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Confession

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NEWS
March 2, 1988 | By KURT HEINE, Daily News Staff Writer
The jury in the upcoming Harrison "Marty" Graham murder trial can hear the multiple-slaying suspect confessing to the strangling of seven women whose rotting corpses were found in his North Philadelphia den of death, a Common Pleas judge ruled today. Judge Robert A. Latrone said all of the prosecution's evidence, including Graham's confession, will be allowed at the trial. It was a defeat for the defense, which had sought to bar all of the police evidence. "For what condolence it might have for the defense, the question of the admissibility of the (Graham confession)
NEWS
June 4, 1986 | By Aaron Epstein, Inquirer Washington Bureau
The confession of an accomplice who cannot be cross-examined generally cannot be used to help convict a co-defendant, the Supreme Court declared yesterday in a 5-4 decision. The ruling reaffirmed - and possibly strengthened - a criminal defendant's constitutional right of confrontation. That right forces witnesses against the accused to submit to cross-examination, which the high court has called "the greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of truth. " In the case decided yesterday, Millie R. Lee and her boyfriend, Edwin Thomas, were tried jointly before a judge for the 1982 double murder of her aunt and her aunt's friend in East St. Louis, Ill. Neither of them testified.
NEWS
March 18, 1997 | by Ron Avery, Daily News Staff Writer
Just because a jury rejects the validity of a confession, that's no reason to toss it into the trash. Yesterday, the same confession to the murder of jogger Kimberly Ernest that jurors rejected by acquitting Richard Wise, and his co-defendant, last Friday was used against Wise in court in an unrelated case. The prosecutor's tactic infuriated Wise's lawyer, Jack McMahon. "I never saw anything so lame," he said. Wise and co-defendant Herbert Haak were acquitted of the Ernest slaying in about three hours by a jury that apparently considered the confessions insufficient evidence.
NEWS
December 22, 1990 | By Erin Kennedy, Special to The Inquirer
Catherine Wells knew what she was doing when she confessed in August that she helped kill a man in his Worcester Township home eight years ago, a Montgomery County judge ruled yesterday. Montgomery County Court Judge Anita B. Brody yesterday denied a motion to suppress Wells' taped confession that she and a friend stabbed and suffocated Andre Lars Paschedag in 1982. Defense attorney Michael Cassidy had argued that Wells was under unusual stress when she confessed the killing to police on Aug. 1. Cassidy said Wells had had only two hours of sleep the night before the confession, had not eaten all day and had smoked marijuana and taken caffeine pills before she talked to police.
NEWS
June 3, 1986 | By KIT KONOLIGE, Daily News Staff Writer
So-called jailhouse witness Clark Greene testified yesterday that Wilfredo Santiago never confessed the murder of police officer Thomas Trench to him, contrary to the prosecution's claims in the arrest warrant. Under questioning by detectives last July 17, according to the prosecution, Greene claimed that while in the Detention Center Santiago had admitted killing Trench, who was found dead of two bullet wounds in his patrol car on 17th Street above Spring Garden at 3 a.m. on May 28, 1985.
NEWS
March 6, 1997 | by Ron Avery, Daily News Staff Writer
The jury listened intently as a homicide detective read a detailed confession he took from Richard Wise admitting the brutal beating and sexual assault of jogger Kimberly Ernest. The detective then maintained a stoic calm as Wise's fiery lawyer, Jack McMahon, sought to prove that the investigator had made up key parts of the confession. The confession came on Nov. 29, 1995, three weeks after Ernest's death, and just hours after co-defendant Herbert Haak, 26, signed a statement admitting a role in the murder but pointing to Wise as the actual killer.
NEWS
January 19, 1993 | by Dave Racher, Daily News Staff Writer
It seemed like the cops did everything right. Six-and-a-half hours after his arrest in a murder case, Ernest Goldsmith, 47, confessed to stabbing to death Michael Jones, 31, in the hallway of their Frankford apartment building on April 20, 1991. He had given a statement denying the crime, but finally agreed to confess. Before taking the second statement, cautious homicide cops asked Goldsmith if he would agree to waive his right to an arraignment within six hours of his arrest.
