Judge: Murder defendant’s hospital-bed statements may be admitted at trial
Court still weighing whether 3 defendants in Motel 6 homicide case will face jury together or separately
One of three defendants in the Sept. 2, 2017, homicide at Motel 6 was shot himself during the incident.
He went to the emergency room at the University of Kansas hospital in Kansas City, Kan., and — per protocol for walk-in gunshot victims — hospital staff notified police there.
Tyrone J. Carvin, 19, of Kansas City, Kan., went on to speak with both Kansas City and then Lawrence police multiple times while he was hospitalized, and those statements will be allowed in the criminal trial against him, a judge ruled Thursday.
Douglas County District Court Judge Sally Pokorny heard arguments to suppress those statements from Carvin’s appointed attorney Michael Clarke, and arguments to admit them from prosecutor Mark Simpson.
Pokorny ruled that Carvin’s statements were all voluntary and that evidence indicated he was of clear mind when giving them. Although his first two encounters with police officers were brief and took place before he was suspected of a crime, the second two — more lengthy discussions from his hospital bed later that day and additional conversations after he was in custody at the Wyandotte County jail — occurred after a warrant was issued for his arrest and officers properly advised him of his Miranda rights, the judge ruled.
Pokorny is now weighing another motion that could significantly change the path of the case: whether to keep the jury trial for Carvin and his two co-defendants joint, or whether to sever it into three separate trials, as defense attorneys have requested.
After hearing arguments for and against severing the case, she took the matter under advisement and scheduled a hearing to announce her decision on March 16.
Already pushed back once, a two-week joint jury trial for all three defendants is now currently is scheduled to begin May 29.
Gunfire erupted about 11:30 p.m. Sept. 2, 2017, among a group of nine men who’d been partying inside Room 308 of Motel 6, at 1130 N. Third St. in North Lawrence. The shooting killed 23-year-old Cameron Hooks of Lenexa and injured two others.
Charges and previous testimony allege that the three co-defendants and a fourth man — who hasn’t been publicly named or charged — suddenly got up from different locations in the room and committed the shootings while trying to rob other men they’d been hanging out with.
In addition to Carvin, the defendants are Ramone Singleton, 23, of Kansas City, Kan.; and Shawn K. Smith, 19, of Kansas City, Mo.
Each is charged with one count of murder, for allegedly killing Hooks in the commission of a dangerous felony, armed robbery; one count of aggravated battery; one count of aggravated assault; and one count of attempted aggravated robbery. They have pleaded not guilty and remain jailed on $1 million bond.
Around 1:15 a.m. Sept. 3 at the hospital, Carvin told the first Kansas City police officer he talked to that he’d been shot while walking in Kansas City by a person who yelled at him out of a car window, then shot him, that officer testified during Thursday’s hearing.
About two hours later, a Lawrence police detective arrived at the hospital to talk to another shooting victim he knew had been shot in Lawrence. The detective testified that Kansas City police told him Carvin had been shot in their city before he briefly talked to Carvin, too, didn’t suspect him of anything, and went back to Lawrence.
Over the course of the next day, as Lawrence police gathered more information about the incident, that changed.
A warrant for Carvin’s arrest on the murder charge was issued at 2:18 p.m. Sept. 3, the judge said.
The detective testified that he and other officers returned to the hospital around 5 p.m. and talked further to Carvin over the course of several hours. He said Carvin — after being read his rights — agreed to talk with police and described the scene in the hotel room, who was sitting where, and some of the people he’d been with.
The Motel 6 case is one of two murder cases with three defendants currently pending in Douglas County.
Attorneys in the other case — the Oct. 1, 2017, triple homicide on Massachusetts Street — have said they also plan to request their clients’ trials be severed. Pokorny is scheduled to consider those requests on March 27.
For now, a two-week joint jury trial in the Massachusetts Street murder case is scheduled to begin May 14.