Jurors can hear statements made to police by a York City man accused of creeping into his neighbor's adjoining townhouse and stabbing her to death last summer, a judge has ruled.
Jovon D. Jones and his public defender, Jim Rader, appeared in York County Court July 5 asking Common Pleas Judge John S. Kennedy to rule Jones' police statements inadmissible at trial.
On Thursday, Kennedy denied the request.
Jones, 29, formerly of 881 Fahs St., is accused of the May 16, 2011, home-invasion slaying of 42-year-old Alesia Martin. He remains in county prison without bail, charged with first-degree murder, burglary and theft.
During last week's suppression hearing, Rader argued Jones' statements shouldn't be heard at trial
But York City Detective First Class Jeff Spence kept speaking with Jones for eight minutes before ending the interview, Rader told the judge, and argued it was "coercive."
No questions: Spence testified last week he didn't ask Jones any questions during those eight minutes -- that he was explaining to Jones what was going to happen next, including that Spence was going to confer with the county district attorney's office to see what charges to file against Jones.
But after sitting on a police bench for about 45 minutes, Jones told detectives he'd changed his mind and wanted to resume his interview, police said.
A videotaped recording shows Spence readvising Jones of his right to remain silent. On tape, Jones waives that right,
then tells detectives he has "blackouts" and might have killed Martin without remembering it.
Denied: On Thursday, Judge Kennedy ruled Spence did nothing improper and denied the suppression motion.
"We find that after a significant break in interaction with the police, it was the defendant that reinitiated the exchange with Detective Spence," Kennedy wrote in his opinion. "Detective Spence properly re-Mirandized the defendant, who waived his right and expressed his desire to make further statements to the police."
Rader said if Jones is convicted, the issue is now preserved for appeal.
Senior deputy prosecutor Amy Eyster did not express surprise at the ruling.
"Based on the case law and the fact that Jovon Jones did initiate the conversation, we felt very confident this would be the outcome," she said.
The background: Jones caught the attention of detectives after telling The York Dispatch and other media outlets he helped Martin's family members get into her home and find her body. Jones described the crime scene in great detail to reporters.
Martin's loved ones saw those media reports, knew Jones hadn't viewed the crime scene while they were with him and alerted detectives, documents state.
Jones eventually admitted he had a blackout but remembers being in Martin's room, and remembers her screaming and falling down, police allege.
While searching Jones' townhouse, investigators found the victim's cell phone hidden in Jones' bedroom closet, and also found high concentrations of suspected blood, including on a bucket and mop and on Jones' clothing, documents state.
-- Staff writer Liz Evans Scolforo can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.