Judge rules slaying defendant's statements can be used at trial

July 05, 2011|By JENNIFER FITCH |
  • Jeffrey E. Miles Sr.
Jeffrey E. Miles Sr.

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Statements made to police by a State Line, Pa., man charged in the slaying of a Hagerstown woman will be admissible during trial under a judge’s opinion issued last month.

Jeffrey E. Miles Sr., 48, is charged with criminal homicide in the April 2010 stabbing death of 29-year-old Kristy Dawn Hoke. Her body was found in a wooded area in the southern edge of the Borough of Waynesboro.

Defense attorneys argued for suppression of statements made when police first came in contact with Miles, who was threatening suicide on an Interstate 81 bridge.

Franklin County Court of Common Pleas President Judge Douglas Herman presided over a hearing on defense motions April 26. In an opinion issued June 10, Herman ruled the statements should be allowed.

“Whether or not Miles made any statements on the bridge, he would still have been questioned regarding Kristy Hoke’s disappearance and possible death. There is no evidence that Miles was coerced into speaking to the police regarding the incident,” Herman writes in the opinion.

In April, Pennsylvania State Police Sgt. William Mcareavy testified about approaching Miles on the bridge. He said Miles talked about “killing the demon” inside himself.

Mcareavy testified the defendant — whom police had hours earlier connected to Hoke’s missing-person case through conversations with his son and another man — made a few references to “Krissy” or “Kristy.”

Trooper Aaron Martin testified he and other troopers read Miranda warnings to Miles five times on April 6, 2010, the day Hoke’s body was found, as were the remains of a missing 17-year-old. No one has been charged in the beating death of Angie Lynn Daley, who was last seen by her family in 1995.

In his court order, Herman writes about the legal determination that custody can occur without an actual arrest. He addresses the circumstances on the bridge, saying the interaction between police and Miles was not an investigation, but rather a suicide standoff negotiation.

“The conversation that took place was directly related to the emergency situation created by the defendant. ... Even if he was in custody, the statements made to police were not the result of interrogation,” Herman writes, stating Miles made unsolicited statements.

The judge declined in April to rule on a defense challenge to the notice of aggravating circumstances, which is necessary documentation filed by the prosecution to seek the death penalty. He’s scheduled to meet with proposed expert witnesses in August to review their fees, which could be paid by the court.

The defense had also requested a change of venue due to media coverage and Internet postings. Herman said previously it was too early to make a decision on that because it is impossible to know whether potential jurors are biased.

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