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Court Orders New Trial For Juvenile

Reprinted from The Hartford Courant

By CHRISTINE DEMPSEY
Courant Staff Writer
July 25, 2008The Appellate Court has ordered a new trial for a juvenile convicted in 2006 of reckless burning and making a false statement to Vernon police.

According to a decision released this week, a three-judge panel ruled that the trial court should have approved the defense lawyer’s motion to suppress one of the juvenile’s statements because the police officer had not advised the 13-year-old boy and his mother of his rights. The officer had advised them of the boy’s rights in a previous interview.

The boy was accused of igniting cardboard outside the Family Dollar store in the Rockville section of Vernon on Oct. 9, 2005.

The same day, Officer Charles Hicking interviewed the boy after advising him and his mother of the boy’s constitutional rights. The boy wrote a statement in which he denied lighting anything on fire, the decision states.

Hicking then interviewed another juvenile who was involved in the incident. That child implicated the first boy, so Hicking returned to the 13-year-old’s home on Oct. 11, two days later.

As with the first interview, the boy’s mother was present. The teen, referred to as Kevin K. in court documents, accepted responsibility.

Although the boy and his mother signed the second statement, Hicking did not advise them of the boy’s rights as required under General Statute 46b-137(a), the decision states.

Based on the information from the second interview, Hicking gave the boy a juvenile summons.

In 2006, before the trial, attorney Jon Golas filed a motion to suppress the Oct. 11 statement, but the motion was denied. The boy was convicted and sentenced to six months of probation, after which Golas filed the appeal.

The three-judge panel was made up of judges Alexandra DiPentima, who wrote the opinion, William Lavery and Douglas Lavine. Lavine wrote the dissenting opinion, saying that the Oct. 9 advisement of rights was still in effect on Oct. 11.

“If the legislature wanted to limit the time within which an admissible statement could be taken, it could have included such language in the statute,” he wrote.

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