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State v. Martinez

Court of Appeals of Texas, Thirteenth District, Corpus Christi-Edinburg

July 13, 2017

THE STATE OF TEXAS, Appellant,
v.
JUAN MARTINEZ, JR., Appellee.

         On appeal from the 156th District Court of Bee County, Texas.

          Before Chief Justice Valdez and Justices Longoria and Hinojosa

          OPINION

          LETICIA HINOJOSA Justice

         Appellee Juan Martinez Jr. was indicted for the offense of intoxication manslaughter, a second-degree felony. See Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 49.08 (West, Westlaw through Ch. 49 2017 R.S.). The State appeals the trial court's order granting Martinez's motion to suppress evidence obtained from the State's warrantless acquisition of Martinez's blood sample.[1] By one issue, the State argues "[t]he trial [c]ourt erred in granting [Martinez's] pre-trial Motion to Suppress" because its ruling is inconsistent with Texas Court of Criminal Appeals precedent, particularly State v. Huse, 491 S.W.3d 833 (Tex. Crim. App. 2016). We affirm.

         I. Background

         The following evidence was adduced at the suppression hearing. Martinez was transported by ambulance to a hospital following his involvement in a traffic accident in Beeville, Texas. A nurse drew Martinez's blood for medical purposes. Martinez subsequently told hospital staff that he did not want them to perform any testing of his blood, and he refused to provide a urine sample. Martinez then removed his I.V. and monitors and left the hospital.

         John Richard Quiroga, a Department of Public Safety (DPS) Trooper, went to the hospital to investigate the traffic accident. Officer Quiroga was unable to speak to Martinez who had left the hospital moments before his arrival, but he directed hospital staff to preserve Martinez's blood sample. The following day, Sergeant Daniel J. Keese served a grand jury subpoena on the hospital and obtained four vials of Martinez's blood and his medical records. Sergeant Keese forwarded two of the vials to a DPS crime laboratory for testing.[2]

          The trial court granted Martinez's motion to suppress the results of the State's blood analysis and entered written findings of fact and conclusions of law. The trial court concluded in pertinent part that:

1. [T]he seizure of [Martinez's] blood from the Hospital and subsequent search of that blood by the DPS lab constitute a search and seizure within the scope of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
2. The initial seizure of [Martinez's] blood from the Hospital by the State using a Grand Jury Subpoena was a valid seizure. However,
3. The search of the blood was performed without the necessary search warrant. The blood had been drawn and was no longer subject to mutation or metabolization. Further, the blood was in the possession of the DPS and was not subject to destruction. There were no exigent circumstances to justify a search of the blood without a warrant.
4. The search of the blood and the subsequent blood test results are found to be inadmissible at this time.

(Emphasis in original). This interlocutory appeal followed.

         II. ...


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