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Statement Given By Juvenile To Police May Be Suppressed In Dark Web Drug Purchase Case

A trial is set for April 19th in Summit County’s Juvenile Court for a Park City High School girl charged with ordering drugs from overseas on the Dark Web.

In the meantime, a Juvenile Court Judge still has to decide about a motion from the Defense, to suppress statements that the girl made shortly after her arrest last summer.

Judge Elizabeth Knight heard opposing arguments on the issue at a hearing in Salt Lake Friday.

The 17-year-old girl is facing four counts of drug distribution.

In court Friday, her attorney Mary Corporon argued that the court should quash statements the girl made during her initial interview with officers. Corporon contended the officers were coercive and evaded or brushed off her attempts to invoke her Miranda rights.

The defendant was detained and arrested at the Kimball Junction McDonald’s last summer.

Corporon said that the officers were large, strong men, and her client was petite, alone and a juvenile. She claimed that two officers, in plain clothes, without identifying themselves, grabbed her inside the McDonald’s and escorted the scared and distraught teenager out into the parking lot. She said they showed their badges later. One arresting officer, Corporon said, even apologized.

She said the girl was handcuffed, and “literally up against the wall.”

The attorney said they presented the girl’s Miranda rights to her in written form, not verbally.

The officers in earlier hearings testified that the defendant didn’t ask for an attorney or for her parents. But Corporon said the videotape of the interview showed the girl, sobbing and hysterical, made some statements that couldn’t be understood.

Corporon said that her client is seen on the tape saying she wants to go home and adding “I’m not sure what’s good for me.” The attorney said given that, it appears the girl was trying to invoke her rights, but officers talked over her and changed the subject to focus on the procedural steps they had to go through.

She said the officers were obligated to get a clear statement that she was voluntarily waiving her rights. The girl ultimately signed a waiver form.

In response, Deputy Prosecutor Patricia Cassell said the recording shows that the girl did not ask for an attorney. She said the Judge has to go by what is on the record, not what it seems or appears that the defendant wanted to do.

Cassell said for any defendant, an arrest and an interrogation is an emotional time. But she said the 17-year-old was old enough to understand her Miranda rights. And Cassell said the officers were talking over her in an effort to calm her down and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Judge Knight said she will have render a decision by next Friday.

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covered Summit County meetings and issues for 35 years on KPCW. He now heads the Friday Film Review team.
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