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Involuntary Confession Reverses Murder Conviction

California v. Jimenez Docket: E074849 (Fourth Appellate District), Opinion Date: December 14, 2021. A police officer spotted defendant Enrique Jimenez and his two teenaged sons by some trash cans in a field. They jumped into an SUV and drove away. The officer, believing they had committed illegal dumping, tried to pull them over. Instead, defendant dropped off his sons near his house, then led the police in a pursuit. When the police took a closer look at the trash cans, they found that one contained a dead body. Defendant confessed that he had intentionally stabbed the victim to death. Defendant was convicted by jury of first degree murder with an enhancement for personal use of a deadly weapon; recklessly evading an officer; and two counts of aggravated assault on a peace officer. He was sentenced to a total of 29 years to life, plus fines, fees, and ancillary orders. On appeal, defendant contended, among other things, that his confession was involuntary because the police induced it by threatening to charge his sons with the murder. After review of the trial court record, the Court of Appeal agreed: the interrogating officer told defendant that he knew defendant’s sons were innocent of murder, but he intended to charge them anyway — unless defendant confessed. "We cannot say, beyond a reasonable doubt, that if defendant’s confession had been excluded, he would still have been convicted of first degree murder. Indeed, it is reasonably probable that the jury would have found him guilty of a lesser offense, such as second degree murder or involuntary manslaughter, or acquitted him on this count." The judgment was reversed solely with respect to the conviction on count 1 (murder) and with respect to the sentence; in all other respects, it was affirmed. On remand, if the State did not bring defendant to a new trial on count 1 in a timely manner, then the Court's remittitur would be deemed to modify the verdict by striking the conviction on count 1 and the trial court would have to promptly resentence defendant. #murderconfession #involuntaryconfession #murderconvictionreversed

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