Archive for Wednesday, January 12, 1994

JUDGE ALLOWS CONFESSION AS EVIDENCE

January 12, 1994

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A judge has cleared the way for the state to tell jurors about a reported confession from a teen-ager accused in a carjacking homicide.

In a ruling filed today in Douglas County District Court, Judge James W. Paddock denied a defense motion to suppress statements made by the teen, Abraham Orr, to Lawrence police.

Orr allegedly shot and killed Edward Lees, 29, Lawrence, on Sept. 18 near the entrance to Riverfront Park after Lees refused to give up the vehicle he was driving.

Orr's attorney, Randy McGrath, Lawrence, argued in his motion that police unlawfully obtained the statements from his client during a four-hour interview after the homicide.

A key point was that Orr, who was 17 when the crime was committed, asked twice during the interview to call his parents and was told by police to wait.

Paddock ruled that Orr's statements were "freely and voluntarily made" and therefore could be presented to jurors at his trial, scheduled to begin Feb. 2.

Regarding Orr's request to call his parents, Paddock wrote: "When a minor under the age of 18 years requests to call his parents, it would be a better police practice to permit the call."

However, Paddock wrote, "the majority of jurisdictions, including Kansas, hold that such a request ... does not constitute an assertion of a right against self-incrimination."

Paddock said that Orr, who fell asleep while waiting for detectives to interview him, "was no stranger to police practices as he had been adjudicated a juvenile offender" in the past.

Orr, one of four 17-year-old Topeka boys detained after the shooting, is charged with first-degree murder and attempted aggravated robbery. James Wadney and Courtney Crockett, who were detained along with Orr after the shooting, are awaiting formal hearings -- the juvenile versions of adult trials -- in connection with the slaying.

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