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Murder Case Dropped Against Immigrant After Botched Translation of Rights

Associated Press

June 09, 2011

REYNOLDSBURG, OH – An aggravated murder case against an illegal immigrant in Ohio has been dropped because a judge ruled that a Spanish interpreter botched reading the man his rights during a police interview.

Assistant prosecutor Mark Wodarcyk said there wasn’t sufficient evidence to go to trial after Franklin County Common Pleas Judge John Bessey ruled last month to suppress the statements that Antonio M. Martinez-Nunez made during phone interviews with Reynoldsburg police, The Columbus Dispatch reports.

“His statements were the cornerstone of our case,” Wodarcyk told the newspaper. “We were left with insufficient evidence to go forward and have any reasonable chance of succeeding at trial.”

Martinez-Nunez, 31, had been charged with nine counts, including aggravated murder and abuse of a corpse in the death of Armondo Casillas Castanedo, whose body was found in a parked car in the Columbus suburb of Reynoldsburg in August 2009. Police think Castanedo, a 36-year-old illegal immigrant, was killed a few days earlier in a feud over drug territory. An autopsy determined that he was asphyxiated.

Martinez-nunez640_max200w

Antonio Martinez-Nunez (Reynoldsburg Police Department)

Martinez-Nunez was a suspect when he was arrested by the border patrol as he tried to re-enter the country illegally in Texas in February 2010, the newspaper reported. Reynoldsburg police conducted a phone interview with Martinez-Nunez from Texas with the help of a Spanish interpreter in Reynoldsburg, but a defense interpreter found that the first interpreter gave Martinez-Nunez incomplete Miranda warnings of his rights.

During a brief phone interview on Wednesday, defense attorney Brian Rigg said he felt relieved for Martinez-Nunez, who now faces deportation.

“This doesn’t happen too often,” Rigg told FoxNews.com. “It’s a success story. The judge and the prosecutors did the right thing.”

The police interpreter failed to tell Martinez-Nunez that he could end the interview at any time, and Martinez-Nunez also made several requests to talk with his consulate that were not acknowledged, Rigg told The Associated Press Tuesday. Rigg also said that police and prosecutors were not aware of the translation problems until the second interpreter pointed them out.

Judge John Bessey, who ruled to suppress the statements, said Monday that Martinez-Nunez also didn’t receive or sign a written waiver of his rights during the phone interview with police, and did not orally waive his rights before making statements that showed “he had knowledge of the killing.”

Martinez-Nunez did sign a waiver of his rights after he was returned to Ohio and gave police another interview.

“My concern was, when he got to Ohio, police were building on information that was illegally obtained during the phone interview,” Bessey said.

Lis Wiehl, a former federal prosecutor and a Fox News legal analyst, said she agreed with the judge’s ruling in the case, but cited the “collateral damage” to relatives of Castanedo.

“The problem is that the victims’ relatives in this case are the collateral damage, if you will,” Wiehl said Wednesday. “But I don’t disagree with the judge’s ruling in that there’s a reason when we have the Miranda warning procedures in place. If you flubbed it that bad, then it’s ineffective Mirandization and the victim’s family is the collateral damage of that sloppy work.”


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    kclark1206

    about 3 years ago

    80 Comments

    ILLEGAL ALIENS ARE NOT CITIZENS AND SHOULD NOT BE REQUIRED TO BE GIVEN MIRANDA! LIBERALS ARE KILLING THIS COUNTRY!

  • Reblemac_max50

    Keiffer158

    about 3 years ago

    94 Comments

    I still don't understand why people who are not citizens of this country get the rights of this country.

  • In_remembrance_of_oakland_pd_max50_max50_max50_max50_max50

    rhood

    about 3 years ago

    23592 Comments

    Hate to see this dirtbag walk, but the rule of law is there to protect. Air drop his sorry butt back into Mexico.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    about 3 years ago

    One violent crime that could be prevented by having a sound border policy is one violent crime too many!

  • Here_and_there_052_max50

    sajimtreacy

    about 3 years ago

    504 Comments

    Given the Supreme Court ruling last year that eased the Miranda warnings, I'm surprised that the DAs office isn't appealing this--the ruling states that a subject must specifically acknowledge his warnings for them to be in effect (IE, silence doesn't equate with an invocation of one's right to remain silent), and that the police may speak with a suspect again after waiting two weeks. I'm thinking there were more problems with this case than in the article, and that the DA considers this what used to be called NHI cases--no human involvement (a drug dealer killing another drug dealer). And bump Robocop--the translator in this matter either wasn't competent to do the translation in a criminal interview, or wasn't briefed properly beforehand. I've used translators often (including presently here in Baghdad) and using them requires a real knowledge of their capabilties and limitations and good pre-briefs as to how to approach the interaction (whether a conversation, interview or speech). It's tough, no doubt, but a lot of folks do it with no major problems cropping up later...

