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Attorney in murder case says client didn't understand rights

November 18, 2005|by PEPPER BALLARD

HAGERSTOWN

pepperb@herald-mail.com

The attorney for one of two young men charged with the November 2004 beating death of Curtis Eugene Hill Sr. argued Thursday that his client did not understand he had a right to have a lawyer with him when he talked with detectives.

Richard Winters, the attorney for 21-year-old Larry Wayne Shriner, made the argument Thursday during a Washington County Circuit Court hearing. The hearing was to determine whether Shriner's untaped statement to police would be allowed as evidence in his February trial.

Circuit Judge Donald E. Beachley said he would make his decision about that evidence by Jan. 1, if not before Christmas.

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Shriner and co-defendant Justin Kyle Marshall, 18, have been indicted on charges of first- and second-degree murder, among a series of related counts, in Hill's Nov. 3, 2004, beating death.

Hill's beaten body was found lying under a tree by Russo's Rx Pharmacy on North Cannon Avenue in Hagerstown by a passerby shortly before 8 a.m. Police allege Shriner and Marshall beat Hill that morning, dragged him to that spot and left him there to die, according to charging documents.

Both have been held at the Washington County Detention Center since Nov. 4, 2004, a jail spokeswoman said.

Hagerstown Police Department Detective Shawn Schultz testified Thursday that Shriner was arrested Nov. 4 in connection with Hill's death and taken to police headquarters for questioning. Schultz testified that Shriner signed a waiver of his Miranda rights and talked with detectives about the case.

"I can't say specifically that I remember" reading aloud Shriner's rights to him when he signed the forms, Schultz testified.

When Schultz started to take a tape-recorded statement, he read Shriner his rights, he testified. Shriner then hesitated and asked for a lawyer, Schultz testified.

The Miranda rights are four rights that an arrestee must be advised of by police before questioning, according to a 1966 U.S. Supreme Court case, Miranda v. Arizona. They include an arrestee's right to remain silent and right to have an attorney. If an arrestee cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed, according to the warning.

Before the tape started, Shriner was "cooperative, respectful" and never said he didn't understand what was happening, Schultz testified.

Winters argued that Shriner has a ninth-grade education and did not understand the Miranda form.

"He thought he could have a lawyer at trial, but didn't know he could have one at custodial interrogation," Winters said.

Deputy State's Attorney Steven Kessell argued that the court "has never gotten to a point of micromanaging" the way in which an arrestee is advised of his or her rights. Besides, Kessell argued, Shriner is "not a total stranger to the system."

Beachley said Shriner was charged with carrying a concealed weapon in 2001.

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