Apache Superior Court Judge Donna Grimsley dropped murder charges against an eastern Arizona man because, she says, the accused's rights were violated when he was interviewed by investigators without a lawyer.
Joseph Roberts is believed to have murdered 72-year-old William "Stoney" McCarragher in April of 2007. Authorities allege he also helped William Inmon murder and conceal the body of 60-year-old Daniel Achten two years later.
The case was turned over to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office after the Apache County Attorney's Office was booted off of it because the prosecutor handling Roberts' case discussed a plea deal with him before a preliminary hearing and without an attorney representing Roberts present.
You can listen to what went on during Roberts' interview with the prosecutor here.
"The court is of the view that the flagrant and manipulative subversion of the Sixth Amendment constitutional rights in this case trumps all other considerations and that dismissal is the only remedy that will preserve the defendant's inviolable constitutional right," Grimsley says in her order.
The case was dismissed with prejudice, which means it can't be refiled.
Jerry Cobb, spokesman for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office tells New Times his office can still appeal Judge Grimsley's decision.
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"We oppose this decision," Cobb says. "We share the concerns and frustrations the Apache County Attorney mentioned in his press release."
Apache County Attorney Michael Whiting's press release -- as well as an example of an instance where a prosecutor interviewed a defendant without a lawyer and the evidence was simply suppressed -- can be seen here.
"Like the rest of the county we are shocked and left wondering why a judge would do such a thing without referencing any legal authority to do so." County Attorney Michael Whiting said. "Judge Grimsley's decision to release the defendant, who was being held on first degree murder, has re-victimized the victims.""It is frustrating when a court cares more about a defendant's rights than victims' rights, this is a travesty of justice in the 1st degree," Whiting concluded.
Cobb says the MCAO is reviewing its options. He says prosecutors can appeal the decision, but are yet to decide whether to do so.