A man’s statements to Guam Police Department officers will be excluded from trial after a judge found the prosecution couldn’t sufficiently prove the man knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily waived his Miranda rights.
Sinamper Sukion, 27, was charged with first- and second-degree criminal sexual conduct. He was arrested Feb. 9 and charged Feb. 10.
More:Judge grants curfew for ex-UFC fighter accused of sexual assault
More:Man arrested in Tamuning death case
In May, Sukion’s attorney, William Brennan, asked the court to exclude statements Sukion said and wrote to police when Sukion was interrogated.
The defense stated Sukion didn’t voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently waive his Miranda rights. At a hearing on the issue, the defense called Sukion’s nephew, who said Sukion speaks Chuukese because Sukion doesn’t know English that well. The nephew also said Sukion didn’t finish high school and, to his knowledge, Sukion has never been arrested, according to court documents.
Defense: Sukion wasn’t given Miranda rights in his native language
According to the defense, Sukion wasn’t apprised of his rights in his native language of Chuukese and Sukion doesn’t speak or understand English. The defense also asserted nothing in evidence showed Sukion understood his rights beyond a nod of his head, the interviewing officer was unsure of Sukion’s comprehension, there wasn’t a translator and Sukion didn’t have any other experience with the criminal justice system.
A police officer testified he and another officer found Sukion at his home in February. The officer testified he never personally spoke to Sukion directly.
He didn’t observe the other officer ask if Sukion needed an interpreter at any point when Sukion and the other officer were within earshot, the court’s decision stated. It was the other officer who escorted Sukion to the police car and drove him to Hagåtña for an interview.
The officer said he wasn’t there when Sukion was interviewed so he didn’t observe any police officer administer Miranda rights to Sukion and he didn’t see Sukion acknowledge or sign a waiver of his Miranda rights.
The other officer wasn’t called as a witness.
“Although testimony or evidence as to what occurred after (Sukion) left his residence with (the officer) would have been relevant information for the court to consider in making this finding, none of this information was provided to the court by either party,” stated Judge Dana Gutierrez.
Sukion’s former employer testified that Sukion’s wife would often accompany him to work to speak for him in English. The employer also said he gives his workers instructions in English and sometimes uses a Micronesian foreman to give more complicated instructions to the laborers in Chuukese, the court’s decision stated.
According to the prosecution, Sukion did waive his Miranda rights and Sukion understands some English.
The judge stated “a minimal understanding of a language does not automatically mean that a defendant understands his Miranda rights advised in that language and can knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily waive those rights.”
Gutierrez stated the prosecution didn’t provide any evidence or testimony from anyone who actually spoke to Sukion or who observed Sukion from the time he left his house through the time which he allegedly made incriminating statements.
“The people have not met their burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that (Sukion) knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily waived his Miranda rights,” Gutierrez stated. “Accordingly, the court finds the suppression of (Sukion’s) statements is warranted.”