Steamboat Springs Defense attorneys for the Steamboat Springs woman charged with the murder of her 1-year-old daughter are seeking to suppress statements Luz Cisneros made on the day of her daughter's death as well as evidence acquired from searches of her residence, according to motions filed Friday.
Cisneros, 34, is due to stand trial in September in Routt County District Court in connection with the Sept. 6, 2007, death of her daughter, Brianna Simon, at their Walton Pond apartment. Cisneros pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder on March 13 and could face life in prison or the death penalty if convicted.
She has remained in custody at Routt County Jail and at the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo since her Sept. 6 arrest. No bail was set in her case.
According to sworn police affidavits, Brianna's father Isaias Simon called 911 the morning of Sept. 6 from a neighbor's home to report that Cisneros was holding a knife to their daughter's neck and stomach. Officers who responded forced their way inside the locked apartment, where they saw Cisneros come down the stairs holding her injured daughter, the affidavits state.
Brianna was taken to Yampa Valley Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead. Autopsy reports indicated the 1-year-old died from a "total transection of the left jugular vein" due to an "incised wound to the neck."
Cisneros also was transported to the hospital for treatment of a self-inflicted laceration to the neck, according to the affidavits. After her release, she was interrogated at the Steamboat Springs Police Department for nearly four hours, and then booked into Routt County Jail.
The defense has moved to suppress all statements made by Cisneros at the scene, in the ambulance, at the hospital and during her interrogation at the police department, as well as all evidence derived from those statements. Her public defenders are arguing that "Ms. Cisneros' mental, emotional and physical state rendered her statements involuntary," according to the motion. According to court documents, Cisneros also gave consent for a search of her residence at that time, which the defense argues was involuntary given her condition.
In addition to consenting to the search of her residence, Cisneros agreed to allow police to take physical evidence from her person and access her medical records, according to court documents. A defense motion aims to suppress that evidence because Cisneros, a legal resident alien who holds Mexican citizenship, was not notified of her right to consular notification and access until the end of her interrogation.
At Cisneros' most recent court hearing in March, public defender Sheryl Uhlmann announced her intention to request a change of venue for the trial given the amount of pretrial publicity. Documents filed with the court Friday state that Cisneros reserves her right to request such a move at a later date.
The defense has filed motions requesting sequestration of the selected jury, and for potential jurors to be questioned separately and answer additional questions about prior personal experiences relating to assault or abuse during jury selection.
Cisneros' public defenders, Uhlmann and Emily Wickham, filed a total of 24 motions with the court Friday. The motions, along with the prosecution's responses, will be heard in Routt County District Court on July 17 and 18.
Cisneros also has been charged with two misdemeanor counts of violating a protection order since her incarceration began. The charges stem from her alleged attempts at contacting Brianna's father. The defense has filed a motion seeking to exclude any testimony or evidence regarding such contact, including a packet of letters Simon turned over to the Steamboat Springs Police Department in November.
The defense also filed a written objection to introducing photographs from Brianna's autopsy, and filed a motion seeking to suppress results from the autopsy that were inadvertently contaminated.
Additional motions request that Sheriff's Office deputies escorting Cisneros to the courtroom wear civilian clothes and not display their weapons, and that the court permit and accommodate the qualification of non-English-speaking jurors.
Cisneros is due to appear in court at 8:30 a.m. July 17 for a 1 1/2-day motions hearing. A pretrial conference is scheduled for 1 p.m. July 25.
The murder trial will begin at 8:15 a.m. Sept. 8 in Routt County District Court.