Incriminating Statement Made at Police Polygraph
Rod O’Farrell, the defense attorney for Steven A. Torres, recently filed a motion in the Saginaw County Circuit Court. They had hopes of having an incriminating statement Torres made to police suppressed during the upcoming trial. But Judge Darnell Jackson, having heard all of the testimony about this particular case, has chosen to deny the motion.
The statement in question was apparently made by Torres directly after he took a polygraph test in February. Apparently the issue stems from the fact that the Saginaw police detective who was present during the polygraph test, Matthew Gerow, understood that it was ok to proceed with the test even if Torres’ attorney wasn’t present at the time.
But according to O’Farrell, he had made it clear to the police that his client was only to take the test when he was present to mediate. As a result, because the test was taken without O’Farrell present, the motion claims that Torres’ rights were violated. On those grounds, any statements made at the time should be suppressed, as they are “fruit of the poisoned tree”.
But Judge Jackson disagrees. Having heard testimony from both O’Farrell and Gerow, who completely contradicted each other in court regarding the events that led up to the polygraph test, the Judge has decided that Torres’ rights were not violated. “This argument, while compelling, does not equate to a violation of defendant’s constitutional rights,” the judge explained in his written ruling.
In addition, the Judge pointed out that, regardless of what Torres’ attorney and the Saginaw police discussed regarding the test, Torres himself waived his right to counsel at the time. During a hearing last month, Valencia Jones, the Michigan State Police Lieutenant who conducted the polygraph, said that she had gone through each and every one of Torres’ rights before they began. Along with numerous others, Torres had waived counsel, and signed his initials beside that right on the paperwork.
According to the Judge, while he acknowledges that Torres has a learning disability, that doesn’t mean that he is ignorant of criminal justice procedure. After all, he does have some history with the law, which the Judge pointed out. As a result, the Judge believes that Torres “knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily” waived his right to counsel, and therefore cannot claim that his rights were violated in this instance.
Torres and his wife, Erica M. Jackson-Torres, are facing charges of first degree child abuse for the severe beating of a 2-year-old boy. The boy, a son of Torres’ cousin, was in the care of Torres and his wife for a few days in January. He was returned to his mother with bruising, fractured wrist bones, ligature marks on his neck, and possible cigarette burns.