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 Understanding the Roles of the Police, Courts and Corrections in the Case of State v. Patino

Assignment 1: LASA 2: Understanding the Roles of the Police, Courts and Corrections in the Case of State v. Patino

This case study summary is based upon an actual murder case. Be sure to consider the following aspects of the case:

  • The initial viewing of the cell phone text message and search of the apartment
  • The probable cause used to obtain search warrants
  • The confession of the suspect
  • The ruling of the lower court regarding evidence
  • The ruling of the State Supreme Court regarding evidence
  • The role of the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the case
  • The reasoning of the jury in their decision
  • The ethical issues related to the gathering of evidence and the confession
  • The role of the Department of Corrections in determining the length of sentences


  • Read the scenario carefully.
  • In a 4- to 6-page Microsoft Word document (plus a title and references page), address the topics below:
    • Identify a criminological theory associated with the behavior of the defendant in this case and explain the primary cause of this crime.
    • Identify and explain the legal reasoning of the lower court in approving the defense counsel’s motion to suppress the cell phone evidence and confession of the defendant.
    • Identify and explain the ruling of the Rhode Island Supreme Court in approving the appeal of the prosecuting attorney to allow the cell phone evidence and confession of defendant at trial.
    • Summarize the law enforcement code of ethics and explain whether the conduct of the officer related to searches and seizures was ethical in this case.
    • Describe the primary difference between the elements of first and second-degree murder and explain why the jury acquitted the defendant of first-degree murder, but convicted him of second-degree murder.
  • Include a title page with your name, date, and assignment title.
  • Provide at least three APA style references (one may be your textbook) Make sure all your in-text citations relate to a reference in your References page.  
  • You may use the Internet to research articles related to this case. Do not cite Wikipedia as a reference. Read the grading rubric before starting your paper to ensure you cover all the material appropriately.
  • Proofread for correct spelling, grammar, punctuation, mechanics, and usage.

Submission Details:


Case of State v. Patino

On October 4, 2009, Trisha Oliver went to the bedroom of her six-year-old son, Marco Nieves, and found that he was unresponsive and not breathing. She immediately called 911. Nearby units from the fire and police departments were dispatched to the apartment, along with an ambulance. Marco was transported to the hospital and the police interviewed Marco’s mother, Trisha Oliver, to gather information regarding Marco’s condition.

Trisha escorted Sergeant Kite through the apartment where he observed soiled bedding in Marco’s bedroom and dark colored vomit in the toilet. Also present in the apartment were another child and Trisha’s boyfriend, Michael Patino. Another officer transported Trisha to the hospital to be with her son. As Sgt. Kite was standing in the kitchen, he observed a cell phone buzzing on the counter. Thinking it might be Marco’s father or someone calling about Marco’s condition, the sergeant pushed buttons on the cell phone and observed a text message that contained potential evidence of a crime. Up to this point in time, Sgt. Kite believed he had responded to assist with a medical emergency, but after reading the text message, he believed that the child may have been the victim of a crime and the apartment may be a crime scene. He summoned a forensic team and he sent officers to get search warrants for the apartment and for the cell phone and other cell phones found in the apartment.

Once a responsible party arrived to care for the second child, Sgt. Kite invited the boyfriend, Michael Patino to the police station for an interview. Patino voluntarily went to the station. A cell phone in his possession that was owned by Trisha Oliver was seized at the police station.

It was determined that the cell phones belonged to Trisha Oliver. She subsequently gave written consent to search her cell phone and search warrants were obtained to search the apartment and all of the cell phones belonging to Oliver. Incriminating evidence was found on the cell phones that indicated Marco Nieves had been physically abused and injured by Michael Patino. At the police station, Patino was arrested, advised of his rights and he eventually admitted to striking the boy in the ribs and giving the victim a “body shot”. Patino stated that “Marco was acting stupid and I hit him”.

Six-year-old Marco Nieves died of his injuries at 6:00 P.M. on the same day he was transported to the hospital. He had sustained ruptured intestines from blunt forced trauma.

The prosecuting attorney charged Michael Patino with first-degree murder. After being arraigned and pleading not guilty, lengthy pre-trial hearings were conducted regarding the evidence that was used as probable cause in the case. Defense attorneys filed motions to suppress the cell phone evidence and the confession of Patino as “fruit of the poisonous tree”. They argued that Sgt. Kite’s initial viewing of Trisha Oliver’s cell phone messages without a search warrant constituted an unlawful search and seizure. They argued that all evidence, including the confession, obtained after the unlawful search was also unlawfully obtained and should be inadmissible as evidence. The Superior Court judge who heard the motions agreed


with the defense attorneys and ruled that the initial cell phone messages and all subsequent evidence in the case was inadmissible. She agreed that the initial cell phone evidence was obtained without probable cause or a search warrant and the defendant, Patino, has a reasonable expectation of privacy under the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.

The prosecuting attorney appealed the ruling of the Superior Court to the Rhode Island Supreme Court arguing that the evidence was lawfully obtained. The Supreme Court thoroughly reviewed the arguments and relevant court decisions. The Supreme Court reversed the rulings of the lower court and remanded the case back to the Superior Court for trial. The Supreme Court ruled that the cell phone belonged to Tricia Oliver and that Michael Patino had no legal expectation of privacy regarding messages on Oliver’s phones. The court ruled that once the text messages were transmitted and subsequently received on Oliver’s phones, that Patino had no control over the messages and no right to privacy.

The Supreme Court ruled that the initial viewing of the cell phone messages did not constitute an unlawful search and seizure because the phone belonged to Trisha Oliver and Patino had no control or expectation of privacy. The Supreme Court ruled that the initial messages constituted probable cause and that the search warrants for the cell phones and apartment were valid. All subsequent evidence obtained, including the confession of the defendant was ruled admissible by the Rhode Island Supreme Court.

The defense attorney appealed the decision of the Rhode Island Supreme Court to the United States Supreme Court, but the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case. The ruling of the Rhode Island Supreme Court was, thereby, the final ruling on the evidence.

At the trial of Michael Patino, the jury acquitted him of the first-degree murder charge, but found him guilty of second-degree murder. The trial judge imposed the maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Patino was turned over to the Rhode Island Department of Corrections where he was incarcerated in a maximum-security prison. The rules of the Department of Corrections allow inmates sentenced to life in prison to be eligible for parole after serving 20 years of their sentences. Release on parole is subject to review of the behavior of the inmate and the totality of circumstances determined by a parole hearing board. Victims have the right to attend and present impact statements at parole hearings. Because the U.S. Supreme Court had previously refused to hear the case, there is no appeal available to Patino regarding the admissibility of the evidence.

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