Two brothers were shot and killed in their Houston home. The police found shotgun shells at the…

Two brothers were shot and killed in their Houston home. The police found shotgun shells at the scene of the crime. Witness testimony led the police to consider Genovevo Salinas to be a person of interest. Police found Salinas at his home, where he agreed to turn over his shotgun for ballistics testing and accompanied the officers to the police station for questioning. The interview with the police was custodial: It lasted approximately one hour, and Salinas was not read his Miranda rights. For most of the interview, Salinas answered the officers’s questions. However, when asked whether his shotgun would match the shells recovered at the scene of the murder, ­Salinas declined to answer and remained silent. The police let Salinas go. Eventually, after more evidence was obtained, the government brought murder charges against Salinas. At trial, over Salinas’s objection, the police witnesses testified that when Salinas was asked whether the shotgun shells found at the scene would match ­Salinas’s shotgun, he grew silent and refused to answer that question. The jury found Salinas guilty, and he ­received a 20twenty year sentence. Salinas appealed, alleging that the evidence that he remained silent when asked the question regarding his shotgun and the shells at the scene of crime should not have been admitted at trial. His appeal reached the U. S. Supreme Court.

Three Supreme Court justices upheld the verdict of guilty, finding that the admission of Salinas’s silence when asked about the shotgun shells did not violate his Fifth Amendment privilege not to testify against him because a defendant normally does not invoke the privilege by remaining silent during a noncustodial interview. Two other justices upheld the verdict of guilty but did so based on another reason, that the Fifth Amendment does not prohibit a prosecutor from commenting on a defendant’s silence during a precustodial interview. Four justices filed a dissenting opinion, finding that the evidence of the defendant’s silence at a precustodial interview should not be admitted into evidence. What kind of decision is this U. S. Supreme Court decision? Does this decision establish precedent? Salinas v. Texas, 133 S. Ct. 2174, 2012 U. S. Lexis 4697 (Supreme Court of the United States, 2012)


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