State v. Downing

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 01-27-2016
  • Case #: A151627
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Sercombe, P.J. For the Court; Hadlock, C.J.; Tookey, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Before questioning a suspect, police must give Miranda warnings if that person is in either “full custody or in circumstances that create a setting which judges would and officers should recognize to be compelling. A person has acted with extreme indifference to the value of human life when they act in “a state of mind where an individual cares little about the risk of death of a human being.” If a proper foundation is laid for it, the results of an evidence-gathering technique that is a part of the 12-step DRE protocol is independently admissible.

Defendant appealed a judgment of conviction for first-degree manslaughter, second-degree assault, driving under the influence, and recklessly endangering another person. To prove the manslaughter and assault charges, the state was required to demonstrate that defendant acted with an “extreme indifference to the value of human life.” On appeal, Defendant argued that the state failed to offer sufficient evidence, and that the trial court gave a misleading instruction about what constituted extreme indifference. Defendant also asserted an error on a failure to suppress certain incriminating statements. Finally, Defendant contends that the trial court improperly allowed the state’s expert witnesses to testify about portions of an incomplete drug recognition expert (DRE) protocol. In regards to Defendant's error for attempt to suppress certain statements made, the Court was unpersuaded finding that Defendant was not restrained, and therefore there was no unlawful questioning. Further, the Court found that the trial court did not error in denying Defendant motion for judgment of acquittal, because a rational juror could conclude the same, given the evidence presented. However, the Court found that the jury instructions explaining what constitutes "extreme indifference to the value of human life" had misstated the law, and therefore constituted reversible error. Finally, the Court found that the partial DRE was admissible. Convictions on Counts 1, 2, and 3 reversed and remanded; remanded for resentencing; otherwise affirmed.

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