Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Monday, November 24, 2020


Page 1


Court of Appeal:

Inmate Serving LWOP Sentence Entitled to One Additional Day of Custody Credit


By a MetNews Staff Writer


Div. Three of the Fourth District Court of Appeal held yesterday that a prisoner is entitled to 822 days of custody credits rather than 821 days—an adjustment not apt to be of benefit to the man, a first-degree murderer who was sentenced to life imprisonment without possibility of parole, with a concurrent sentence of 25 years to life based on a firearm enhancement.

Finding that there had been a miscalculation by Orange Superior Court Judge Patrick Donahue, Justice David A. Thompson wrote:

“[D]efendant correctly points out the trial court erred by awarding him only 821 days of custody credits at sentencing. Defendant was arrested on March 1, 2017, and was sentenced on May 31, 2019….In contrast to the usual rules for computing time, the day of arrest is day 1, not day 0. Defendant was in actual custody for 822 days, and is entitled to one additional day of credits. We may modify a judgment to correct custody credits, and we do so here.”

Other contentions by the defendant, Alfredo Quiroz-Muniz, were rejected, in an opinion that was not certified for publication.

Miranda Violation

Among the contentions was that Quiroz-Muniz, after the Miranda warning had been rendered by police, unambiguously invoked his right to remain silent, yet questioning impermissibly continued, and that Donahue erred in admitting the statements he made into evidence were at trial. Thompson wrote:

“[D]efendant responded to the investigator’s question whether ‘you’ll talk to me?’ with ‘I will—I really got nothing to say about yesterday or anything” (Italics added.) On appeal, defendant myopically focuses on the italicized portion of the sentence, but ignores ‘I will,’ and insists this is an unambiguous invocation of his right to remain silent. Not so.”

The jurist continued:

“[F]ollowing his advisement, defendant proceeded to engage in a conversation with the investigator, asking questions about whether he needed to expressly say he waived his rights, whether he could wait and listen to the questions first, and what would happen if he said he did not want to talk. There was no indication defendant wanted to remain silent.”

Body Language

Thompson went on to say:

“Defendant argues that his ‘body language,’ as shown in the videotape of the interview, further intensifie[s]’ his allegedly unequivocal refusal to talk. We are unsure whether appellate counsel is trying to testify as an expert on the semiotics of body language, but body language in almost any situation is at best equivocal, and in the context of a police interrogation of a hard-core gang member, probably even more so. In any event, even as a court reviewing de novo, we are no more qualified to assess and conclusively determine in the first instance the meaning of a person’s body language during an interrogation than any other laypersons, and we decline to do so here. This is especially true when as here the issue was never considered below and has been found forfeited.”

The case is People v. Quiroz-Muniz, G058063.


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