Appeal from the 351st District Court Harris County, Texas
Trial Court Case No. 1296569
consists of Justices Higley, Bland, and Brown.
Carter Higley Justice.
State charged Appellant, Milton Rolando Paz, with capital
murder.Appellant pleaded not guilty. The jury
found him guilty, and an automatic life sentence was
assessed. In three issues on appeal, Appellant argues (1) the
trial court abused its discretion by denying his motion to
suppress; (2) he suffered egregious harm when the trial court
failed to sua sponte include a jury instruction on
voluntariness; and (3) the trial court abused its discretion
by admitting certain autopsy photographs.
reverse and remand.
February 2011, Appellant was the father to two young
children, a thirteen-month-old girl and a one-month-old girl.
During that month, Appellant's wife had to leave town for
work. A friend agreed to care for the infant while the wife
was away. The wife's work trip got extended. The friend
caring for the infant had to return her to Appellant because
the friend also had to go out of town. The infant was in good
health when returned to Appellant's care other than an
upset stomach. Appellant was bothered that he had to care for
his infant daughter.
the friend returned, she drove by Appellant's house to
see if Appellant's wife had returned. She saw several men
drinking on Appellant's patio but did not see Appellant
or his wife.
next day, Appellant called his wife. He told her the infant
was dead, describing her as cold and purple. The wife told
him to call 911. Appellant called 911, and an ambulance
arrived. The infant was taken to the hospital but could not
infant had bite marks on her cheeks and extensive bruising
across her body, both internal and external. Each of her
limbs were fractured. Four ribs were fractured. She had
multiple, severe fractures on her skull with hemorrhaging
around her skull, brain, and optic nerves. A medical examiner
later testified that the skull fractures and hemorrhaging
played the primary role in the infant's death.
O. Chandler and Sergeant R. Figueroa first encountered
Appellant at the hospital when the medical staff was
attempting to revive his daughter. They spoke with Appellant
for about 30 minutes, when Appellant agreed to go with them
to his apartment. Appellant allowed them to search his
apartment. Afterwards, Appellant agreed to go with the
officers to the police station. Lieutenant Chandler drove him
to the police station. While there, police photographed
Appellant. The officers then took Appellant to a holding
next day, Lieutenant Chandler and Sergeant Figueroa removed
Appellant from the holding facility, and a patrol officer
transported him back to the police station. They transferred
Appellant to Officer R. Montoya and watched the interaction
in another room.
spoke with Officer Montoya and agreed to provide a voluntary
statement. Their conversation was recorded. Near the
beginning of the four-hour conversation, Appellant told
Officer Montoya that Sergeant Figueroa had called him a
"fucking ho." Then the following exchange occurred:
[Appellant]: And then later I was handcuffed for no reason.
And then the guy came at me like this (demonstrating}, you
know, as if he wanted to hit me.
[Appellant]: Thi -- this dude that was [there] right now . .
[Appellant]: And then he says to me, "Do you want
trouble with me? Do you want trouble?" And he got in my
face. So I said "No" to him. Then I was handcuffed
and put in the can, in jail.
Montoya followed this up by asking Appellant if he knew why
he was being investigated. Appellant acknowledged that it was
because he was the only one with the girls at the time of his
infant daughter's death. Officer Montoya then asked
Appellant if he wanted to voluntarily discuss what happened
with him. Appellant said yes and discussed another way in
which he had cooperated with the investigators to aid the
the conversation, Officer Montoya described the process of
taking a polygraph test. Officer Montoya talked about people
trying and failing to lie and cheat during the test.
[Montoya]: What- what is the investigator going to say if I
say, "Look, so-and-so came to cheat and to do tricks on
the- on the test."
[Montoya]: The investigator, he or she is going to imagine
the worst, right?
[Appellant]: They will beat him up.
[Montoya]: No, because we already know that people come to
cheat and trick or fraud-
[Montoya]: . . . because they're only lying.
[Appellant]: I'm think they- because over there they tell
me they wanted to beat me up for not wanting to talk. Can you
imagine if someone throws me in there and I get beat up . . .
three hours into the conversation, Appellant took a polygraph
test. As Officer Montoya began the test, Appellant told him,
"You're really good people. I have more trust in
seeing you than . . . . I'm saying that you're the
only trustworthy person that I've seen for a while.
That's why I trust you."
Montoya had some difficulty getting Appellant to follow the
instructions for the polygraph test. The following exchange
[Montoya]: I'm going to tell you something and I'm
going to say it really sincerely. And ta- don't take it
as me scolding you, but take it the right way.
[Montoya]: If the investigat- investigators see this video
right now. . . it's enough. It's enough evidence for
them to see that you are not co-operating.
[Appellant]: No, I'm just-
[Montoya]: I just need to go out right now and make the call
and tell them, he's not co-operating. . .
[Montoya]: . . . and you already know what they're going
to do with you.
[Appellant]: I apologize.
[Montoya]: No-no-no. You keep telling me the same thing:
"Forgive me. I'm sorry."
After a short break, Appellant continued to argue that he had
not hurt his infant daughter.
[Appellant]: That's what I did and --
[Montoya]: You want --
[Appellant]: . . . I remember all of that well.
[Montoya]: Okay. Okay.
[Appellant]: I got up, I laid her down --
[Montoya]: Okay, Milton. You want me to go out right now and
give them --
[Appellant]: How are you going to tell me that I hit her --
[Montoya]: Wait. Let me talk. Milton.
[Appellant]: . . . if I didn't hit her. Understand me.
[Montoya]: Milton, calm down. Calm down. We're men.
[Appellant]: Yes, but I didn't (unintelligible}.
[Montoya]: We're men. Calm down, Milton. Let me talk.
Listen to me. It's very important that I want you to
listen to me. It's very important, listen to me. Look,
Milton. I go out there right now, and I tell these
investigators that you . . . don't care. You don't
want to explain anything. Do you ...