Pretrial in sexual assault case is Friday
The pretrial conference for a man accused of committing third degree sexual abuse in the jail will occur tomorrow. Rudolph Edwards, 42, Country Club Hills Ill., is charged with committing that crime in the Washington County Jail on July 16, 2011.
The conference is scheduled for 9:15 a.m. Friday. The pretrial conference is a time when the prosecution and defense identify all motions which require a ruling before the trial, which in this case is slated to begin Tuesday, Jan. 15.
One of the motions the court will rule on is whether an interrogation of Edwards given by Washington County Investigator Chad Ellis can be used. The interrogation occurred three days after the alleged incident.
Defense attorney Jeffrey Powell motioned to suppress the interrogation and any recording of it because he believed it violated his client’s Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights. Washington County Attorney Larry Brock, the prosecutor, has resisted Powell’s motion to suppress the interrogation.
The alleged victim in the case is Martin Medrano-Vargas, who is currently being held at the Washington County Jail as a material witness. Medrano is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico. He has sought a U Visa, which would allow him to stay in the United States for four years as a legal resident provided he cooperates with law enforcement in the criminal investigation.
Medrano has not yet obtained the visa. Nicole Cooper-Merrill, his civil attorney, said in a phone interview this morning that she is still hopeful her client can receive it, although they may not know the answer for several months.
Merrill said that the result of Edwards’s trial has no bearing on whether Medrano can obtain a U Visa. She said that alleged perpetrators do not need to be convicted, not do they even need to go to trial, in order for an undocumented immigrant to receive a U Visa. As long as the immigrant reports the crime to law enforcement and cooperates with the investigation, he can obtain a U Visa.
The Department of Homeland Security is the governmental body that will decide whether Medrano receives a U Visa.
In order for Medrano to obtain a U Visa, he first needed an I-918B form, which states the crime he suffered and that he was cooperating with the prosecution. Washington County Sheriff Jerry Dunbar and Brock refused to sign an I-918B form for Medrano. However, Merrill was able to find another certifying agency who would sign the form. Merrill did not disclose which certifying agency filled out the Form I-918B for Medrano.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Web site indicates that certifying agencies can include federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, judges, family protective services, prosecutors’ offices, and several other investigative agencies.