Miranda Rights – key evidence in vehicular manslaughter suppressed.

I wish we could get a copy of Justice Clifford’s order. A person must be advised of their Miranda Rights if they are in custody and subject to interrogation. The articles fails to explain how Justice Clifford determine Lowe was in custody at one point of the interrogation but not prior to that point. I suspect her inability to leave might have something to do with it but I would like to actually read the decision.

 

 

Judge agrees to throw out teen driver’s texting and driving statements

Tony Reaves
Tony Reaves, Staff Writer
Oxford Hills |

Friday, December 14, 2012 at 4:21 pm

PARIS — A key piece of state’s evidence against a teen driver charged with manslaughter won’t be admissible in court.

OXFORD COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT

 

Kristina Lowe

 

In a decision filed this week, active retired Justice Robert W. Clifford partially granted a motion to suppress evidence that Kristina Lowe, 19, of West Paris, made to Maine State Police while she was in the hospital.

Lowe, who is charged with manslaughter in the deaths of Rebecca Mason, 16, of West Paris and Logan Dam, 19, of Norway, also faces two charges of operating under the influence, causing death, and one count of aggravated leaving the scene of an accident. In June, she pleaded not guilty to the charges.

According to police, Lowe and her friends were returning to an underage drinking party in West Paris when the crash occurred. Another passenger, Jacob Skaff of Paris, was also injured.

Early in the morning after the crash, Lowe was at Maine Medical Center in Portland for injuries sustained in that night when she spoke with a Maine State Police trooper. Lowe’s attorney, James Howaniec, said that Lowe had been administered opiate medications including morphine and Fentanyl and was in no question to speak with a state trooper.

Howaniec also argued that Lowe wasn’t read her Miranda rights, although she was told she could stop testifying at any time.

In Clifford’s decision, he marked a point in the interview where her testimony becomes inadmissible. Maine State Trooper Lauren Edstrom, who interviewed Lowe, did not read her Miranda rights, Clifford wrote, even when it became clear Lowe may have been the driver. Clifford disagreed that the medication made her unable to answer the questions.

Assistant District Attorney Joseph O’Connor confirmed Friday that the inadmissible portion includes Lowe’s statements that she was texting at the time of the accident. He said he has contacted the Attorney General’s office about the possibility of appealing Clifford’s decision.

Howaniec said Clifford made the right decision. “We’re pleased with the decision,” he said Friday.

“It really eliminates any evidence about texting,” Howaniec said. He said the Maine crime lab found no forensic evidence that Lowe was texting at the time of the crash, and attributes the crash to ice on the road.

The crash has inspired efforts against texting and driving in recent months, as awareness groups have been formed and Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School dedicated a day to drunk and distracted driving awareness.

treaves@sunjournal.com

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