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Two defendants in alleged gang-rape at UMass seek to have statements thrown out (with correction)



Saturday, November 16, 2013
NORTHAMPTON — Lawyers for two of the four defendants accused of gang-raping a University of Massachusetts freshman in her dorm last year seek to have statements they gave to police thrown out of their upcoming trial.

Prosecutors maintain the men’s statements were given voluntarily and they were not in custody when they did so.

Adam Liccardi, and Emmanuel Bile, both 19, have pleaded not guilty to three counts each of aggravated rape in connection with the alleged attack Oct. 13, 2012.

Liccardi faces an additional count for allegedly returning and raping the victim again after the other three defendants left her room.

The Gazette as a matter of policy does not name victims or alleged victims of sexual assaults.

Liccardi’s attorney, Alfred Chamberland of Easthampton, argued in Hampshire Superior Court Tuesday that statements his client made to police should be thrown out because they were made while Liccardi was in custody without a lawyer present and questioning continued after he said he wanted a lawyer.

Chamberland said UMass police detectives interviewed Liccardi in an unmarked police vehicle with their weapons and badges clearly visible, seized his cell phone and continued to ask questions after Liccardi said he would like to speak with a lawyer.

Bile’s lawyer, David Pixley of Pittsfield, said UMass detectives made arrangements to speak to Bile alone in his living room with his parents out of the room and prevented his sister from entering the living room during the interview.

Pixley said the detectives created the impression Bile was not free to go or to end questioning any time and also did not have a lawyer present.

According to prosecutors, despite police having no intention of arresting them that day, both men were read Miranda warnings and willingly spoke to police.

UMass detectives who testified at earlier hearings said their only intent on Oct. 17, 2012, was to serve trespass notices to the four men issued by UMass in connection with the alleged attack.

Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Jennifer Suhl who is prosecuting all four cases said the statements were given voluntarily.

Suhl said neither man was ever in custody, so questions of whether they were properly informed of their Miranda rights do not apply. She added that even if it could be proven the men were in custody, questions about their Miranda rights still would not apply because they waived them voluntarily.

After the hearing Suhl but said the prosecution intends to use the statements at trial and said they are “one piece among many pieces of incriminating evidence.”

Judge Bertha Josephson, who presided over the hearing, took the matter under advisement and said she would issue a decision soon.

Meanwhile, the trial for Liccardi, Bile and their codefendants, Caleb Womack, 18, and Justin King, 19, will not be held until at least early next year.

DNA testing will not be complete until mid-February, lawyers on both sides said. The trial had originally been listed for December.

A status hearing was set for Feb. 11 to determine if the required testing has been complete and to set a new trial month.

None of the defendants is a UMass student. According to prosecutors and court records, three of the men were signed in by a stranger and one bypassed dorm security to gain access to the woman’s room when she was not there.* When she returned, she agreed to socialize with the defendants and two other female friends, drinking vodka and smoking marijuana with them, according to court records. Prosecutors say the alleged rapes occurred after the woman’s friends left her alone with the defendants.

King and Womack are free on $10,000 bail, and Liccardi and Bile are free on $2,500 and $3,500 bail, respectively.

Bob Dunn can be reached at bdunn@gazettenet.com.

* CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story included inaccurate informatin about how the defendants allegedly entered the dormitory.