FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) - A district judge has ruled a man's statements to police hours after a May 29 killing will be excluded from trial because police officers violated the man's constitutional right to remain silent.
Chief District Judge John Dean found this week that Donovan King's right to remain silent was violated "because the defendant's invocation of his right was not scrupulously honored and the custodial interrogation was not terminated."
The Farmington Daily Times (http://bit.ly/uXIwwQ ) reports the 22-year-old King is one of two defendants accused of bludgeoning 40-year-old Kevin Lossiah to death in Lossiah's apartment.
King and Justin Mark, 23, both face first-degree felony open counts of murder, which carry a sentence of up to life in prison.
King and Mark told police they initially conceived a plan to beat and rob Lossiah, but the beating with a stick and a rock stuffed into a sock resulted in the man's death.
Both men face first-degree felony open counts of murder, which carry a sentence of up to life in prison.
The allegations of Miranda violations, in which police are required to warn potential suspects they do not have to speak and have a right to an attorney, were raised in an Oct. 21 motion to suppress filed by King's attorney, Cosme Ripol.
King claims he was manipulated by police to sign a waiver of his rights and that he was too intoxicated at the time.
He claims he invoked his right when he told police that he did "not want to talk at the moment" because he was intoxicated and under the influence of marijuana.
Miranda warnings instruct that if an individual indicates "in any manner that he does not wish to be interrogated, the police may not question him," according to the order.
The wish not to be interrogated must be "scrupulously honored," the judge stated.
The court ruled that King twice invoked his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.
"Even if the detective understood the defendant to mean that the defendant wished to talk, just at a later time, it is clear that the defendant did not wish to be interrogated at that time," Dean stated.
Dean also ruled that official coercion by police rendered King's signature on a waiver form involuntary, and King signed the waiver form unknowingly.
"Coercion was exerted when the detective suggested that evidence pointed to the defendant, but that the detective would not divulge the information unless the defendant signed the paper," Dean stated.
Tom Clark, the Santa Fe-based attorney for Mark, also intends to file a motion to suppress his client's confession to police.
"Based on the testimony of Mr. Mark at the preliminary hearing, it became really apparent that he had the stronger suppression issues," Clark said of the two cases.
He expects to file that motion next week.
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