Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Idaho Edward J. Lodge, District Judge, Presiding D.C. No. CV-97-00170-S-EJL.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rymer, Circuit Judge
Argued and Submitted February 3, 2010-Seattle, Washington.
Before: Pamela Ann Rymer, Ronald M. Gould and Jay S. Bybee, Circuit Judges.
Paul Ezra Rhoades appeals the district court's denial of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. He was convicted following entry of a conditional Alford plea*fn3 for the 1987 second-degree murder and robbery of Nolan Haddon.*fn4 He received two indeterminate life sentences. The Idaho Supreme Court upheld his conviction, sentence, and denial of post-conviction relief. See State v. Rhoades (Haddon), 809 P.2d 455 (Idaho 1991). We affirm the district court's judgment.
Nolan Haddon worked the night shift at Buck's convenience store in Idaho Falls, Idaho on March 16, 1987. The next morning, Buck's owner found Haddon lying on the floor in a pool of blood. He had been shot five times. He was still alive at the time, but unconscious. He died at the hospital. An inventory of the store showed that some BIC lighters, Marlboro cigarettes, and $116 in cash were missing.
The police suspected Rhoades of a string of burglaries, including one at Lavaunda's Lingerie, and obtained a warrant to arrest Rhoades for that burglary on March 23, 1987. They learned that he was in Nevada when, on March 24, a Nevada state trooper responded to an accident involving a green Ford that was reported stolen by Rhoades's mother, Pauline Rhoades. The next evening, two Nevada law enforcement officers arrested Rhoades inside a Wells Casino. They handcuffed him, placed him across the trunk of the police car, and advised him of his Miranda rights.*fn5
Idaho officials were contacted and went to the Casino. As the Idaho team approached, Rhoades stated "I did it" without being questioned by anyone. Officer Victor Rodriguez, from Idaho, again advised Rhoades of his Miranda rights. Rhoades was asked if he understood those rights, and said something to the effect of "I do, yes." Detective Dennis Shaw, also from Idaho, searched Rhoades, and found two packages of Marlboro cigarettes and five BIC lighters similar to those taken from the store. Shaw also found a ten dollar bill, a one dollar bill, and a one-hundred dollar bill. He told Rhoades he had found three dollars, to which Rhoades responded: "It better be $111." Rhoades was then taken to the Wells Highway Patrol substation for booking.
At the station, Shaw remarked that he wished he had arrested Rhoades on an earlier occasion, and that he would probably have saved the last victim's life. Rhoades raised his head and said, "I did it."
The state filed an amended complaint charging Rhoades with Haddon's first degree murder and the robbery at Buck's convenience store.*fn6 Rhoades filed a motion to suppress all statements he made while in custody. Evidence was taken at the preliminary hearing, and the trial court conducted an evidentiary hearing on the motion to suppress. The court found that Rhoades's first "I did it" statement at the arrest scene was admissible because the statement was spontaneous. It found that Shaw's remark at the station was the functional equivalent of interrogation, but that Rhoades had been advised of his Miranda rights and had not invoked them. The court also found that Rhoades's second "I did it" statement at the station was voluntary because he appeared to understand and comprehend the situation.
Rhoades later filed another motion to exclude the "I did it" statements based on the officers' failure to tape record them, failure to record the statements in their police reports in a timely fashion, and failure of some of the officers present to hear the statements. Additionally, he argued that the statements were unreliable. The court declined to exclude either statement, noting that it had the benefit of testimony from the Michelbacher portion of the case. It found that the first statement was a spontaneous ...