Judge denies defense claims that teen's rights violated

Alonzo Dayshawn Hart is charged as an adult for armed robbery

November 01, 2011|By DAN DEARTH |

A Washington County Circuit Court judge this week denied two defense motions claiming that Hagerstown police during questioning violated the rights of a 16-year-old male charged as an adult for armed robbery.

Loren Villa, the defense attorney of Alonzo Dayshawn Hart, 16, of 254 S. Potomac St., said Monday in Washington County Circuit Court that her client wasn't properly informed of his rights during an interview in June at the Hagerstown Police Department.

Villa said her primary concern was that Hart was not told that he could end the interview at any time.

In addition, the defense claimed that Hagerstown police Detective Tammy Jurado, who also conducted the interview, influenced a police photographic array to make Hart, who is an African American, stand out among lighter-skinned people. It was noted that Hart also had a visible mark under one of his eyes.

Jurado testified that she not only read Hart his Miranda rights, but went a step further by telling him that he was entitled to stop the interview whenever he wanted.

Jurado also denied skewing the photo lineup, saying she included other people who had similar appearances to make them resemble Hart more closely.

Judge Daniel P. Dwyer said in his decision that it was important not to blindly follow the word of police officers in such cases, but ruled there was no evidence that Jurado influenced the photo array or failed to inform Hart of his rights.

Because Jurado was alone with Hart during the interview and not carrying a sidearm or wearing a uniform, Dwyer concluded that there was no attempt to intimidate Hart into making false statements.

Dwyer said another factor that influenced his decision was Hart's testimony during the hearing. Hart said that he was aware of his rights, signed the Miranda form and knew enough to tell police that he didn't want to have the interview recorded.

"It meant he was intelligent enough to know what was going on," Dwyer said.

Hart is charged with one count each of armed robbery, robbery, first-degree assault, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, using a handgun in a violent crime, theft of less than $100, and possession of a firearm and ammunition.

Police said the incident occurred at about 2:30 a.m. on June 19, when two males robbed Jacqueline Poffenberger at gunpoint in the 400 block of Salem Avenue.

Poffenberger told police that two males approached her as she was walking down the sidewalk and pointed a silver semiautomatic handgun at her chest, according to the application for statement of charges.

One of the men "racked the slide back on the handgun" and demanded that Poffenberger hand over her money, the charging documents said. She told them that she didn't have any money and took a step back.

The second male then took the gun from the other male and pointed it at her head, saying he knew she had money because he watched her walk to work every day, the documents said.

Poffenberger said she held open her purse so they could see inside, but the male with the gun pulled the purse from her hands, the documents said. The males then ran westbound on Salem Avenue, while Poffenberger ran to a nearby business to report the incident.

Poffenberger told police that she thought she knew the person who held the gun to her head and believed his name was Alonzo, documents said.

"During the investigation, it was determined that Poffenberger was familiar with an ex-girlfriend who dated Alonzo," the documents said. "She accessed the Facebook page of the ex-girlfriend and was able to locate some photos of Alonzo and determined his last name was Hart."

Jurado used the information to arrange a photo array of Alonzo Hart and five males similar in appearance. Poffenberger identified Hart in the lineup on June 24.

Hart was served with a warrant three days later and taken to the police station.

Poffenberger's purse contained a pack of Newport cigarettes, two necklaces, assorted makeup, two prescription medications and a wallet, police said. The value of the items was $78.25.

If convicted of all the counts, Hart faces a maximum 100 years in prison.

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