ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Parts of Paul Apodaca’s confession to three cold case murders from the late ’80s can be used as evidence against him. This was after a judge made a ruling on a motion to suppress the motion filed by his lawyers.
Apodaca’s motion to suppress the hearing continued Monday morning after Judge Cindy Leos ruled last month that she needed more time to hear arguments. His lawyers filed a motion to have it suppressed claiming his statements were made while suffering mental health issues – meaning they were involuntary.
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However, the State argued that Apodaca made these statements voluntarily to a security guard at UNMH. “He was not in custody whatsoever. He had approached the security guard, made the statement,” said attorney Dwayne Martin in court.
Judge Leos ruled these statements were voluntary, meaning anything said to the security guard could be used as evidence. Apodaca’s lawyers also claimed UNM police didn’t read their client his Miranda Rights, after taking him into custody. Which the state agreed with.
“I would concede that point, that they are then at the UNM Police Department after they transported the defendant, and he is certainly continuing to be in custody, but then they are asking specific questions trying to elicit information,” said Martin.
Cindy Leos ruled any statement made to UNM police can’t be used during the trial. When it comes to APD’s interview, the court determined that the detective wasn’t given information about the confession before talking with Apodaca, meaning there was no contamination of information from earlier statements made to UNM police.
Once Apodaca made his confession, she stopped the interview. The detective asked Apodaca if he understood these rights.
Detective Gonterman: What does that mean?
Apodaca: That I don’t have to say anything.
Gonterman: Right. It means you don’t have to speak.
Judge Cindy Leos determined Apodaca understood his rights after that and ruled that, although everything said from UNM’s interview up to Apodaca being read his Miranda Rights, cannot be used in court. Every detail he gave APD after being read his rights is admissible – like admitting to raping 21-year-old Althea Oakley and stabbing her to death in 1988, to shooting and killing 13-year-old Stella Gonzales the following month, and the shooting death of Kaitlyn Arquette in 1989.
Apodaca’s lawyers also claimed their client was suffering from mental health issues when he confessed, meaning this was an involuntary confession. Medical officials determined he was not having a mental health episode.
Judge Leos also ruled his original confession to a UNM Hospital security guard can be used in court. Apodaca has pleaded not guilty.