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State v. Delatorre-Vargas

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 03-07-2012
Case #: A141725
Sercombe, P.J. for the Court; Rosenblum, S.J.; Brewer, C.J.; and Armstrong, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/sites/Publications/A141725.pdf

Criminal Procedure: The identifications were obtained using suggestive procedures and the State failed to demonstrate that the identifications were independently reliable. The errors in admitting the identification evidence were not harmless.

Defendant appeals his jury conviction for multiple crimes including robbery. Two men robbed a pharmacy. An employee stated one of the suspects had an unusually high-pitched voice and he was given one voice recording to listen to, that of the Defendant, and affirmatively identified Defendant. Another witness was shown a photo line-up of four Caucasian males and one Hispanic male (Defendant). The witness picked Defendant’s photo. The trial court denied Defendant’s motion to suppress, finding that these identifications were not the result of suggestive police techniques. Defendant appealed claiming the identifications were a result of suggestive procedures. Under State v. Classen, pretrial identifications must be reliable in order to be admissible. Classen requires that challenged identification evidence pass a two-step inquiry: 1) a determination of whether the identification process was suggestive or a departure from normal procedures; if yes; 2) the state must show the identification has an independent source and is reliable. The Court of Appeals held the voice identification and the photo line-up were improperly suggestive and the state did not show the identification was reliable. Reversed and remanded.