Arizona Defendant Appeals Rape Conviction on Grounds that Confession was Involuntary

Recently, an Arizona court of appeals had to decide whether to grant a defendant’s request to overturn his convictions and sentences for sexual assault, kidnapping, and sexual abuse. Originally, the defendant was charged after he dragged a coworker to a warehouse and raped her; his case went to trial, and he was found guilty. On appeal, the defendant argued that the jury should not have been privy to the confession he made to an investigator since the confession was made involuntarily. The higher court considered this argument but eventually rejected it, denying the defendant’s appeal.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant and the victim in this case worked together, and the defendant had repeatedly asked the victim to go on a date with him. The victim denied the defendant’s advances, and the defendant retaliated because of the rejection. On one morning, when the two individuals were working together, the defendant dragged the woman into a warehouse and slammed her into the wall, then raped her.

A motorcyclist driving by saw the defendant dragging the woman on the ground, and he called 911. Soon after, several police officers arrived at the scene, found the woman unconscious, and arrested the defendant.

The victim sustained multiple injuries, including a concussion and injuries consistent with strangulation. The defendant was taken to the police station. An officer read him his Miranda rights, and he immediately confessed to injuring and raping the woman.

The Decision

The State charged the defendant with sexual assault, kidnapping, and sexual abuse. His case went to trial, and a jury found him guilty as charged. On appeal, however, the defendant argued that his confession to the investigator was involuntary. Because it was not a voluntary confession, the jury should not have been privy to the confession when considering the evidence of the case.

Looking at the confession, the higher court ultimately disagreed with the defendant. The defendant and the investigator were friendly with each other, and the defendant asked after the interview if he would be immediately going to prison. This, said the court, suggested that he understood the gravity of the situation.

The defendant also argued that his autism kept him from fully understanding that he was confessing to the crime, but the court ruled that it did not have any evidence about how the defendant’s autism would have come into play during the interrogation. Without any evidence in the record, the court could not rule that the autism affected the voluntariness of the confession.

Given these facts, the court denied the defendant’s appeal.

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