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Judge Denies Request from Keokuk Murder Suspect

A southeast Iowa judge this week rejected a motion to suppress statements made by a Keokuk man accused of First Degree Murder. The ruling means that statements made by Adam McCain to investigators and to a family member can be introduced in his criminal trial next month.

McCain is accused of fatally stabbing CaLove Sackman in Keokuk on February 5, 2019. His trial is scheduled to begin October 15.

McCain’s attorneys argued that when McCain was first taken into custody by a Lee County Sheriff’s Deputy, their client invoked his Fifth Amendment protection. They said that covered all future statements McCain made to law enforcement.

Chief Judge Mary Ann Brown disagreed.

Brown saidin her 14-page ruling that when a suspect invokes the right to remain silent, law enforcement can resume questioning the suspect after a period of time as long as the suspect is again read their Miranda rights.

Brown said in this case, when investigators spoke with McCain at the Lee County Jail, roughly five hours after he was taken into custody, they read McCain his Miranda rights and he waived his right to remain silent.

“Special Agent [Joe] Lestina read the Defendant his Miranda warnings before initiating his interview with the Defendant. The Defendant in his testimony denied ever being advised of his Miranda warnings. The description of what occurred by Special Agent Lestina is much more consistent with the audio recording than what the Defendant described. As a result, the credible evidence is that Special Agent Lestina advised the Defendant of his Miranda rights and warnings and the Defendant consented to the interview. It would of course been more obvious if the audio recording included an audible response of the Defendant agreeing to the interview. But given the testimony of Special Agent Lestina, Detective [Stephen] Dray, and the manner in which the conversation proceeded on the recording supports a finding that the Defendant voluntarily agreed to continue with the interview.”

McCain also argued that he was under the influence of controlled substances at the time, which prevented him from knowingly or voluntarily waiving his right to remain silent.

Brown said there was nothing in body camera footage taken at the time McCain was taken into custody or in the audio recording of McCain speaking with investigators that would suggest he was under the influence of controlled substances.

“The recording of the law enforcement officer’s interview with the Defendant discloses the Defendant wanted to talk to officers. He had something to tell them. This also supports a finding that his waiver of his right to remain silent was knowingly and voluntarily made. Considering the totality of the circumstances of this factual scenario… this court finds that the Defendant’s initial request to remain silent was honored and that the second interview did not violate the Defendant’s rights pursuant to the 5th, 6th, and 14th Amendments to the Constitution of the United States of America and Article 1, Sections 9 and 10 of the Constitution of the State of Iowa.”

McCain allegedly admitted to investigators at the Lee County Jail that he killed Sackman, even providing a detailed account of what took place leading up to and after he stabbed her to death.

Court records state that McCain also admitted in a phone call to his uncle that he killed Sackman. McCain made the call in front of investigators, using one of their phones.

McCain’s attorneys argued that the conversation between their client and his uncle should be protected, similar to attorney-client privilege. Judge Brown said in her ruling there is no such protection for a non-attorney.

"In addition, the Code specifically makes provision that if a call is made it shall be made in the presence of the person having custody of the one arrested or restrained. As a result, the actions of the officers being present during the Defendant’s telephone call with his uncle in no way violated his rights pursuant to Iowa Code Section 804.20. Those statements will not be suppressed."

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.