Oh, this is truly poetic justice!
You may recall the fascinating bond hearing that took place in Honorable Stan Strickland’s courtroom, in June of 2008. Of real interest to everyone was the testimony of Detective Yuri Mellich. He revealed so many shocking insights: the smell in the car being decomposition, the cadaver dogs hitting on the Anthony backyard, and on Casey’s white Pontiac, and more.
I remembered a particular line of questioning, however, from Jose Baez in which he asked a litany of questions with regards to Yuri’s questioning of Casey at her home and at Universal Studios. Now, the reason this set of questions is important is it directly deals with the motion filed by Cheney Mason asking that Casey’s statements to law enforcement be suppressed. Mr. Mason’s reasoning? Mason claims in the motion: There was no probable cause to “interrogate” Casey; she was in “custody” of the Detectives; she was handcuffed but not put under arrest; she was not read her Miranda Rights, and she was not advised of her Constitutional Rights, which refers to having counsel for a defense. Read Motion
In June of 2010, the Supreme Court made a new ruling with regard to Miranda Rights. In essence, the Supreme Court made the Miranda Ruling more beneficial for Law Enforcement than for individuals. The crux of the ruling is that a person who is talking to police, or under arrest, must make it absolutely clear they do not want to talk. Furthermore, it is incumbent on the suspect to stay SILENT, or their words can and will be used against them in a court of law.
The Supreme Court’s new ruling states that a suspect must make it perfectly clear they do not want to talk. If they do not, and they talk, the suspects statements can be used at trial.
This is a slippery slope for the individual as it does not offer the same protections against self incrimination. In the past, the suspect who is under arrest was read their rights (to remain silent, seek a lawyer). If a suspect says they want a lawyer, all questioning had to cease. But, if the suspect then began to talk, the police were to ask the suspect if they now want to “waive” their Miranda Rights (to stay silent) and talk. Now, with the recent Supreme Court decision, the police do not need to ask if the suspect if they want to waive their rights.
With regards to the defense motion to suppress, then, you will see why the Defense motion falls flat on its face. In fact, if there was any question about this motion, the State of Florida need only look back at the questions that Jose Baez asked of Detective Yuri Mellich during the bond hearing. This is not a verbatim transcript, but this is how the questioning goes:
Baez: Did Casey willingly answer your questions at her home when you asked her about the whereabouts of the child?
Baez: Did she ever ask to consult with an attorney before answering your questions?
Baez: Would you have waited to question her if she had asked for an attorney?
Mellich: She wasn’t a suspect at the time, why would I ask if she wanted an attorney?
Baez: If she had asked for an attorney, you would have stopped questioning her, correct?
Mellich: Yes. Of course.
Baez: When you took her out to look at the areas where Zenaida may have lived, at any point then, she could have said I want a lawyer, right?
Baez: But she didn’t.
Baez: Then you went to Sawgrass Apartments, did she ask for a lawyer?
(Baez then lists the additional places that Mellich took Casey that morning, and asks Mellich each time: She could have asked for a lawyer, but she didn’t, and Mellich responds. No.)
Mellich: I then took her home so I could do further investigation.
Baez: You dropped her back home. And she didn’t flee or try to run, did she?
Mellich: As far as I know, no she did not. I can’t attest to what she did after I dropped her off.
Baez: Was she there when you came back later in the day?
Baez: And with your contact with her at Universal Studios, she could have asked for a lawyer, right?
Baez: And she didn’t?
Baez: You then took her into a room to begin to question her further, and she could have invoked her right to a lawyer?
Baez: But she didn’t?
Baez: You then took her to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and she still didn’t invoke her right to counsel?
Baez: Did you interrogate her at the Sherrif’s office?
Baez: But you read her her rights?
Mellich: After I placed her under arrest, yes.
Baez: Did she ever to you invoke her right to counsel?
Baez: She never said “I’m not talking to you anymore?”
Here is the video where the above questions are asked: Baez and Mellich.
The reason these questions and answers are important? The Defense knows that Law Enforcement did everything by the book and there is no way that Casey’s statements to Police will be suppressed.
This is what I call justice.