Attorneys for accused triple murderer Curtis Clinton are trying to suppress incriminating statements he made to police just before his arrest last September.
Prosecutors played the first half of his interview with Sandusky police Detective Gary Wichman in Erie County Common Pleas Court Tuesday morning, stopping the tape after about an hour, when Clinton’s attorneys say he asked for a lawyer and should have no longer been questioned.
Click here for photo gallery from Tuesday's hearing.
In the first half of the interview, Clinton, 42, remained dressed in a hospital gown and pants, as police picked him up from The Bellevue Hospital where he’d been admitted a day after allegedly killing Heather Jackson, 23, and her two children.
He tried to commit suicide by overdosing on pills in a Clyde hotel, police have said.
Sandusky police started looking for Clinton after obtaining cell phone records that showed he was the last person to talk to Jackson before she was killed on Sept. 8. In his interview with Wichman, Clinton sipped water and talked about his relationship with Jackson.
He’d met her only five months before the killing, after he’d been released from prison after serving 13 years for the 1997 killing of an 18-year-old Fostoria woman, Misty Keckler.
Though he was in a relationship with a 19-year-old girl when he met Jackson, Clinton said he would meet her to have sex from time to time and would help her out when she needed money.
“I grew up with her boyfriend,” he said. “When we see each other, we see each other.”
Before the point in the interview where Clinton’s attorneys contend he asked for a lawyer, Clinton described where he’d been and what he’d done in the three days before his arrest, sometimes saying he couldn’t remember what happened and that his days were mixed up.
After Wichman confronted him with the phone records and he admitted to being at Jackson’s house near the hour she was strangled to death, Clinton fell mostly silent before stating if he had an attorney, he would talk.
When Wichman asked him for clarification, he said he needed a counselor.
In the video played in court, Wichman left the interview room. Then court officials stopped the tape.
On the stand Tuesday, Wichman said he later returned and continued the interview under the belief Clinton did not want an attorney.
During the second half of questioning, Clinton made incriminating statements, Wichman said.
Police arrested him after the interview, charging him with aggravated murder in the deaths of Jackson, her 3-year-old daughter Celina and her 20-month-old son, Wayne Jr.
He also is charged with two counts rape, for assaulting Celina and for an attack on a 17-year-old girl about a week before the killings.
Jackson and her children were found strangled to death in her John Street house Sept. 8. Jackson was naked and her body placed under a mattress in the home. Her children were clothed and found lying in a closet.
Clinton faces the possibility of the death penalty if convicted of the crimes.
His trial is set to start Aug. 5.
Judge Tygh Tone said he would issue his ruling early next week on defense attorneys motion to suppress the second half of Clinton’s interview.
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