SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) -- Newly released video evidence in the criminal case against a teenager – charged in a so-called "Bonnie and Clyde" style crime spree – is raising questions about the legality of her interrogation by San Diego Police.
San Diego Superior Court Judge Leo Valentine, Jr. unsealed the video interrogation of Cindy Garcia, 18, at the request of News 8.
Garcia's defense attorney has questioned whether the teen voluntarily waived her right to an attorney during questioning, and whether she was coerced into speaking with officers.
The interrogation video begins with SDPD robbery detectives Dwayne Glazewsk and Chris Holt asking Garcia for personal background information. Then, Detective Glazewsk reads Garcia her Miranda rights:
Detective: You have the right to remain silent.
Detective: If you give up that right anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. Do you understand that right?
Detective: You have the right to speak with an attorney of your choice before questioning, and to have an attorney present during questioning if you so desire. The attorney will not cost anything. The services are free. Do you understand that right?
The interrogation took place on Halloween night of 2012 at San Diego Police headquarters, just hours after Garcia's 40-year-old husband, Philip Hernandez, died in a shootout with police while Garcia was inside his van. Garcia was not injured and surrendered after the shooting.
Under the law, detectives not only have to read Garcia her rights; she also has to agree to speak with the officers without an attorney present. That's where the detectives had trouble getting Garcia to go along:
Detective: Are you willing to talk to us about these events?
Garcia: Neither of you are lawyers?
Garcia: You guys are detectives?
At first, the teenager seemed confused during the questioning.
Detective: Do you know why you're year, honey?
Detective: Not at all?
Garcia: Oh, you mean in this office? Yeah, this is an interview.
The teen is accused of being an accomplice to robbery, carjacking, and the attempted murder of five officers because she allegedly participated in some of the crimes, as was present during Philip Hernandez's shootout with police.
Detective: Is he your boyfriend?
Garcia: He's my husband.
Detective: He's your husband? You're married?
Garcia: Yeah, we got married in Lake Tahoe.
During the crime spree, Garcia's husband allegedly shot and nearly killed a man in Hillcrest, and also wounded an off-duty police officer in Escondido. Initially, Garcia did not know that her husband had been killed in the shootout.
Detective: Your husband died tonight. Did you understand that?
Garcia: They shot him in the head, didn't they?
Detective: And he ended up dying, okay?
Then, Garcia breaks down in tears and starts rambling.
Garcia: He told me they were not going to take him alive. There was something going on with him and the government. Not me.
Detective: Are you willing to talk to us about all that?
Garcia: It's just that.
Detective: …'cause we need to know that.
Detective: Honey, are you willing to talk to us about all that and what he's saying about all this?
Garcia: He doesn't have my back. He's dead.
After the officers asked Garcia at least four times if she was willing to cooperate, the teen finally relented and agreed to speak with the detectives.
Detective: Are you willing to talk about what he's been through?
Detective: Okay, because we need to understand that, too.
Garcia: The government wanted to kill him and they got him…
Garcia: He used the San Diego Police Department for this…
Detective: He did?
Garcia: He used all of you guys.
Detective: He did?
Garcia: Yeah... And now no one's going to have my back. I'm going to speak and speak and speak and talk and maybe go crazy in this cell and you guys are going to let me.
Garcia told the detectives she met Hernandez at a National City park when she was age 16. They married when she was age 17 and the crime spree began days after Garcia turned 18.
Prior to meeting Hernandez, at the age of 14, Garcia reportedly was kidnapped and taken into Mexico where she allegedly entered into the sex trafficking trade. Violent and incoherent memories came back to her during the police interrogation.
Garcia: We went behind the scenes where we saw the kids being sold here in California.
Garcia: The judges are selling them. Why are you guys doing this?... In Mexico, when I was kidnapped they killed... They killed the man in front of me...
Garcia went on to speak with detectives for at least another hour on the videotape, according to court records, and gave detectives a timeline of the alleged crime spree, as well as details of her alleged role in the crimes.
However, that portion of the interrogation video still remains under seal by the court and has not been made public.
The deputy district attorney assigned to the case, James Koerber, wants to play the video for a jury during Garcia's criminal trial, currently set for October 2013.
"I believe (the detectives) did properly advise her of her rights and repeatedly asked her, was she willing to talk? She continued to talk and did talk about the events that occurred," Koerber said during Garcia's preliminary hearing in March.
"She did get emotional, but I don't believe her… freewill was overborne by these detectives," Koerber told the judge.
Garcia's public defender, Courtney Cutter, said the interrogation was illegal and should be thrown out of court.
"You can't ignore the fact that we're dealing with a girl who is not even 18 and one month at the time of this interview," Cutter told the court in March. "She's just turned 18. It's suggested to her by the circumstances… that she's going to be viewed as a victim not as a perpetrator."
"I don't think it's clear to an 18-year-old girl -- who has just been notified that her husband is shot and killed and is actually dead -- that she is waiving her right to have a lawyer present," Cutter argued in court.
The defense plans to file a motion to exclude the interrogation video from evidence during Garcia's trial.
At Garcia's preliminary hearing, Judge Valentine ruled that the teenager did make a knowing and voluntary waiver of her rights. However, the final ruling on whether the video interrogation is admissible will be made by the trial judge.
If convicted of all 15 felony counts – including conspiracy, carjacking, robbery, making a criminal threat, attempted murder of five police officers, and assault on five police officers – Garcia could be sentenced to a maximum of life in prison.