Lancaster police can't do actual real police work Jan 31, 2007 0:05:41 GMT -5
Post by KC on Jan 31, 2007 0:05:41 GMT -5
LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. - Jesse Dee Wise's defense attorney attempted to show that police questioned him for numerous hours about killing six members of his family without revealing why they were questioning him and without making sure he was aware and rested.
The statements came during the second day of a suppression hearing today during which Wise's attorney, John A. Kenneff, is seeking to limit what is used in Wise's trial.
Also during today's hearing, a state police trooper said that Wise was laughing and joking shortly after he confessed to killing his family at their Leola home in April.
Kenneff noted during his questioning that Wise initially believed he was in custody due to a bench warrant from Berks County. He also asked whether detectives tried to find out if Wise had any problems with reading, writing, his mental health or drug abuse when they read him his rights during questioning.
Kenneff also asked if Wise was rested and had been fed during his questioning.
"He's talking, he's describing his family," said East Lampeter Township Detective Joseph Edgell, adding, "He knew what was going on at the time."
Also during the hearing today, state police Trooper Linda Gerow talked about Wise's demeanor shortly after he confessed.
Gerow said she and another trooper went outside with Wise while he took a cigarette break. The other trooper's cell phone rang, and his wife was on the line.
He started talking about "his women were always calling him," Gerow said. "He started laughing and joking. He was light-hearted and jovial."
In cross-examination by Kenneff today, Edgell said police initially talked to Wise about what he had done in the days leading up to when police stopped his car, shortly after finding six bodies in the basement of his family's Leola home.
Then, about 45 minutes into questioning, police said to Wise that they needed his help in finding out "who did this." They then read him his Miranda rights.
Kenneff asked if police were sure Wise was aware and had a sound mind for questioning, particularly after Wise acknowledged he smoked marijuana and drank at times, and sometimes forgot things.
Edgell said he thought Wise said he forgot unimportant things, and that he thought Wise would remember killing six people.
Wise initially repeatedly denied having anything to do with the killings. He also asked to speak to his grandfather or someone he knew, but Edgell said he did not ask to speak to an attorney.
Kenneff also questioned why police took verbatim notes until partway through the interview, and why they did not have Wise "adopt" or acknowledge the confession part of his statement.
Edgell said it was a mistake not to have Wise go over the notes from his confession in the same way Wise had gone over notes in the earlier part of the interview.
Kenneff is arguing that Wise's statements to police should not be used because police did not read Wise his Miranda warning before he was interviewed, and because of other ways that police handled the questioning.
An officer admitted Monday that he forgot to read Wise the warning against self-incrimination when Wise was first brought into the East Lampeter Township Police station.
However, Assistant District Attorney Craig Stedman has said police read the warning after they realized he had not heard it, and then repeated it three other times during questioning.
Kenneff also is contending that police did not have probable cause to stop Wise's vehicle and detain him, shortly after police discovered the bodies.
Lancaster County Judge David L. Ashworth will decide what evidence can be used at Wise's trial, which has yet to be scheduled.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Wise.
Police charged Wise with killing his cousins, Skyler Wise, 19, and Chance Wise, 5; his uncle, Jesse James Wise, 17; two aunts, Wanda Wise, 45, and Agnes Arlene Wise, 43; and his grandmother, Emily Wise, 64, in the family home at 81 E. Main St. in Leola.
Prosecutors allege Wise beat, stabbed and strangled the victims on or about April 9 and then continued to live in the family home, using the victims' money and credit cards to shop, buy food and stay at a motel with his girlfriend.
During Monday's hearing, an officer said that Wise spoke to detectives for about seven hours before admitting to the murders. Wise was questioned for a total of 11 hours.
When Wise ultimately confessed to the killings, giving a 46-page statement, Edgell said, "He (Wise) spoke softly in a monotonous, even voice."
"There was no emotion. There were a few times when he laughed, but other than that ..."
The six bodies were discovered April 12 after a relative contacted police and asked them to check on the family.
Wise was at the house when police arrived but abruptly left when an officer started to search the house, the officer testified Monday.
When the officer found the bodies, he broadcast a description of Wise's vehicle and Wise was stopped a short time later.
When Edgell and state police Trooper Gerard Sauers first started interviewing Wise, they thought he had been read his Miranda warnings, according to testimony.
They read him his rights when they discovered they had not been read to him.
Before the confession, Wise had been vague with Edgell and Sauers about who killed his family members, saying things like, "I could've done it, but I don't think I did. I'm just trying to figure it out," according to testimony.
The confession came after midnight April 13, after Wise had finished smoking several cigarettes outside the police station and walked back into the interview room.
"I asked Mr. Wise, 'Did you remember anything?' " Edgell said. "It was a shot in the dark to see if he would give me anything."
"Yes, a lot" Wise told him, Edgell said.
Officers put a box of doughnuts in front of Wise and read him his Miranda warnings.
"(Wise) ate doughnuts while I went back over his rights," Edgell said. "The voice went soft, below a casual conversation, with him describing the murders. We asked things like, 'What happened then? What did they do?' "
Two days after the killings, police allege Wise planned to go to New York and kill his grandfather. His car, however, broke down west of Philadelphia.