« Ind. Gov't. - "Voters must step in on ethics rules – where lawmakers refuse to act" | Main | Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues 1 today (and 11 NFP) »

Friday, June 20, 2014

Ind. Courts - LaPorte prosecutor listens in to defendant's conversation with attorney; police claim 5th amendment

Kelley Smith has a long, detailed story today in the LaPorte Argus-Herald. Under the subheading "What happened?" the story reports:

On March 14, 20-year-old Taylor showed up at MCPD at about 7:30 a.m. He was covered in blood, but refused to cooperate with police questioning.

Detectives interviewed his family and friends and those of his live-in girlfriend, 24-year-old Simone Nicole Bush. This reportedly led them to Bush's grandparents' residence in the 600 block of County Line Road, where Bush was discovered in her bedroom dead of a gunshot wound through the neck.

Taylor was arrested at the police station at 3:20 p.m. that afternoon, and engaged in a private conversation with defense attorney David Payne inside an interview room there at 4:12 p.m.

Several police officers and Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Robert Neary were in a nearby room to monitor the conversation via video. However, the audio feed also was enabled, causing them to overhear Taylor disclose the location of a .40-caliber Glock model 22, the alleged murder weapon. Detectives then located the weapon and took it into custody.

Neary admitted the incident to the defense team and the court, and reported himself to the Indiana Disciplinary Commission.

Then at the advice of Indiana Fraternal Order of Police attorney John Kautzman, all Michigan City officers who gave depositions to defense attorneys invoked their Fifth Amendment right to silence when asked what information was overheard from Taylor and Payne's conversation, who heard it and how that information may have affected the investigation.

The story continues:
The parties' positions

The state - represented in this case by Bethany Beckman and Patricia Bishop - maintains the improper overhear was accidental. However, they agree that the gun and any other firearm-related evidence cannot be used against Taylor during his jury trial.

The defense - represented in this case by Craig Braje, Elizabeth Flynn and David Payne - contends Neary and the police were intentionally eavesdropping, and that any and all evidence obtained after 4:12 p.m. March 14 should be inadmissible. They also claim the police's assertion of the Fifth Amendment is a direct violation of Taylor's Sixth Amendment right to confront his accusers and allow his counsel to craft a defense against them.

The judge [Kathleen Lang of La Porte County Superior Court No. 1] sides with the state in that much of the evidence obtained after 4:12 p.m. March 14 was done so as a matter of standard procedure and still may be used in the case against Taylor. However, she agrees with the defense that the police's Fifth Amendment rights are in direct conflict with the defendant's Sixth Amendment rights.

So Lang issued an order Tuesday barring all witnesses who already have invoked the Fifth Amendment from testifying during Taylor's jury trial.

The state claims the order severely limits their case against the defendant, and has filed the interlocutory appeal with an appellate court.

Why Taylor was released

Any incarcerated person who requests a fast and speedy trial is entitled to be tried within 70 days of making that request. Taylor's request for a fast and speedy trial was filed April 10, making Thursday the 70th day.

Because he had not been brought to trial by that point, the state had to release him from custody to allow the murder charge to remain pending against him.

Had he remained in custody past Thursday, the murder charge would have had to have been discharged, and the state would not have been able to prosecute Taylor for Bush's death later.

From the start of the story:
Judge Kathleen Lang of La Porte County Superior Court No. 1 certified on Thursday the state's interlocutory appeal, a request that an appellate court consider whether to uphold or overturn Lang's ruling that the witness testimonies of several Michigan City Police detectives involved in the murder investigation are inadmissible in court.

Because no Indiana case law currently exists mirroring the circumstances of Taylor's murder case, the outcome of this matter could be precedent-setting.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on June 20, 2014 08:47 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts