Third Circuit reaffirms Bartie confession cannot be used

Updated: Oct. 1, 2019 at 5:44 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) -The Third Circuit Court of Appeal reaffirms Dennis Jerome Bartie’s confession resulted from police misconduct and therefore cannot be used by the state at trial.

To read the ruling HERE.

When someone admits a crime, the confession must be freely and voluntarily given. And the appeal court says that is not what happened when Lake Charles Police interrogated Bartie, who’s accused of murdering Born in her donut shop in 1998.

Defense attorney Todd Clemons says that illegal confession should be a big concern to the public.

“Our client repeatedly said he wanted to exercise his constitutional right to remain silent. So, the fact that they just ran roughshod over our client’s constitutional right, we find that to be very egregious,” said Clemons.

And the court calls the promise to take the death penalty off the table an “impermissible inducement” because Bartie was only 17 at the time of the killing. Because of his age, he would not be eligible for execution.

Defense attorney Adam Johnson says the claim that investigators used “strategic deception” is ridiculous.

"A strategic deception is when you split up defendants or people you believe are suspects in a crime. You tell one of them, ‘Hey, the other guy confessed, you might as well tell me everything.’ It is not for a situation to justify threatening someone with death," said Johnson.

Concerning the police misconduct, Calcasieu District Attorney John DeRosier says the police were trying to do their job.

“Police have a hard job to do especially in an old, cold-case homicide. And I know they pull out all the stops that they can to try and make justice happen,” said DeRosier.

And he says the state can go forward without the prohibited confession.

"We have enough evidence to convict this defendant of this crime without the confession. I can say that we do have DNA evidence. It's not solely based on the existence of DNA evidence. We have other evidence also,” said DeRosier.

So, the court says none of Bartie’s confession can be used and points out the part of Bartie’s statement before he asked for an attorney contains repeated denials that he knew of the crime.

To read the earlier Third Circuit ruling HERE.

The Bartie trial is set for this month, but it’s expected to be postponed.

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