After turning 18 years old days earlier, Brian Paul Landry broke into his teenage girlfriend's Santa Ana home while wearing a mask in Sept. 2008, fired three shots into the skull of the girl's mother as she prepared food in the kitchen, shoved a knife deep into the woman's neck and then sent a text message to the slain woman's daughter.
"It's done," the message read.
Following a 2010 trial, Orange County homicide prosecutor Larry Yellin won a murder conviction and two years later Superior Court Judge Patrick Donahue sentenced Landry, a Tustin resident, to prison.
But the defendant appealed his case, claiming Santa Ana Police Department detectives tricked him into talking about the crime--specifically, that his girlfriend repeatedly stated she wanted her mother killed--without giving him an appropriate Miranda warning.
It was true that veteran detectives Dean Fulcher and Frank Fajardo, two officers with a long list of notable accomplishments, got Landry to voluntarily sit for an interview inside the police department and didn't issue the warning in advance.
As the meeting progressed, Fulcher gave the suspect the Miranda warning that he could remain silent and seek the presence of a lawyer.
Landry acknowledged the warning and eventually confessed to the brutal killing of Darlene Saddler.
He claims the confession should have been excluded from evidence as tainted because the warning was tardy.
A three-justice panel at the California Court of Appeal based in Santa Ana considered Landry's argument and in an opinion issued late last month noted concern about police tactics designed to circumvent the impact of Miranda warnings.
But the panel--justices Raymond J. Ikola, Richard M. Aronson and David A. Thompson--ultimately concluded that the detectives hadn't forced the confession and, thus, didn't violate Landry's constitutional rights.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
(Substantial DNA evidence collected at the bloody crime scene linked to the defendant.)
Upshot: Landry, now 23, will continue to serve his 25 years to life punishment inside Calipatria State Prison.