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Arizona Court of Appeals Rejects Defendant’s Argument in Aggravated Assault and Child Abuse Case

In a recent case before an appeals court in Arizona, the defendant asked the court to reconsider his convictions for aggravated assault and child abuse. He primarily argued that the trial court should not have denied a motion to suppress incriminating evidence – the denial of the motion was unfair, and it eventually contributed to his guilty convictions. Examining the trial court’s decision, the court of appeals denied the defendant’s argument and decided against siding with the defendant.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, this case began when a mother brought her 8-month-old baby to an emergency room due to a head injury. Doctors examined the baby and learned he had been shot in the head. The baby went through treatment, and he eventually left the hospital with cerebral palsy, impaired vision, and a lifelong increased risk for seizure. The doctors considered the baby lucky to be alive.

Investigators began trying to figure out how the baby got shot. Officers obtained a search warrant and went to the baby’s father’s home, where they found a pellet gun rifle, pellets, and a car seat covered in blood. Two officers interviewed the baby’s dad in a patrol car that same day, and he admitted that he might have accidentally shot his baby while shooting quail.

The defendant was criminally charged, and he immediately filed a motion to suppress his statement to police officers. The court denied the motion, and the defendant’s case went to trial. He was later found guilty, and he was sentenced to significant time in prison for both aggravated assault and child abuse.

The Decision

The defendant appealed, arguing that the trial court should have granted his motion to suppress the conversation with the police officer in the patrol car. Specifically, he claimed that the officer threatened him in the car, which made his confession involuntary and, therefore, inadmissible at trial.

The court of appeals reviewed the defendant’s appeal and did not find any reason to vacate the trial court’s ruling on the motion to suppress. There was no specific evidence of a threat. While the defendant argued that the officer kept turning the bodycam on and off, the court concluded that this switching “on and off” did not mean that the officer was acting threateningly in any way. The court could not find that the officer coerced the defendant to speak, and it, therefore, denied the defendant’s appeal.

The defendant’s convictions and sentence remained in place.

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