By William McCurry
SACRAMENTO, CA – The defendant in an alleged attempted murder case may have had his police statement “coerced”—the police suggested he’d get a better deal if he cooperated during an eight-hour interrogation—according to testimony here this week in a preliminary hearing.
Although Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Curtis Fiorini delayed ruling on a defense motion about the supposed “coerced” statement, he still found Emmanuel Pacheco should stand trial.
After a night of drinking, defendant Emmanuel Pacheco and a couple of his acquaintances allegedly fired shots after an altercation arose outside Kings Wine & Liquor, leaving one victim disabled with no feeling in her legs.
According to the facts of the case, on Oct. 4, 2020, at approximately midnight officers were dispatched to Kings Wine & Liquor on multiple calls of hearing gunshots in the parking lot. Of the calls coming in about the shooting in the parking lot, the callers stated that cars were leaving the scene and one person was shot.
Deputy District Attorney Alex Sanders called Deputy Anthony Chilelli, who explained that he observed the victim who was shot, and was able to speak to a witness who was sitting in her vehicle when the shooting occurred. Deputy Chilelli stated the victim received a gunshot wound to her back right behind her shoulder.
While he was getting a statement from the witness who was in her car, she stated that it was a group of males who fired the shots and fled the scene in a greyish blue minivan. Prior to their leaving, she heard what sounded like the side door of the van open and heard gunshots following the door opening.
DDA Sanders then called Deputy Gene Goff who testified about finding the vehicle that was called into dispatch. Deputy Goff testified that he was on an off-duty assignment but, while he was working his off-duty assignment, he was still monitoring broadcasts that were coming in from dispatch.
Deput Goff testified that, moments prior to dispatch describing the greyish blue minivan that the males were fleeing in, he saw the vehicle pass him. “The minivan actually passed me and the broadcast came out about the minivan, so I caught up to the minivan,” he said.
When he first saw the minivan, Goff testified that the minivan was moving a “little faster than the speed of traffic” but it wasn’t excessive enough that he would have immediately pulled them over.
Deputy Goff called the license plate number into dispatch and was informed that the registration had been suspended. He pulled them over in a traffic stop.
Once they pulled over, two males exited the vehicle and hopped over the freeway fence. Deputy Goff testified that, once he was talking to the individuals in the car, he got mixed stories from each of them and no one could really tell him where they were coming from and where they were.
When DDA Sanders called her third witness, some issues arose that questioned whether Pacheco’s statement that was given was coerced. Sanders’ third witness, Det. Darryl Deguzman, was one of the detectives who interrogated Pacheco.
Det. Deguzman also interrogated one of the passengers in the vehicle who told him she saw Pacheco fire his handgun at the liquor store. She stated that she heard six shots fired and when he re-entered the vehicle after firing the shots he seemed “excited.”
She identified Pacheco when Detective Deguzman showed her a photo of Pacheco at the police station.
In a cross from Assistant Public Defender Jesse Ortiz, it was established that the interviewees were drinking.
When Deguzman began his interrogation with the passenger of the vehicle, it was 6:45 a.m., hours after the shooting had occurred, and she had only briefly slept in the interrogation room. When asked how much sleep she got, Det. Deguzman responded with “we did not cover that in her interview.”
In the first time she mentioned Pacheco with the gun, she stated that she’s “pretty sure that he had a gun.” Later in the interview she stated that she saw him with the gun. Ortiz attacked this “pretty sure” statement by asking Det. Deguzman if he clarified whether or not she actually saw it or if she was assuming.
The detective did not go back and clarify why she changed her statement from that she was “pretty sure” he had a gun to seeing him shoot the gun.
In her interview she told the detective that she “felt like it was him who fired the gun,” but the detective did not ask where she was seated when he fired the gun or where Pacheco was at when he fired the gun.
“Now that you bring it up, I could’ve done a better job,” stated Det. Deguzman.
At the end of her interview, she told the detective she “feels” that it was him, then “I think” it was him, and then “it was him” all in the same paragraph at the end of her statement.
Det. Deguzman also did not document showing her photos of Pacheco, so there is no record of her identifying him.
During the interview with Pacheco, Deguzman said that the courts may be more lenient if he is more “truthful” when giving his statements. “We’re talking years” is how Deguzman explained how his cooperation would help.
When Pacheco first explained the shooting, he stated that he was drunk and didn’t know anything. It wasn’t until the detective told him that the courts may be lenient with his cooperation that he changed his story.
“What I’m saying is your choices from this point forward will impact your life,” stated Deguzman in the interview.
Sanders then called Det. Nick Sheehan. He conducted the interview of the driver of the minivan alongside Det. Deguzman, who was also shown a picture of Pacheco, who she identified as the shooter.
She claimed she saw him fire his “black handgun” at the liquor store but she only saw him with the gun at the time of the shooting.
She told the detectives that he was firing toward the liquor store and specifically saw him shoot “four times.”
Ortiz filed a motion to suppress Pacheco’s statement to the police, claiming his statement was coerced by the detectives.
Ortiz maintained that Pacheco was in this interrogation room for eight hours cuffed to the table by his hands and legs, and only given a bottle of water but not offered any food, or anything else.
“The issue here was what was said to Mr. Pacheco and the law is clear that any promises of leniency renders any statements made there after invalid because they’re not voluntary,” argued Ortiz.
“All the court has to find is that a person is led to believe that he might expect some leniency, and that’s why I asked this detective specific questions. I asked him what you’re telling him was that he might expect leniency if he told the truth,” stated Ortiz.
Ortiz insisted that this is clearly coercive.
Besides the statement that may be thrown out at the Trial Readiness Conference, the judge found that these acts were committed and held Pacheco to answer on all three counts, including attempted murder with malice aforethought, and assault and unlawful possession of a firearm after being convicted of a robbery.
Judge Curtis Fiorini stated that there is some case law that he needs to review in order to find whether or not to grant Ortiz’s motion to suppress Pacheco’s statement to the police, but even without the statement there was enough evidence to find that he committed these acts.
Jury trial is set for June 14 and Trial Readiness Conference is set for June 9.
William McCurry is a fourth-year at Sacramento State, majoring in Criminal Justice. He is from Brentwood, California.
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