Judge: Lexington murder defendant did not make clear request for lawyer

gkocher1@herald-leader.comJanuary 18, 2013 

Murder defendant Sidney Lane Williams Jr. did not make clear requests for a lawyer during an interrogation, so any statements he made to police will be heard at his Jan. 28 trial, a judge ruled Friday.

Fayette Circuit Judge Thomas Clark also overruled another defense motion that sought to have the case dismissed because Williams allegedly acted in self-defense when he shot Victor Martin, 39, in August 2010.

Williams, 38, is also charged with tampering with physical evidence and abuse of a corpse.

Lexington police say that after Martin was shot and killed in Williams' kitchen on Alabama Avenue, Williams then dumped the body near a driveway on Russell Cave Road and set the body on fire.

Public defender Chris Tracy sought to suppress the statements and confession Williams made to police under the argument that Williams had communicated to detectives that he wanted a lawyer. An interrogation is supposed to stop when a defendant invokes his right to an attorney, but Tracy argued that the police questioning continued.

At one point in the taped interrogation played in court, Williams tells a detective, "Being in my shoes, I would have to get me a lawyer."

During that same interrogation, Williams tells a detective, "I'm trying to be honest with you. I'm not calling no lawyer or nothing."

Tracy argued that a detective's negative response further discouraged Williams from seeking a lawyer.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Todd Bradbury said the "mere mention of a lawyer is not enough to invoke the right to an attorney."

Clark dismissed the suppression motion, saying Williams "did not appear to have any inability to comprehend and communicate with the detective."

In another motion, Tracy said the case should be dismissed because of the Kentucky law sometimes known as the "castle doctrine." Under that law, police may not arrest the person for using force "unless it determines that there is probable cause that the force that was used was unlawful."

Det. Franz Wolff testified that Williams suspected that his Alabama Avenue house had been burglarized by Martin. To confront Martin, Williams invited Martin to the house under the guise of doing a landscaping job. When Martin got to the house, Williams confronted Martin with suspicions about the prior burglary.

Williams told police that Martin pulled a gun, a fight ensued and the two struggled over a gun that was fired multiple times. Police never found the gun.

Tracy argued that police did not present enough evidence before trial to establish probable cause that the use of force was illegal.

Bradbury said police had information from Williams' live-in girlfriend that he suspected Martin of a burglary, and that Williams "lured" Martin to the house for a confrontation.

Judge Clark agreed, saying there was probable cause that "the force was not legally justified."

Greg Kocher: (859) 231-3305.Twitter: @HLpublicsafety

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