A judge has thrown out most of the statements made to police by the suspect in the Essex shooting rampage. Tuesday's ruling means that many of Christopher Williams incriminating statements cannot be used as evidence when he goes to trial charged with two counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder, but prosecutors aren't worried because many other Williams statements were not thrown out.
Judge Geoffrey Crawford ruled that the jury will not hear that Christopher Williams admitted to police that he shot Linda Lambesis, his ex-girlfriend's mother.
They will also not hear that he told police he went mad after his girlfriend dumped him, and still loved her with all his heart.
The judge has tossed those statements because police delayed giving Williams the Miranda warning that he could remain silent during much of the questioning after his initial arrest.
But the judge has also ruled that many other Williams statements including, "I can't believe I just killed two people" and "after what I did they are going to want the death penalty," will not be suppressed. There was no need for Miranda because Williams had just been arrested and police feared he was about to die from a self-inflicted head wound, so they needed answers to protect the public.
"There's a United States Supreme Court ruling which recognizes when the police fear a suspect may be dying, when the police fear there may be other victims that are hurt and giving Miranda might make the defendants stop talking, that it's OK to continue to question them if you're doing it in the public safety to make sure nobody else is hurt," explained Cheryl Hanna of the Vermont Law School.
Several other Williams statements will also be permitted because Williams made them voluntarily.
"Those statements which he made spontaneously while he was in custody to an officer who was not there questioning him but was just there as a security guard essentially watching over him," said Hanna.
"Well the state's case is still very strong. Quite a large number of statements, as I mentioned, will still come in and if the defendant chooses to testify at trial most of the statements that are excluded at this point would probably be allowed in terms of countering any testimony he might give that does not comport with statements he gave police that day," said Chittenden Deputy Prosecutor Justin Jiron.
Williams has indicated he will use an insanity defense. But there are no experts to testify on his behalf, and that means he will have to testify himself. If he does take the stand, then all statements-- as the prosecutor indicated-- even those the judge suppressed-- will go before the jury.
It's highly unlikely Williams' defense plan will delay the trial. The trial is scheduled to start with a jury draw July 7.
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