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Rios v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, Fifth District

August 9, 2019

VICTORIA ELIZABETH RIOS, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF FLORIDA, Appellee.

         NOT FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE MOTION FOR REHEARING AND DISPOSITION THEREOF IF FILED

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Osceola County, Jon B. Morgan, Judge.

          James S. Purdy, Public Defender, and Edward J. Weiss, Assistant Public Defender, Daytona Beach, for Appellant.

          Ashley Moody, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Pamela J. Koller, Assistant Attorney General, Daytona Beach, for Appellee.

          WALLIS, J.

         Appellant, Victoria Elizabeth Rios, appeals her convictions for first-degree murder and armed burglary of a dwelling. Appellant asserts that law enforcement's delayed administration of the warnings required by Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), rendered her subsequent waiver and incriminating statements made to law enforcement involuntary. We agree, reverse Appellant's convictions, and remand for a new trial.

         FACTS

         Appellant, David Damus, Konrad Schafer, and Juan Muriel were charged with the murder of Eric Roopnarine (the victim) and armed burglary with a firearm of the victim's home. Appellant, a seventeen-year-old runaway, was living with Damus and Muriel after she left her father's home. In need of rent money, Appellant approached the victim through a cellphone messaging application and offered sex for money. Appellant, Damus, Schafer, and Muriel drove to the victim's home. After the victim let Appellant into his home, she opened the door for Damus and Schafer. Damus shot the victim, Schafer stabbed him, and the trio searched the victim's home for anything of value while Muriel waited in the vehicle. They stole, among other things, a television, a PlayStation3, and an Xbox.

         While investigating another homicide, law enforcement found Appellant hiding in a closet at Schafer's home. Following the search of Schafer's home, law enforcement asked the occupants of the home, including Damus, Muriel, and Appellant, to come to the police station in Kissimmee for questioning. Appellant was transported without handcuffs in an unmarked police car. At the station, law enforcement isolated Appellant in an interview room on the secured second floor. Appellant remained in that location for over eleven hours, during which time law enforcement officers interviewed her intermittently three times.

         First Interview

         The first interview began around 3:00 p.m. and lasted approximately twenty minutes. During that time, Detective Georgie Torres questioned Appellant about a weapon that law enforcement recovered at the Schafer residence. Afterward Detective Torres left Appellant confined and isolated in the room for approximately two hours. During the wait, Appellant expressed her desire to leave. In response, an officer told her to relax and that she could not always get what she wanted.

         Mr. Rios, Appellant's father, arrived at the station at 5:00 p.m. Law enforcement instructed him that his wait "was going to be a while," that he should leave the station and get something to eat, and that they would contact him again when they finished questioning Appellant. Believing that law enforcement would not allow him to see his daughter, Mr. Rios left the police station.

         Second Interview

         The second interview began at 5:23 p.m. with Detectives Kristi McElroy and Alex Bejerano. During the first forty minutes of this interview, Detective McElroy developed a rapport with Appellant by delving into her status as a runaway and asking her whether she was a victim of human trafficking. The focus subsequently turned to Appellant's relationship ...


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