Suppression hearing held in case of former Scott County deputy accused of stealing from evidence safe

gkocher1@herald-leader.comJune 11, 2014 

GEORGETOWN — A judge must decide whether a jury will hear testimony about statements given by a former Scott County sheriff's deputy accused of taking drugs and cash from an evidence safe.

During a three-hour suppression hearing Wednesday, testimony from witnesses centered on whether William Jeremy Day should have been warned of his rights before he answered questions from Kentucky State Police and later spoke with his supervisors.

Day, 38, was indicted in 2012 on six counts of theft of a controlled substance and one count of theft by unlawful taking. He is scheduled to go on trial July 21 in Scott Circuit Court.

Scott Circuit Judge Rob Johnson made no decision Wednesday on whether to suppress the statements, but gave defense attorney Jerry Wright and special prosecutor Andy Sims until Monday to submit written arguments.

Wright maintained that the jury should not hear anything about the statements because Day was not notified of his Miranda rights. Wright also cited a provision from a state law that says if a police officer is a suspect in any criminal investigation, "he shall be afforded the same constitutional due process rights that are accorded to any civilian, including, but not limited to, the right to remain silent and the right to counsel," and he shall be notified of those rights.

Sims argued that Day's statements were voluntary, were not coerced, and that the state law cited by Wright applies only to those cases in which a citizen's complaint is made against an officer — not to cases arising from an internal criminal investigation. Sims cited court decisions backing that argument.

Scott County Sheriff Tony Hampton testified that other deputies had made him aware in 2011 about irregularities surrounding the evidence safe where seized drugs and cash were kept.

Hampton asked Kentucky State Police to investigate. State police Detective Kevin Calhoun testified that Day initially denied taking anything, but later "admitted to taking several pills out of the safe."

Day said he took the pills to ease pain from a previous back injury, Calhoun testified. Sheriff Hampton testified that Day was not supposed to have the combination to the safe.

Recordings from a surveillance camera inside the sheriff's department showed Day moving the camera away from the safe, and later moving the camera back to its original position. Day admitted to Calhoun and state police Detective David "Buck" Brennan that each time he moved the camera, he took pills from the safe, Calhoun said.

Calhoun acknowledged that he didn't read Day his rights, nor did he arrest Day on the day he was confronted about the safe. Day was formally charged months later when a Scott County grand jury issued an indictment.

Calhoun said Day had also said that "he wasn't the only one" who had been taking evidence from the safe. But when pressed about that, Day would only say "I'm not a snitch. I'm not going to tell you."

Hampton and Capt. Jearl Porter testified that Day voluntarily spoke with them together after the interview with state police. "He just wanted to talk to us and say he was sorry and explain why what happened, happened," Porter testified.

Under direct examination, Wright asked Day: "And during that 10-minute time, did either Porter or the sheriff inform you of any particular rights you had, like the right to remain silent, the right to counsel?"

"No, sir," Day said.

Wright: "And just to be clear, while you were in that room with the two detectives ... did you feel free to leave?"

"No, sir," Day said.

Under cross-examination, Sims asked: "Was your person physically restrained in any way?"

"No," Day said.

Sims: "Did anybody tell you, 'You've got to stay here until we finish our questions?'"

Day: "No."

The Day case has had an untypical passage through the court system. Last year Judge Johnson rejected a proposed plea deal in which Day would have served no jail time. Johnson said at the time that pretrial diversion was too lenient a punishment.

The judge's decision stopped Day from entering a guilty plea in the case.

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

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