  • Pug_max600_max50

    DALLASCRANE

    about 3 years ago

    19382 Comments

    Sad to see him walk. He will be back. Next time he won't get a free ride.

  • Fallenherobadge-3-1_max50_max50

    aussie4

    about 3 years ago

    5328 Comments

    Not a surprise, an illegal kills someone IN America and gets away with it, and this murderer is a mexican, so no surpirse there. I am armed and ready and willing and able.

  • Anonymous-killer-whale-232189_1__max50

    Whalewatcher

    about 3 years ago

    11194 Comments

    Hate to see a murderer get away with his crime; considering he was arrested trying to get back into the country, he will probably be back and maybe then he can be arrested again and tried for his crime. Just hope the mistakes of the past won't be repeated.

  • 1979_max50

    Robocop33

    about 3 years ago

    14618 Comments

    I beg to differ that the Officers did NOT screw up. The person that was doing the interpreting was the one who erred and it was an unintentional omission. His confession should stand as the Police and prosecutors acted in good faith. When a minor mistake is made completely unintentionally, especially when it comes to such a heinous crime, it should have been allowed.

  • Track_max50

    TVEZ

    about 3 years ago

    52 Comments

    @Feez, how would establishing a single official language resolve this problem? If they don't speak English they get no rights? I completely agree with sniper when he says deportation will not fix this issue, but even if what you wanted were to be set in stone it wouldn't fix a thing. What if a tourist came here from say, Sweden and murdered someone, would his rights be revoked because he can't speak English. This is a sensitive subject and while I hate to see this man get off scott free, the only person to blame for not sentencing this man is the translator.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Feez

    about 3 years ago

    48 Comments

    Establish a single official language and this type of situation is no longer a problem.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    CDG59263

    about 3 years ago

    100 Comments

    About seven years ago the ninth circuit court of appeals (read most liberal) ruled against a major drug dealer saying that his very status as an illegal alien and the fnct that he was not making a contribution to society but was tearing at the very fabric of it nullified the rights guaranted to him by the Constitution. Nice, thought process but it was wrong. Maybe the next Constitutional Convention could address that if it's not too late.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Silent_Observer

    about 3 years ago

    446 Comments

    When the bill of rights was enumerated it was made clear that these rights were human rights, not just American rights. The dirt bag's immigration status is irrelevant. Anyone who has sworn an oath to the constitution should really stop to read the stupid thing and stop playing the cafeteria games that are ruining this country. These rights are in place to keep good people from getting screwed by the government. Anybody that wants to live in a nation with no rights where police and the judicial system can do as they please, and "security" and "safety" exist in theory only can follow this looser over to Mexico, because that is where that mentality leads. This mess started with the Fed's refusal to honor their duty to provide a common defense for the states. How some people think that shredding other parts of the constitution they swore an oath to is a solution is beyond me. The judges ruling was correct, the officers involved here did screw up, the victims family should be pissed, and the agency involved should be thinking long and hard about how they are going to make sure this type of screw up won't happen again without blaming the constitution for their screw up.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    azgrrlcop

    about 3 years ago

    12 Comments

    Anyone who is within the boundaries of this great country is afforded the guarantee of the protection of their rights as stated in the Constitution; they do not have to be a citizen. This was a forethought of our forefathers. This is unfortunate but the system is failing us. According to the Constitution everyone is to get due process under the law. Because there are so many immigrants in this country who do not speak the native tongue, the system needs to be revamped. Maybe a system of audio recordings of the top languages or maybe some kind of translation system like the United Nations has, but a new system. Hell, non-citizens are pretty lucky here--of an American gets arrested in a foreign country they can ONLY ask for their consulate, there are no Miranda Warnings. But Miranda is what sets us apart from the rest of the world. Do not punish cops because we are not versed in more than one language--create a translation system so that we can continue to do our jobs and not have the courts let a murderer go so he can again terrorize someone's family. Let's push to overhaul a broken system

  • Bcpdpatch2_max50

    prophet911

    about 3 years ago

    126 Comments

    murder v. deportation. He'll be back to do some more crimes so we can pay for his housing and three square a day. And I don't mean in jail. He's an illegal, he has rights!!!

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