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State v. Torres

Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 3

May 9, 2017


          Fearing, C.J.

         Are special glass locomotive windows, whose composition must meet federal railroad regulations, locomotive "operating mechanisms?" We ask this question in the context of RCW 81.60.080, a fallow statute that criminalizes sabotaging rolling stock. After declining to entertain Amanda Torres' Fourth Amendment challenge to her arrest and confession, we hold that locomotive windows are not operating mechanisms and reverse her conviction for sabotaging rolling stock. We remand for a new trial on this one charge since Torres also damaged air brakes in addition to windows. We affirm other convictions for burglary and malicious mischief.


         This appeal arises from the prosecution of Amanda Torres for entry into a fenced railroad yard and vandalism to a locomotive inside the yard. This statement of facts comes from the trial and a CrR 3.5 confession hearing. We start with some trial testimony.

         Between runs, the Yakima Central Railroad parks locomotives inside a locked fence at its Wapato yard. On July 7, 2014, railroad employee Jake Shreves discovered a ransacked locomotive at the Wapato railroad yard. Shreves found the fence bent to allow access for an intruder, garbage strewn about the locomotive, four or five broken windows, and a discharged fire extinguisher. Further investigation revealed shattered glass tops of air gauges.

         The Yakima Central locomotive windows housed strong ballistic bullet proof, optically transparent glass that must meet federal regulations. The locomotive air gauges displayed the amount of air applied to engine brakes and measured the air in reserve tanks. Destroyed air gauges render a train unsafe by restricting the operator from determining if the brake system contains sufficient air for braking purposes. The law prohibits the operation of a train that lacks functioning air gauges. At trial, Yakima Central employee Jack Shreves identified the air gauge as part of the operating mechanism of the locomotive. Nevertheless, the gauge may work if the only damage is harm to the glass top. At trial, Shreves recalled no damage to the gauge needles. No witness identified the locomotive windows as operating mechanisms.

         After discovering vandalism at the Yakima Central Railroad yard, Jake Shreves contacted law enforcement. Yakima County Deputy Sheriff Sergio Reyna responded to the scene on July 7 at 8:00 a.m. Reyna reviewed and photographed the damage and unsuccessfully combed for latent fingerprints. With Deputy Reyna present, Shreves retrieved from the ground an identification card belonging to appellant Amanda Torres. Shreves handed the card to Deputy Reyna, who drove to the address listed on the card.

         An important question on appeal is whether a confession purportedly spoken by Amanda Torres to Sheriff Deputy Sergio Reyna should be suppressed. The remainder of the statement of facts comes from a confession suppression hearing.

         At 8:30 a.m., on July 7, Sheriff Deputy Sergio Reyna arrived at the Wapato address on Amanda Torres' identification card. Torres' aunt owned the house. Deputy Reyna knocked on the residence front door, a young female answered the knock, Reyna asked the young lady if he could speak to Amanda Torres, and the young female escorted Reyna to a downstairs bedroom. The identity of the young female and her relationship to the house looms important in resolving the legality of Deputy Reyna's entry inside the residence and seizure of Amanda Torres. During the suppression hearing, Torres identified the female as Isabel Batista, Torres' aunt's daughter-in-law. Torres averred that Batista was age 13 or 14 on July 7, 2014.

         The State presented no testimony to identify the young female who allowed Sheriff Deputy Sergio Reyna entrance to the Wapato home. Sergio Reyna did not know the age of the woman, although he recognized her as being "younger." Report of Proceedings (RP) at 17. Reyna described the youngish woman as being 5'3" or 5'4" in height.

         A curtain, rather than a door, separated the downstairs bedroom from the remainder of the basement, so Deputy Sergio Reyna knocked on a wooden stud and asked to speak to Amanda Torres. A male and female lay on a bed. Torres identified herself and rose from the bed. Amanda Torres and Sergio Reyna's testimony differs as to events thereafter.

         According to Amanda Torres, she awoke to Deputy Reyna's knocking and his telling her that he was a sheriff and was looking for Amanda Torres. Torres stumbled out of bed without shoes. She wore basketball shorts and a tank top, an outfit in which she slept.