NEWS
April 22, 1988 | By Connie O'Kane, Special to The Inquirer
In a taped confession played for a Burlington County Superior Court jury yesterday, Thomas F. Forsythe said he shot a delicatessen manager twice in the face by mistake. "I didn't want to shoot her," Forsythe said. "I had the hammer back. I thought what I would do was just scare her if it came to that. " Forsythe, 26, of Hamilton Township, who is being tried for attempted murder, aggravated assault, robbery, burglary and other charges, said he only intended to grab the woman's pocketbook and flee after she arrived to open Bordentown's Glenbrook Delicatessen around 6 a.m. last April 28. Forsythe said that, when he came out from behind a partition in the back room, he thought the manager, Lucy B. Murray, 52, of Chesterfield Township, was in the front of the store.
NEWS
October 20, 1997 | by Dave Racher, Daily News Staff Writer
It hurt him to do it, the judge said, but he had to throw out the confession of an accused triple killer. The cops had violated the rights of Lamont Daniels, 24, by questioning him too long before advising him of his constitutional rights under the Miranda decision, said Common Pleas Judge Robert A. Latrone. The district attorney's office will be forced to drop all charges against Daniels. It had no other evidence to link him to the slayings of two young men and a 17-year-old girl on May 26, 1995.
NEWS
April 8, 1993 | By Larry King, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Less than two hours after a Norristown police officer was shot to death, Walter H.G. Baker sat with a pair of detectives and confessed to the crime. Both detectives later said they were struck by Baker's demeanor. "It amazed me how calm he was under the circumstances," Lt. Timothy Woodward, a Montgomery County homicide investigator, testified in court yesterday. With that same placid exterior, Baker yesterday told a Montgomery County Court judge that his confession had been coerced.
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NEWS
May 13, 2015 | BY MORGAN ZALOT, Daily News Staff Writer zalotm@phillynews.com, 215-854-5928
JASON SMITH choked up as he recounted his last moments as a free man, the moments before police stormed his family's Levittown home and arrested him for a grisly Southwest Center City murder of a doctor that he says he did not commit. Testifying in his own defense yesterday, Smith, 39, said he and his fiancee were in a bedroom putting their daughter, now 6, to sleep on the night of Jan. 23, 2013, when he heard banging at the door and police burst into the house and shot Tyson, the family's boxer, before handcuffing Smith.
NEWS
May 13, 2015 | By Joseph A. Slobodzian, Inquirer Staff Writer
Bucks County exterminator Jason Smith took the witness stand in his defense Monday, denying that he strangled pediatrician Melissa Ketunuti and set her body on fire, and telling a Philadelphia jury that he confessed only after hours of badgering and being roughed up by a homicide detective. Defense attorney J. Michael Farrell opened his questioning of the 39-year-old Levittown man with the simple question: "Did you kill Dr. Ketunuti?" Smith's response was equally terse: "No, I did not. " Smith's testimony before a Common Pleas Court jury of six women and six men was essentially what he told police when arrested: "She was alive when I left her. " Whether Smith's story holds up - including that Homicide Detective Ohmarr P. Jenkins grabbed him by the shirt and slammed him several times against the wall during their five-hour interrogation - will become clearer Tuesday when he undergoes questioning from Assistant District Attorneys Jennifer Selber and Peter Lim. After court Monday, Lim said Jenkins and the lead detective, Edward Tolliver, have denied using physical force during the questioning.
NEWS
May 11, 2015 | By Mike Newall, Inquirer Columnist
They call themselves a family - one formed by the shared love of a friend. Melissa Ketunuti had lived far from her own family. So before she was killed in her adopted hometown, she had collected another one - with many branches. There's her college family. The ones who first encountered Ketunuti's passion for life and learning when she came from her native Thailand in 1995 to study neuroscience at Amherst College. The friends who celebrated each of her many successes, from her graduation from the Stanford School of Medicine to her surgery residency at Georgetown University Hospital to the prestigious scholarships that sent her to Botswana to do AIDS research.
