Third Circuit throws out confession in homicide case

Third Circuit throws out confession in homicide case
Dennis Jerome Bartie (Source: Calcasieu Correctional Center)

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The Third Circuit Court of Appeal has ruled in favor of Dennis Bartie--finding his confession cannot be used against him at trial because detectives did not honor his right to remain silent.

Bartie is accused of the second-degree murder of Rose Born in 1998.

Defense Attorney Todd Clemons says the law and ruling are clear.

"When someone exercises their rights to remain silent you must shut down the interview.  It doesn't say you pause for ten or fifteen seconds, you have to shut down, you have to terminate the interview.  They failed to do that and what I love about the ruling, they make it very clear, they said that this was police misconduct," said Clemons.

His co-counsel, Adam Johnson agrees.

"The Third Circuit found that this is the very type of police misconduct that was sought to be prohibited by Miranda, which is a case we're all familiar with.  Everybody knows about their Miranda warnings, their Miranda rights. The fact that they were so definitive I think sends a clear message to detectives in the future, law enforcement in the future, not to engage in the type of practices that were engaged in here," said Johnson.

However, Calcasieu District Attorney John DeRosier disagrees saying Bartie kept talking after saying he wanted to stop.  To truly invoke his right to remain silent, DeRosier says Bartie should have remained silent.

"When somebody says, 'I'm tired of talking, I don't want to talk anymore, and then they start talking again and they say, 'Look, I don't want to talk anymore.  Then they may initiate a conversation again.  It goes both ways. So, you got a very different set of rules that are difficult to apply when you invoke your right to remain silent and start talking again it complicates the issue," said DeRosier.

Another issue the defense raised was whether a confession was coerced because Bartie was told he could get the death penalty if he didn't cooperate.

"I think that he was afraid that the police were going to do exactly what they said they were going to do and that killed him if they did not cooperate with him," said Johnson.

However, DeRosier says police are permitted to use what the U.S. Supreme Court calls "strategic deception."

"Defendants don't generally walk in and tell you the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth from the outset. Very seldom does that ever happen," said DeRosier.

DeRosier says if they cannot use the confession there is other evidence.

DeRosier says they will appeal to the State Supreme Court. The DA's office says Bartie's trial date is August 20.

The appeal court ruling can be read below.

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