A Florida judge has tossed out the confession of a man who admitted kidnapping, raping then murdering a 9-year old girl by burying her alive. The detectives who interviewed him erred by not getting him a lawyer when he asked for one. The judge did allow the discovery of the little girl's body to remain as evidence.
…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.
"Such a police misconduct is not a mere technicality. A technicality is signing an order in the wrong color ink," Circuit Judge Ric Howard said in issuing the ruling Friday. "This is a material and a profound violation of one of the most bedrock principles of criminal law."
Howard agreed with prosecutors, however, that investigators would have found Jessica's body anyway.
Jessica (Lunsford) had been missing for a month when she was found in March 2005 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 (the accused's)* yard. Two days earlier, (the accused) told detectives he had kidnapped, raped and killed the girl, who lived 150 yards from him, and he told them where to find the body.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for (the accused), who has pleaded not guilty to charges of premeditated murder, burglary, kidnapping and sexual battery. Jury selection for his trial is expected to start July 10.
Prosecutor Ric Ridgway said he wouldn't appeal the decision, but defended the deputies.
"If they'd have gotten him a lawyer and he'd never have talked, and she turned out to have been alive somewhere and wasn't found in time because of that, they would've been vilified here too. They were in a no-win situation," he said.
Lewan had also asked the discovery of Jessica's body be inadmissible in court because (the accused) told authorities where to find her.
The prosecutor believes there is sufficient evidence to get a conviction even without the confession. I understand why the judge felt he had to throw out the confession, I am very glad he saw the discovery of the body as inevitable.
* My policy is not to mention the names of people who rape and kill children. Their names should be expunged from history.