The confession of a 29-year-old transient accused of murder may be used in his trial, a Douglas County district judge ruled today.
Judge Michael Malone said the defendant, Kenneth Lee Morris, freely confessed to striking a Lawrence man who later died from blows to the head. Morris was being interviewed by two Lawrence police officers in Phoenix when he told them of striking 40-year-old Danny Davis with a golf club.
"This court finds from the evidence that there was no threat or intimidation of Mr. Morris," Malone said.
The ruling will allow Morris' confession to be used in his trial, which begins Monday.
Morris is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the Aug. 8 beating death of Davis. Davis died five days after the beating.
Morris was interviewed by Lawrence police on Aug. 17 in Phoenix, where he was being held on unrelated burglary charges.
During the interview, Morris confessed to striking Davis several times, Lawrence police testified at a hearing last week.
Morris' attorney, James Rumsey, was seeking to have the confession suppressed, claiming the two Lawrence police officers coerced Morris into making the confession. Rumsey also claims his client's rights were violated because an attorney was not present during the interview.
He would not comment immediately after Malone's ruling today.
Douglas County Dist. Atty. Jerry Wells said he was pleased with Malone's decision.
Wells would not comment when asked if Rumsey could appeal Malone's decision before Morris' trial begins, but said, "I intend to go forward with the case on Monday, and presumably he'll be there."
In today's ruling, Malone said Morris understood his Miranda rights when they were read to him by Lawrence police officers before the Phoenix interview.
Malone said Morris agreed to talk with the two police officers, Detective Craig Shanks and Sgt. Carrol Crossfield, and never indicated that he wanted to see a lawyer during the five-hour interview with police.