NEWS
May 10, 2015 | By Joseph A. Slobodzian, Inquirer Staff Writer
Philadelphia prosecutors will formally close their case Monday in the murder trial of a Bucks County exterminator charged with strangling pediatrician Melissa Ketunuti and setting her body on fire. Assistant District Attorneys Jennifer Selber and Peter Lim called their final witness Friday, police Homicide Detective Edward Tolliver, who testified about the five-page confession he obtained from Jason Smith on Jan. 24, 2013. Tolliver was aggressively questioned for almost 90 minutes by defense attorney J. Michael Farrell, who challenged him for questioning Smith for five hours before formally reading Smith his constitutional right to remain silent and have a lawyer, and taking Smith's confession.
NEWS
May 8, 2015 | By Joseph A. Slobodzian, Inquirer Staff Writer
To prosecutors, he is an exterminator who extinguished the life of an independent woman who dedicated her life to caring for ill children, and then set her body on fire to cover up the crime. To his attorney, he is a victim of circumstance, a laborer targeted by detectives because he was the last person to see 35-year-old Melissa Ketunuti alive, worn down during more than five hours of interrogation into confessing to a crime he did not commit. On Wednesday, a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court jury of six men and six women began hearing what will be several days of evidence before deciding which portrait of Jason Smith to believe.
NEWS
January 22, 2015 | By Ronnie Polaneczky, Daily News Columnist
"LET ME get this stuff out of the way," says Don Tollefson, moving a briefcase, files and papers from his car's front passenger seat to the back one, which is already jammed with a big cooler, law books and various bags. "I want to drive you around my neighborhood. This is my world now. " I do not fear the watchful young men who coolly assess us outside Tollefson's digs on Monday. He lives on a rundown North Philly block where the drug trade operates, 24/7. I am more nervous about Tollefson's 1997 Honda Civic.
NEWS
January 5, 2015 | By Laura McCrystal, Inquirer Staff Writer
Two months after Eric Frein's arrest, a central question remains unclear: Did he confess? If so, to what? Frein, who eluded state police and federal agents for weeks in the Poconos, acknowledged to detectives on the night of his October arrest that he shot two state troopers, according to an affidavit filed in his case. But Frein's attorney said he still hasn't determined whether the statements were legally obtained and recorded, and if they amount to a confession. Some answers could come Monday, when Frein is due to return to the Pike County courthouse for the first time since his arrest.
NEWS
December 11, 2014 | By Joseph A. Slobodzian, Inquirer Staff Writer
Maurice Gibbs said he was playing cards with friends outside a Bartram Village apartment on Aug. 20, 2012, when a childhood friend, Rafael Jones, walked up. Gibbs said the only thing more surprising than seeing a friend he had not seen in almost seven years was what Jones said after drawing him aside: that he had killed a police officer. "Did you see or hear anything about a cop killing on the news?" Gibbs said Jones asked him. "I said, 'No, I don't watch TV,' " Gibbs said.
NEWS
October 8, 2014 | By Allison Steele, Inquirer Staff Writer
The King of Prussia man on trial in the 2012 murders of a baby and grandmother told a Montgomery County jury Monday that he confessed to the killings because the police had threatened him and his wife. Raghunandan Yandamuri, 28, a former information technology worker on trial in Norristown, told jurors he was home having lunch with his wife at the time the slayings took place elsewhere in his apartment complex. But his wife told police he wasn't there, he said, because she was afraid to place him so close to the crime scene.
NEWS
October 3, 2014 | By Allison Steele, Inquirer Staff Writer
The Montgomery County detective who secured a confession from a King of Prussia man in the 2012 slayings of a baby and a grandmother faced hours of questioning Wednesday from the accused killer, who has said police pressured him to admit his guilt. Raghunandan Yandamuri, 28, is representing himself in his capital murder trial in Montgomery County Court. Toward the end of a 17-hour interview with detectives in October 2012, Yandamuri signed off on a written and videotaped confession that he has recanted.
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