United States District Court, E.D. Washington
LUIS A. AVILA, Petitioner,
JAMES R. KEY, Defendants.
ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR FEDERAL HABEAS
STANLEY A. BASTIAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is Luis Avila's (Petitioner) Petition for Writ
of Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody, ECF No. 5.
Petitioner is an inmate at the Airway Heights Corrections
Center pursuant to a judgment and sentence of the Asotin
County Superior Court. He was convicted by jury verdict on
one count of second degree rape. Petitioner requests this
Court issue a writ of habeas corpus, arguing his conviction
was obtained in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth
Amendments to the United States Constitution. For the
following reasons, the Court denies the petition for federal
13, 2011, Detective Jackie Nichols received a report that
Bonnie Larson, an elderly woman residing a Sycamore Glen
Family Home - an adult care facility - had been raped at the
facility by an employee later identified as Luis Avila.
receiving this report, Detective Nichols called Mr. Avila and
“asked if he would be willing to come in for an
interview.” Mr. Avila agreed, and together they
“arranged a time which would be mutually
convenient.” Sharee Kromrei, the owner of Sycamore
Glen, and a friend of Mr. Avila's, then contacted
Detective Nichols and asked to be present at the interview.
Detective Nichols agreed.
16, 2011, Ms. Kromrei drove Mr. Avila to the sheriff's
office. Detective Nichols escorted them to the interview
room, which is
where we conduct all our interviews, victim interviews,
child/victim interviews, adult interviews. So it's, the
setting is conducive to being comfortable it's got
upholstered chairs, pictures on the walls kind of a neutral
tone in the paint, carpet, you know, it's like a throw
rug type carpet on the floor.
the interview room, Ms. Kromrei and Mr. Avila sat next to
each other on the side of the table nearest to the door.
Nothing blocked Mr. Avila's path to the door.
Nichols, in full uniform, told Mr. Avila he was free to leave
at any time. At no time was Mr. Avila handcuffed or
physically restrained. Neither Ms. Kromrei nor Mr. Avila were
searched. Detective Nichols did not inform Mr. Avila of his
Miranda rights before interviewing him.
the interview, which lasted no more than 20 minutes, Mr.
Avila appeared to understand the questions he was asked and
the allegations at issue, never declined to answer any
questions, never requested an interpreter or a lawyer, and
never asked to leave. When the interview was over, Mr. Avila
and Ms. Kromrei walked out of the sheriff's office
a year later, on May 15, 2012, the State charged Luis Avila
with the second degree rape of Bonnie Larson. In preparation
for trial, defense counsel did not request a CrR 3.5 hearing
to determine whether Mr. Avila's statements to Detective
Nichols had been made voluntarily. At trial, Detective
Nichols testified about the statements Mr. Avila made during
the interview. Mr. Avila also testified at trial in his own
defense. The statements Detective Nichols attributed to Mr.
Avila were inconsistent with Mr. Avila's trial testimony.
At the conclusion of the trial, the jury found Mr. Avila
guilty, and the court sentenced him to 90 months to life.
direct appeal, Petitioner challenged the voluntariness of his
statements to Detective Nichols during the June 16, 2011
interview. In response, the State requested the matter be
remanded to the trial court for a CrR 3.5 hearing. The Court
of Appeals granted the State's motion and remanded the
case for a CrR 3.5 hearing.
superior court held a CrR 3.5 hearing on January 15, 2015.
The superior court concluded Petitioner's statements to
Detective Nichols on June 16, 2011, were not the result of a
custodial interrogation. Therefore, Petitioner's
statements were voluntary and admissible. The superior
court's Order contained the following findings of fact:
1. On June 12, 2011, Bonnie J. Larson, an elderly resident of
the Sycamore Glen Family Home, a facility licensed by the
state for long-term care, told various people at her church
that she had been forcibly raped by an employee of the home
the previous night.
2. On June 13, 2011 when at the local hospital for a routine
appointment, Ms. Larson reported again that she had been
raped at Sycamore Glen on June 11, 2011 by a caregiver named
“Luis.” She was given a rape examination but
there were no overt signs of assault. The medical personnel
collected “swabs” as part of a standard rape kit,
which were sent to the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab for
3. The medical personnel contacted law enforcement and
Detective Jackie Nichols of the Asotin County Sheriff's
Office was assigned the case and responded to the hospital to
4. Detective Nichols interviewed Ms. Larson at the hospital
and spoke with other potential witnesses.
5. The Detective contacted Saree Kromrei, the Administrator
of Sycamore Glen. Ms. Kromrei told Detective Nichols that the
employee identified as “Luis” was Luis A. Avila.
She indicated that she was a friend of Mr. Avila's and
that she had heard about the report but did not believe it.
She told the Detective that she had already spoken with Mr.
Avila and that he had told her that the accusations were
6. Over the next few days Detective Nichols continued her
investigation and at some point called Mr. Avila on the phone
and asked if he would be willing to come in for an interview.
Mr. Avila agreed to come in and together they arranged a time
which would be mutually convenient.
7. After speaking with Mr. Avila on the phone, Detective
Nichols received a call from Ms. Kromrei. She asked if she
could accompany Mr. Avila to the interview. Detective Nichols
told her that she had no objection and that she was welcome
8. On June 16, 2011, during regular working hours. Luis A.
Avila and Sharee Kromrei arrived at the Asotin County
Sheriff's Office for the interview, having driven to that
location in a private vehicle. They were met by Detective
Nichols in the lobby and escorted to the interview room
inside of the Sheriff's Office.
9. The interview room is regularly used for non-custodial
interviews of witnesses, victims (including child victims),
and persons of interest. The room is decorated in a
nonthreatening manner with “homey” decor which
includes muted lighting, upholstered ...