United States v.
Garcia, 890 F.2d 355, 360 (11th Cir. 1989).
"[P]romises or inducements by police" are one
factor to be considered. Id. Further,
"[g]overnment coercion is a necessary predicate to a
finding of involuntariness under the Fifth Amendment."
United States v. Thompson, 422 F.3d 1285, 1296 (11th
relies on two portions of the interview in support of his
claim. The first states:
SEPULVEDA: Go ahead and fill in the time, it's 0935.
Okay, let the record reflect that Mr. Maldonado has signed
his uh, Consent to be Interviewed for[m] in Spanish. He
indicated to me in Spanish that he understood all the points
of his uh, Miranda warning.
MORGAN: Alright, I got...
MALDONADO: Ask him if [he] can remove me from the cell,
SEPULVEDA: If you can take off what?
MALDONADO: He can't take me out of the cell and put me
SEPULVEDA: He's asking if you could take him out of the
cell that he's in and put him in another cell.
MALDONADO: (INAUDIBLE). ..
MORGAN: I, I, yeah, explain to him that right now, based on
what I know, it's because, he's in there because of
his charges ...
SEPULVEDA: Okay . ..
MORGAN: . . . because of the severity of his charges to avoid
anyone from hurting him.
SEPULVEDA: Okay, the reason that you[']r[e] in the cell
that you are now is because of the charges that you have, to
protect you. You understand, that is the reason that you are
MALDONADO: To protect me ...
SEPULVEDA: To protect you and because the charges you have
are very serious. Okay, you understand that, that's the
reason that you are in that particular cell.
MALDONADO: For how long?
SEPULVEDA: How much longer?
MORGAN: I can, well, I can check on it, but that's
something that has to be...
SEPULVEDA: He can check with the superiors who work here,
okay, but for now, that is where you are going to live in
that cell. You understand?
MALDONADO: For a long time?
SEPULVEDA: No, I don't know. He doesn't know.
MORGAN: That's something the jail controls ...
SEPULVEDA: We don't have any control over . ..
MALDONADO: I see .. .
SEPULVEDA: .. . of that, is the supervisors that work here in
this place, in this jail...
MALDONADO: ... I'm going crazy ...
MALDONADO: I'm going crazy in there, they don't
understand me ...
SEPULVEDA: No, okay . . . he's saying that he's going
crazy in there because nobody understands him ...
MORGAN: Oh, I see ...
MALDONADO: They don't... they don't, I don't know
how to explain... if I tell them I want water, there's
the water that (INAUDIBLE)
SEPULVEDA: Mmhmm ...
MALDONADO: The food ...
SEPULVEDA: He's complaining that, you know, when he's
MALDONADO: They won't let me take a bath ...
SEPULVEDA: .. .you know, food, he hasn't, he hasn't
had a chance to take a bath and nobody seems to understand
that he's trying to ask for them. We are going to take
[sic] with the supervisors of this jail when we finish,
MORGAN: That, that portion of that I can address .. .
SEPULVEDA: Okay ...
MORGAN: ... and I can talk to them in lockdown . ..
SEPULVEDA: But that's what I just told him ...
MORGAN: ... and explain to them .. .
SEPULVEDA: Okay, we're going to talk with the supervisors
to help you with that.
MORGAN: Yeah, I mean he has the right to take a shower and
get a drink or anything like that. ..
SEPULVEDA: Now the reason that we're here, okay, in this
office is because your sister talked with us and that you
wanted to tell us, or to him, the both of us, what happened
... this is what we want to talk about...
MALDONADO: Yeah . ..
SEPULVEDA: . . . okay and if you have something to say to us
about that case, we are here to listen to what you have to