Madison County

Statement to police should be suppressed because of Miranda warning error, lawyer says

Daniel Keene, co-defendant in a Richmond murder case, appeared Thursday in Madison Circuit Court.
Daniel Keene, co-defendant in a Richmond murder case, appeared Thursday in Madison Circuit Court. gkocher1@herald-leader.com

RICHMOND The defense for a man charged in the 2010 deaths of a Richmond couple says statements he made to police should be suppressed because he was denied his right to a lawyer, he was not re-read his Miranda rights at the police station, and there was an implied threat of execution.

Madison Circuit Judge Jean Chenault Logue did not rule on these issues Thursday in the case of Daniel Keene but gave the defense and prosecution time to submit written arguments. If Keene’s statement is suppressed and ruled inadmissible, a jury would not hear it at trial and any evidence that stemmed from that interview could not be introduced at trial.

Keene, 29, is charged with kidnapping and murder in the deaths of Charles DeMarcus “Chew” Walker and his girlfriend, Sonsaray “Sonsi” Warford, both 30. They were reported missing in 2010 but their bodies were not found until 2012 buried in a field near Richmond.

Keene was read his Miranda rights on March 26, 2012, as a search warrant was served on the Garden City Drive apartment where he lived with a roommate. Commonwealth’s Attorney David Smith played an audio recording Thursday of then-Detective William O’Donnell advising Keene of his rights.

However, defense attorney Bobby Amburgey argued that Keene’s rights were not read again after police transported him to the station and he was in custody. Amburgey said the recorded video statements Keene made to police at the station should be suppressed and not played at trial.

Smith cited a 2002 Kentucky Supreme Court ruling that said a defendant’s confession was not compromised by a failure to “re-advise” him of his rights following a 65-minute delay. Keene was read his rights about 30 minutes before he was taken to the station, Smith argued.

Amburgey also argued that Keene’s rights were violated when he requested a lawyer seven times during interrogation. Smith countered that the request for a lawyer “has to be unambiguous and unequivocal,” a standard that Smith argued was not met by Keene.

Finally, Amburgey argued that Detective Matt Boyle threatened the death penalty during his talk with Keene. At one point Boyle told Keene: “Listen to me. Don’t look at this as a life-ending experience, OK? ...We’re giving you the golden opportunity to make sure this isn’t a life-ending experience for you.”

Boyle testified Thursday he did not utter those words as a threat. “I wanted to try to keep him focused on the task at hand that day,” Boyle said. “I was trying to keep him focused.”

Boyle testified he was telling Keene that going to prison “doesn’t mean it’s over with.”

“The ‘life-ending experience’ was not a reference to capital punishment?” Amburgey asked.

“Not at all,” Boyle said.

As it stands now, Keene could face the death penalty if convicted. His trial is scheduled to start in April. Another defendant, Lebruce Ellington, is scheduled to go on trial Feb. 22.

A third defendant, Matthew Denholm, pleaded guilty in 2014 to two counts of murder in the Walker and Warford deaths. He was sentenced to life without parole for 25 years.

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