Evidence admissible in Cisneros case

Murder trial to begin Sept. 8 in Routt County District Court


Statements and evidence gained from Luz Cisneros on Sept. 6, 2007 - the day she is suspected of killing her 1-year-old daughter - are admissible in her upcoming murder trial, Routt County District Court Judge Michael O'Hara determined Thursday.

Cisneros' public defenders, Sheryl Uhlmann and Emily Wickham, were seeking to suppress statements made to law enforcement officers on the day of her arrest and during her interrogation, as well as evidence and information acquired from searches of her residence.

Cisneros, 34, is due to stand trial in September in Routt County District Court, in connection with the death of her daughter, Brianna Simon, at their Walton Pond apartment. Cisneros is suspected of killing her young daughter by cutting her neck with a kitchen knife before injuring herself in the same manner in a failed suicide attempt.

The motions to suppress focused on a variety of legal grounds, including the alleged unlawfulness of police's initial warrantless entry into Cisneros' home, and that Cisneros' mental, physical and emotional condition made her incapable of giving consent to search her residence and rendered her statements involuntary.

The only statements that will be withheld from the jury next month will be those from a conversation Cisneros had with a priest at Yampa Valley Medical Center before undergoing surgery for her injuries. Detectives refused to leave the room during a conversation that otherwise would have been privileged, which O'Hara called "unfair."

Law enforcement, paramedics and hospital staff who had contact with Cisneros on the date of the alleged crime were questioned as part of a motions hearing that began in July and concluded Thursday. Witnesses recollected their interactions with the defendant and her actions and statements on that day.

The prosecution also entered into evidence the 911 call made by Brianna's father, Isaias Simon, and a recording of Cisneros' nearly four-hour interrogation at the Steamboat Springs Police Department.

O'Hara also found that Cisneros was not properly notified of her right to consular access on the date of her arrest. As a resident alien who holds Mexican citizenship, Cisneros was not informed of her right to contact her home country's consulate until nearly 12 hours after she was in custody, which O'Hara found violated her rights under the Vienna Convention.

However, he noted that federal case law deems suppression of statements inappropriate in cases when the Vienna Convention has been violated, and further found that sanctions are inappropriate in this case.

Throughout her contact with police on the day of her arrest, Cisneros repeatedly stated that she wanted to cooperate and not hinder the investigation, and she did not seek legal counsel even after her Miranda rights were explained, O'Hara said.

"It's unlikely that she would have done anything differently if she had been advised," O'Hara said.

Cisneros pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder March 13. If convicted on the Class 1 felony charge, she faces life in prison without the possibility of parole; prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty in her case.

Cisneros' trial is set to begin at 8:15 a.m. Sept. 8, and is scheduled for seven days in Routt County District Court.


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