Interrogation will not be allowed in jail rape trial
A judge has barred an interrogation from the court record in the case of a man charged with committing sexual assault in the Washington County Jail.
Rudolph Edwards, 42, Country Club Hills, Ill., was interrogated on July 19, 2011, three days after the alleged incident. His defense attorney, Jeffrey Powell, asked Judge Myron Gookin to suppress the interrogation because he believed the interrogator, Washington County investigator Chad Ellis, violated Edwards’s rights.
Powell wrote in his motion that Edwards told Ellis he did not wish to be interviewed and that he wished to return to his cell, but that Ellis continued asking Edwards questions.
Powell wrote that this violated Edwards’s privilege against self-incrimination and that the interrogation was not admissible in court. He argued that the statements Edwards made during the interrogation were involuntary and did not satisfy due process.
Judge Gookin granted the defense’s motion to suppress the interrogation and any recordings made of it after hearing arguments on the motion in a pre-trial conference Friday.
Washington County Attorney Larry Brock initially resisted the defense’s motion to suppress the interrogation. Court records indicate that Judge Gookin granted the defense’s motion Friday with no objection from the prosecution.
The prosecution and defense agreed to keep to the original trial date of Jan. 15. Jury selection will begin that morning at 9:30 a.m. The trial is expected to last three days. There will only be one alternate juror in the case. Some court cases have two alternates.
Judge Gookin closed the “discovery” in the case. Discovery is the phase in the pre-trial period when the two sides can request information from each other or from third parties. Judge Gookin allowed the two sides to continue to obtain witness depositions until this Friday. That is also the deadline for all pre-trial motions.
The Washington County Sheriff’s Department has been responsible for transporting Edwards to and from the courthouse from the Anamosa State Penitentiary. Edwards is currently serving a five-year sentence there for committing willful injury.
Edwards was transported to the courthouse for his depositions on Dec. 28 and Dec. 31 as well as for Friday’s pre-trial conference. He will be transported again next week for the trial itself.
The alleged victim in the case is Martin Medrano-Vargas. He is currently being held in the Washington County Jail as a material witness. Medrano, whose native language is Spanish, has been provided with an interpreter. The interpreter is Franklin Ruiz of Fairfield.
Medrano is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico. He is attempting to obtain a U Visa in order to remain in the country as a legal resident for five years. A U Visa allows an undocumented immigrant to remain in the country if he has been the victim of a crime and he is cooperating with police in the investigation.
Medrano’s civil attorney, Nicole Cooper-Merrill, said in an interview last week that the outcome of Edwards’s trial does not affect Medrano’s U Visa application. She said Edwards does not need to be convicted in order for Medrano to obtain his U Visa.
As of late October, Medrano had been held at the Hardin County Jail in Eldora in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). On Oct. 26, Brock requested Medrano’s transfer to the Washington County Jail because he was needed as a material witness in the case against Edwards.
Once Medrano is no longer needed in Edwards’s trial, he will be returned to the Hardin County Jail where ICE will resume custody of him.
Medrano was to have a deportation hearing on Nov. 5 but that was canceled and no new deportation hearing date has been set.
At the time of the alleged sexual assault in the Washington County Jail in 2011, Medrano was being held at the jail on a charge of identity theft.