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State v. Brooks

Supreme Court of Montana

December 11, 2018

STATE OF MONTANA, Plaintiff and Appellee,
v.
MACIO NORVEIL BROOKS, Defendant and Appellant.

          Submitted on Briefs: November 8, 2018

          District Court of the Fourth Judicial District, In and For the County of Missoula, Cause No. DC 15-126 Honorable John W. Larson, Presiding Judge.

          For Appellant: Chad Wright, Appellate Defender, Kristina L. Neal, Assistant Appellate Defender, Helena, Montana

          For Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, Michael L. Fanning, Assistant General, Helena, Montana, Kirsten H. Pabst, Missoula County Attorney, Brian C. Lowney, Deputy County Attorney, Missoula, Montana

          OPINION

          Jim Rice, Justice.

         ¶1 Pursuant to Section I, Paragraph 3(c), Montana Supreme Court Internal Operating Rules, this case is decided by memorandum opinion and shall not be cited and does not serve as precedent. Its case title, cause number, and disposition shall be included in this Court's quarterly list of noncitable cases published in the Pacific Reporter and Montana Reports.

         ¶2 Appellant Macio Norveil Brooks (Brooks) appeals his conviction for failure to register as a violent or sexual offender following jury trial in the Fourth Judicial District Court, Missoula County. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for entry of amended judgment.

         ¶3 Brooks was arrested for failure to register as a violent or sexual offender following a stop by Officer Volinkaty of the Missoula Police Department in 2015. Brooks was required to register pursuant to his 1998 adjudication in a Minnesota youth court of committing a sexual offense. Brooks registered in Montana as a sexual offender from 2007 to 2014. During that time, Brooks was convicted twice in Minnesota for failing to register as a predatory offender.

         ¶4 On February 15, 2015, Brooks and N.M., who Brooks claimed was his common law wife, were walking down Brooks Street in Missoula between 1 and 2 a.m. after leaving a restaurant. The Missoula Police Department received a call from someone at the restaurant who observed N.M. had bruises on her face and legs and was wearing only underwear, a bra, a coat, and shoes, but no pants. The caller had overheard Brooks say to N.M. that, had her outfit been more "on-point," they would have made more money. Concerned about sexual trafficking, Volinkaty located the couple to perform a welfare check.

         ¶5 Volinkaty pulled up behind the couple on Brooks Street in his patrol car with his lights flashing, but no siren. He asked Brooks for his name and inquired whether Brooks and his "lady" would talk to him "real quick." Volinkaty assured the couple that they were "not under arrest." Volinkaty explained that someone at the restaurant had called police to perform a welfare check on the couple, and Brooks responded that they were "homeless." N.M., still dressed in only underclothes and a coat, asked what the problem was. Brooks put his hand over her mouth and attempted to quiet her, saying "shhh, shhh." N.M. stated the couple had not been at the restaurant. Volinkaty asked whether they had family in town. Volinkaty then asked N.M. if he could speak with her while Brooks spoke to his partner, Officer O'Dell (O'Dell), who had just arrived at the scene. N.M. voluntarily walked a few steps away with Volinkaty while he reiterated that she was "not in any trouble." He asked whether N.M. was safe with Brooks, and N.M. replied she was "fine" and "more than safe" with Brooks. After a few more minutes of discussion, N.M. re-joined Brooks, who was speaking with O'Dell and another unidentified officer.

         ¶6 While Volinkaty returned to his patrol car to determine whether N.M. was listed on any prostitution websites, O'Dell asked Brooks what he and N.M. were doing, and stated that he was not accusing Brooks of doing "anything illegal, anything like that." The officers learned that Brooks was registered as a sex offender in Great Falls, and that he had been in Missoula about one month, without registering. One of the officers stated that Brooks had three days to register in a new county, not one month. Brooks stated that he did not know he had to register.

         ¶7 Volinkaty then again asked to speak with N.M. alone, inquiring how long she had been with Brooks and how they met. Volinkaty confirmed from N.M. that the couple had been in Missoula for one month. Volinkaty reiterated that he just wanted to help her. N.M. again terminated her interaction with Volinkaty and re-joined Brooks. Shortly thereafter, the officers arrested Brooks for failing to register as a sex offender. Brooks was handcuffed and placed in the back of a patrol car.

         ¶8 In the District Court, Brooks filed a motion to suppress the statements he made to the officers on the ground that a Miranda warning was required at the outset of their encounter. At the suppression hearing, the District Court reviewed videos of the parties' interactions recorded from the officers' dashboard and body cameras. The court found that the officers' questioning was not a custodial interrogation requiring a Miranda warning, and denied Brooks' motion.

         ¶9 Brooks moved the District Court to prohibit the State from offering evidence of his past convictions for failing to register, and sought to offer a defense of confusion. Ultimately, after preliminary rulings, the District Court permitted Brooks to offer the defense, but also ruled Brooks' past convictions would be admissible for the State to counter the defense. The court further ruled it would take judicial notice of the ...


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