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State v. Khoang

Court of Appeals of Iowa

August 15, 2018

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
KHAM KHIENE KHOANG, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Karen A. Romano (motion to suppress) and David N. May (trial), Judges.

         Defendant appeals the denial of his motion to suppress.

          Paul J. Statler of Statler Law Firm, PLLC, Des Moines, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Zachary C. Miller, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Bower and McDonald, JJ.

          BOWER, Judge.

         Kham Khiene Khoang appeals his conviction for possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, second offense. Khoang claims due process under the Iowa Constitution requires the recording of all police interrogations. He also challenges the court's ruling on his motion to suppress, claiming he was not adequately informed of his Miranda rights prior to interrogation. We affirm.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         On June 29, 2016, officers obtained and executed a search warrant for a home in Des Moines, Iowa. Also included in the search warrant were the residents, Elizabeth Briseno and Khoang. Police had been surveilling the residence for several months based on multiple tips from informants, including executing controlled purchases of methamphetamine at the residence and examining abandoned trash at the curb found to contain drug residue. One informant specifically identified Khoang as selling methamphetamine.

         When law enforcement arrived at the residence to execute the search warrant, they found Khoang sitting outside in the driver's seat of a vehicle. He was taken into custody. An officer told Khoang they had a search warrant for the residence but did not show him the warrant until after the residence was secured. The search yielded Khoang's cellular phone, over $2700 in cash in his pocket, and methamphetamine and paraphernalia with drug residue in the vehicle and residence. Khoang also provided the pass code to his phone. Text messages in the phone indicated Khoang's involvement in dealing drugs.

         An officer advised Khoang of his Miranda rights, which he stated he understood. Khoang admitted to a daily methamphetamine habit and possessing methamphetamine. Khoang told the officer he would share his drugs with some people, he had customers he would sell to, and described his sources to purchase methamphetamine from. The interview was not recorded, and Khoang did not sign a written waiver of his Miranda rights.[1] Khoang was handcuffed at the time of the interview, leaning against the car he had been seated in. Khoang was charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver, as a second-offender, in violation of Iowa Code section 124.401(1) (2016).

         Khoang filed several pro se motions to suppress, claiming the search was illegal because the search occurred prior to the court's approval and the warrant lacked probable cause, Khoang was not read his Miranda rights and did not knowingly and voluntarily waive his Miranda rights, and the warrant was not returned to the issuing magistrate. Counsel later filed a supporting motion and arguments.

         On August 17, 2017, the court held a hearing on Khoang's three motions to suppress. The court rejected all three. The court ruled the warrant was valid, based on appropriate grounds, and properly issued prior to the search. The court noted no precedent required returning a warrant to the specific issuing judge nor required suppression for returning the warrant to a different judge in the same jurisdiction.[2] As to the Miranda questions, the court found more credible the officer's testimony Khoang had been advised of his Miranda rights prior to his statements and Khoang spoke voluntarily with the officer. The court specifically noted a recording of the interview is not a requirement for the State to show the statements are voluntary.

         In September 2017, a jury convicted Khoang. He now appeals the denial of his pretrial motions to suppress his statements made to law enforcement and ...


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