Suspect interview allowed in sex case

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— Statements made by a man shortly after his arrest on suspicion of unlawful sexual contact will be allowed in court, a district judge ruled Friday.

The 30-year-old Clark man is accused of breaking into a Steamboat Springs office in February, taking off his clothes and fondling a female employee. The woman was able to break free of the man and call police.

The man faces charges of unlawful sexual contact, burglary, false imprisonment, criminal mischief and violation of a protection order.

The suspect appeared in Routt County District Court on Friday for a motions hearing, during which District Judge Michael O'Hara made several rulings about the man's upcoming trial.

The man's attorney, public defender Trevor McFee, filed a motion requesting that the man's interview with police be suppressed during trial because McFee didn't think his client was "awake, alert and oriented" when he waived his right to silence.

According to testimony given by Routt County Sheriff's Office deputies and Steamboat Springs police officers, the man drove from the scene of the incident to the Sheriff's Office, where officers found him crying and repeatedly saying, "I did something bad."

Police Officer Gerald Geis read the man his Miranda rights and asked him whether he wanted to answer any questions, according to testimony.

The man allegedly agreed to speak with Geis and acknowledged knowing his rights and waiving his right to having an attorney present.

After hearing from Geis on Friday, O'Hara ruled in favor of allowing the testimony from the interview with police. O'Hara said he didn't think the man had asked to end the conversation with Geis or request an attorney.

In another motion, McFee requested that the District Attorney's Office provide notes or transcripts of any conversations conducted with the alle--ged victim. Assistant District Attorney Kerry St. James told O'Hara there weren't any such documents and that even if there were, St. James didn't want to go down the "slippery slope" of "opening this door and letting the defense come in and look at whatever file they wanted."

McFee said that because the alleged victim in the case has refused to cooperate with his investigators, he thinks he is entitled to the interviews as part of discovery for trial preparation.

O'Hara ruled in favor of the District Attorney's Office.

McFee also discussed his concerns about several taped phone messages the victim has given to the District Attorney's Office. O'Hara asked McFee and St. James to resolve the situation on their own before the man's next court appearance Nov. 17.

At one point, the motions hearing was interrupted by the overwhelming smell of gasoline. The courtroom was closed, and the hearing was relocated to a jury room, where O'Hara and other court employees set up a makeshift courtroom to finish the proceedings.

-- To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234 or e-mail adelacruz@steamboatpilot.com

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