I’d Heard His Lawyers Were Going For This

…the other day and it looks like it’s stuck.

Confession in girl’s slaying thrown out
Judge does allow discovery of Florida 9-year-old as evidence
The confession of a man charged with kidnapping, raping and killing 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford isn’t admissible in court, but the discovery of her body can be used as evidence, a judge ruled Friday.
John Evander Couey, a 47-year-old convicted sex offender, gave the confession to detectives, but also told them that he wanted to consult a lawyer. He wasn’t given the opportunity to do so.

I cannot believe ~ CANNOT believe! ~ that the detectives made that egregious, that indefensible, an error in a case of such horrific magnitude. We’ve watched enough Law and Order to know how NOT letting a suspect chat with his Johnnie Cochran bites you in the a$$ EVERY time. WTF?! Why would they jeopardize the WHOLE thing? I can only think they were desperate to find her and decided that overrode procedure. Fortunately, the judge is allowing the body’s discovery to remain. And in case anyone doubts why this animal should rot in hell forever AFTER the state executes him…

Jessica was found kneeling and clutching a stuffed animal, hands tied with speaker wire and fingers poking through the garbage bags in which she was buried alive in February 2005. Two days earlier, Couey told detectives he had kidnapped, raped and killed the girl, and he told them where to find the body.

UPDATE: More from the AP wire.

A judge in Citrus County decided today that investigators compromised that evidence when they ignored Couey’s repeated requests to talk with an attorney.
He said no less than eight times in 46 seconds” that he wanted a lawyer, Circuit Ric Judge Howard said, adding detective Gary Atchison and former detective Scott Grace also failed to tell an FBI polygraph expert of Couey’s request.
Howard said there were two possibilities: “They forgot or … they didn’t want (the agent) to know.”
“The inescapible conclusion is they chose to ignore it,” he said. “Such police misconduct … is a professional violation of a bedrock of criminal law.”

5 Responses to “I’d Heard His Lawyers Were Going For This”

  1. Nightfly says:

    I have a serious question –
    From a legal standpoint, is there any compromise position that a judge could reach on something like this? It’s obvious, once the cops find the body where he remembered leaving it, that this guy’s confession was truthful. He’s guilty as hell. Must refusing his request for a lawyer always be equivalent to coerced confession? There may be very good reasons (even though in this case it hurts the prosecution), I’m just curious to hear what people think.
    Hopefully the rest of the evidence secures the conviction. And then the detectives need to go to jail too for being a couple of incompetent nitwits.

  2. My question, serious as well, is HOW did the judge separate the the body from the confession? Didn’t they find the body because of it? Are there now sincere grounds for appeal?
    And, oh yeah, the detectives…like they said about the Abu Graib bunch “the six idiots that lost the war”…

  3. Mike says:

    To answer nightfly’s question – no, there is no compromise the judge can make. The Supremes have consistently ruled that the police must stop any interrogation once a suspect has requested an attorney, and cannot resume any questioning at any time without the attorney being present. If I remember correctly, and it has been a long time since I looked, the basis is not that the confession is coerced or unreliable, but that it is obtained without the accussed being afforded the right to consult with an attorney – a right granted under the 6th amendment (right to competant counsel competent counsel). All that must be shown is that the confession (or statements) were made after the suspect requested an attorney and the attorney was not present.
    Of course, the constitution does not mandate that evidence obtained in violation of the 6th amendment (and 4th also) be excluded. However, the Supremes have found that a “right without a remedy” is no right at all. Therefore, they found that suppression of evidence is implied in the constitution because it is necessary to provide a remedy to denial of 4th and 6th amendment rights.
    There is a split among legal scholars whether suppression of evidence is the right remedy, and that the correct remedy would be to allow non-coerced evidence and evidence found in violation of the 6th (counsel) and 4th (illegal search) in, but impose some sort of sanction on the officers and organization that violated the constitutional rights of the suspect.
    To answer THS question – I have not read the opinion, but my guess is that the judge allowed the body in under the theory that the evidence would have been discovered even without the confession. This is the exception to the fruit of the “poison tree” rule that holds all evidence discovered as the result of information illegally obtained is not admissible. If the state can show that the evidence would have been inevetably discovered without the tainted information, then that evidence is admissible.
    Sorry for the long post.

  4. Sorry for the long post.
    Not at all! On the contrary, I was counting on you being sucked into our vortex. {8^P I anticipate DaveJ and KG will be along shortly, too. It’s lovely to have resident experts, Mike. We’re spoiled.

  5. Nightfly says:

    Mike, thanks a million. I don’t know anything, I was a journo major… =)

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