         According to Amanda Torres, Deputy Sergio Reyna took her arm and told her to follow him. Reyna did not allow Torres to completely dress. Torres immediately deemed herself under arrest since Reyna gave her no choice but to obey him. Reyna neither told Torres that she was under arrest or not under arrest. Reyna concedes he possibly grabbed Torres' elbow and escorted her upstairs.

         According to Amanda Torres, when the two reached upstairs, Deputy Sergio Reyna asked Torres if the identification card in his possession was Torres' card. Torres responded in the affirmative. Reyna next asked where Torres lost the card. Torres did not respond because of the distraction of Torres' aunt returning home. The aunt asked the reason for Deputy Reyna being inside the home, inquired about who permitted Reyna's entrance, and questioned whether the deputy held a warrant. In response, Reyna escorted an unshod Torres outside.

         According to Sheriff Deputy Sergio Reyna, he sat Amanda Torres in the back of his patrol car. He then delivered Miranda warnings to Torres and questioned her about damage to the locomotive. Reyna remained outside the car and spoke to Torres with the car door open.

         According to Sergio Reyna, after he read the Miranda warnings, Amanda Torres admitted to being present at the railroad yard with friends and conceded that she and her friends had imbibed strong drink. Torres refused to be a snitch on her friends. Torres did not expressly admit to damaging the locomotive, but volunteered to take responsibility for the damage. Torres never cried and never asked for assistance of a lawyer. Reyna's patrol car contained a voice recorder, but Reyna chose not to record the conversation. During the conversation, Amanda Torres' boyfriend walked toward the car with Torres' shoes in hand. Reyna closed the car door to prevent the boyfriend access to Torres.

         According to Amanda Torres, Deputy Sergio Reyna questioned her for ten minutes as she sat in the patrol car. Reyna stood outside the car, and the two spoke with the door closed and locked, but the window halfway down. Reyna never read Torres the Miranda warnings. The deputy spoke to her as if she was guilty.

         According to Amanda Torres, Sergio Reyna claimed a videotape showed Torres damaging the locomotive and asserted that he gathered Torres' fingerprints at the scene. Reyna also declared that Torres' identification card lay inside the locomotive. Reyna asked Torres why she wreaked the damage. Torres responded that she knew not about any damage to a train. Torres cried and asked for a lawyer. She never confessed to drinking alcohol or volunteered responsibility for damage to the locomotive. She never uttered that she wished not to be a snitch.


         The State of Washington charged Amanda Torres with sabotage of rolling stock, second degree malicious mischief, and second degree burglary. The trial court conducted a CrR 3.5 hearing to determine whether to suppress Amanda Torres' purported inculpatory statements to Yakima Sheriff Deputy Sergio Reyna. During the hearing, Deputy Reyna and Amanda Torres testified.

         After the testimony at the CrR 3.5 hearing, Amanda Torres argued that she received no Miranda warnings before speaking to Sheriff Deputy Sergio Reyna in the patrol car. Torres did not assert any violation of her Fourth Amendment rights. After the hearing, the trial court adjudged Amanda Torres' statements admissible. The court found Deputy Reyna more credible than Amanda Torres, Reyna provided Miranda warnings, and Torres spoke voluntarily to Reyna. Our record lacks any written findings of fact resulting from the CrR 3.5 hearing.

         During trial, Amanda Torres testified that, as she lay in bed incompletely asleep, Sheriff Deputy Sergio Reyna grasped her arm and ushered her to the deputy's patrol car. Torres did not know where Reyna found her identification card. Torres denied damaging the train. She repudiated telling Reyna that she vandalized the train and that she drank with friends at the rail yard.

         Amanda Torres requested a jury instruction defining the term "operating mechanism" as used in RCW 81.60.080, a term found in the crime of sabotaging rolling stock. Torres wished to argue that windows do not constitute an "operating mechanism." The trial court responded:

I think that the term operating mechanism is testimony as to the gages [sic] being operating mechanism. There's also testimony that the windows are in a-a necessary part of the locomotive and-and I think you are right, I don't think the jury's going to decide this case on the basis of whether the windows ...

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