Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Today's Paul Devoe pretrial hearing: Part 2

The first two witnesses called today, two of four Suffolk County, New York police officers called, were fellow patrol officers Kenneth Bombace and Mike Alfieri. They transported Devoe from the Shirley, NY residence at which he was arrested to the 7th Precinct station and basically were in charge of watching Devoe for about three hours, including when he was put in a cell. They both testified that they did not ask Devoe any questions at any time but that Devoe made the following statements on his own during their watch.

According to these officers, Devoe said, "That's my mom" as they were driving him away from the arrest scene. Later, at the station, Devoe allegedly repeatedly asked if "that lady or guy are gonna come talk to me?", possibly referring to the two homicide detectives who later interviewed him. Devoe then allegedly said, "I guess they don't care about their lives or the people who are looking for them."

Once in his cell, Devoe allegedly asked the officers, "Do you know how many bodies they found? Five, six in Texas, maybe 12 bodies." Devoe also said, "I had a pretty fucking good thing going on in Texas--business, house, vehicles. If it wasn't (sic) for my stupid fucking girlfriend...one mistake ruined my whole life." Later, he told the officers, "They're gonna extradite me back to Texas, then Tennessee, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and back here (NY). I bet they found me when I turned the cell phone on. I had that bitch off the whole time, damn."

On cross examination, defense attorney Tom Weber asked if anyone had read Devoe his Miranda rights during that time the officers heard the alleged statements. The officers said no and that Devoe's demeanor had been calm.

The next two witnesses were Suffolk County homicide detectives Susan Nolan and Michael Milau, who, after reading Devoe his Miranda warning from a card and having him sign to indicate his waiver, interviewed Devoe and eventually took a verbal statement from him. Nolan testified that she asked him if he wanted a lawyer and he replied, "What the fuck is a lawyer going to do for me now?"

The detectives also testified that Devoe's demeanor was overall calm, responsive, aware, and not seemingly impaired. Nolan added that Devoe's demeanor did change at times, like when he cried and sobbed when talking about killing "Haylie and the other girl and the old lady" and when he seemed mad when he said, "Nobody had any fucking money." Devoe then allegedly told the detectives details of the Texas murders and the Pennsylvania murder and information about people he'd shot at in other states.

The detectives testified that Devoe ultimately gave them what became a written statement about the killing of 81-year-old Betty DeHart in Pennsylvania and consented to a buccal swab for a DNA sample. They also testified that they did not attempt to get a statement from Devoe about the Texas murders at the request of the Travis County Sheriff's office.

On cross examination, the detectives admitted that although they had the equipment on hand to video- or audiotape interviews, it is their policy not to do so. Their policy is to interview and get oral statements, which they take down as notes as close to verbatim as they can. After that, the defendant can consent to a videotaped statement, but Devoe did not consent to the videotaped statement after giving the oral statement. Also, Devoe told the detectives that he had been awake two to three days.

Defense attorney Weber also asked about Gerald Baldoni, who owned the home at which Devoe was staying when he was arrested. The detectives testified that Baldoni said he knew Devoe but when he saw Devoe with a weapon, he asked him to remove it. A loaded .380 automatic gun was recovered from the bedroom in which Devoe was staying at Baldoni's house.

During redirect, detective Milau testified that Devoe said he had slept at a truck stop in Tennessee on his way to New York.

The second-to-last witness today was Travis County corrections officer Brazell, who set up and corroborated the testimony of the last witness, inmate Steven Barr. Barr testified that he was incarcerated in the downtown jail facility last February for contempt of child support. He said he was alone in his cell when another inmate (Devoe) was brought in as his cell mate.

During Cobb's direct exam, Barr testified that he didn't recognize or know who Devoe was and introduced himself and asked Devoe's name. Devoe answered, "Wolf" and repeatedly said, "I got allot of time." According to Barr, Devoe said, "I killed six people." After that, Barr left Devoe alone and later reported his concern about sharing a cell with someone saying he'd killed six people to an officer who advised him to "protect himself" and told him he could fill out a request to be moved. It happened that Devoe was the one who was soon moved.

On cross exam, Barr said he had probably only spent around 40 minutes in the cell with Devoe. He said he was frightened and was sure that Devoe said, "I killed six people", not something like "I've been charged with killing six people."

The hearing resumes tomorrow afternoon.

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