Pretrial hearing on Bartie 'confession’ and funding for DNA expert

KPLC 7News at Six- Oct. 1, 2018 - VOD - clipped version

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The battle continues between defense attorneys and the district attorney’s office over Dennis Bartie’s statement about the killing of Rose Born in 1998.

The state wants to use it, but the defense argues none of it can be used because it was a coerced and false statement.

What happens may depend on a clarification from the Third Circuit Court of Appeal.

Earlier, the Third Circuit ruled Bartie’s seven-hour confession cannot be used past the point when he invoked his Miranda rights, that is, when Bartie said he didn’t want to talk anymore. To prosecutors, that means the first 48 minutes can be used.

“The first hour or so of the defendant’s statement, he denies knowing the victim, he denies ever having gone into her place of business. So, it’s going to be interesting for a jury to hear that information and then hear that his DNA might be under the victim’s fingernails,” Calcasieu Assistant D.A. Hugo Holland said.

Holland said the rest should be allowed for other purposes, such as if Bartie takes the witness stand in his own defense.

“We’re not going to let a defendant confess to police and then have that confession ruled inadmissible because of Miranda, and then have the defendant get on a stand in front of a jury and lie about what happened. In other words. If the defendant gets on the stand and testifies, the jury will be able to hear the entirety of the statement he gave,” Holland said.

However, Defense Attorney Adam Johnson argued the jury should see none of it because it was a coerced and false confession.

Another issue is should public funds be allowed for a DNA expert for the defense. There was a closed-door hearing that lasted nearly an hour, for the defense to discuss the financing arrangement with Bartie. That part of the hearing was closed because the discussion, apparently, falls under attorney client privilege.

Still, Holland doesn’t see how someone who can afford Johnson and defense attorney Todd Clemons should be able to get any public dollars for any expert.

“I find it hard to believe that a criminal defendant who can afford one of the highest paid criminal defense lawyers in southwest Louisiana is indigent and thus entitled to public funds for an expert witness," Holland said.

The judge wants more information before ruling on the question of funding for a DNA expert for the defense.

Johnson declined to appear on camera and Bartie's another attorney, Todd Clemons, was not available.

Bartie’s trial is set for Apr. 22.

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