CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (AP) — One of two former Virginia Tech students charged in the slaying of a seventh-grade girl is seeking to have statements she made to police thrown out.
Lawyers for Natalie Keepers argue in a motion filed this week that incriminating statements 19-year-old made while police searched for 13-year-old Nicole Lovell should be excluded, The Roanoke Times reported (http://bit.ly/2hBEeU7). The motion will be considered during hearings next month.
Keepers is charged with being an accessory to kidnapping and murder and with helping hide Lovell's body. David Eisenhauer, 19, is charged with first-degree murder, abduction and hiding Lovell's body. Their trials are scheduled in March. Both face up to life in prison.
Lovell was found dead in January, days after authorities say she sneaked out to rendezvous with the older teens.
If the judge agrees to discard Keepers' statements, jurors would not hear about Keepers' description of her link with Eisenhauer, or about her confession to helping hide Lovell's body. Defense attorney Kris Olin argues in the motion that any physical evidence found because of Keepers' statements should be removed too.
Olin contends that police violated Keepers' constitutional rights by questioning her for more than 15 hours before advising her that she could remain silent or speak to an attorney.
Police picked up Keepers on the morning of Jan. 30 and quizzed her at the Blacksburg Police Department, until she was charged after 2 a.m. the next day, according to the motion. Shortly after noon on Jan. 31, a detective read Keepers her Miranda rights and had her sign a statement that she had not wanted to talk to an attorney before being questioned, according to the motion.
Olin argues that Keepers was exhausted, hungry and intimidated and didn't understand the waiver of rights she signed.
The motion states that Olin arrived at the jail to talk to Keepers while she was traveling with investigators. Jail staff told Olin they didn't know where Keepers was, but alerted officers. The detective added a handwritten statement to the waiver form saying, "Consent to continue evidence search and meet with attorney later," according to the motion. Keepers also signed that statement.
Olin's motion to exclude Lovell's statements seemed like a standard defense tactic and that the prosecution would argue against it, County Commonwealth's Attorney Mary Pettitt said Thursday.
Information from: The Roanoke Times, http://www.roanoke.com