SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Prosecutors can’t use a Farmington murder suspect’s statement to police because he had invoked his constitutional right to remain silent while being questioned by authorities, New Mexico’s highest court decided Monday.
Donovan King was charged with murder in the May 2011 beating death of 40-year-old Kevin Lossiah, but the state Supreme Court ruled unanimously that King’s incriminating statement to police can’t be used as evidence against him.
The ruling upheld a decision by a state district court judge in December 2011.
Co-defendant Justin Mark was convicted of murder last year and sentenced to life in prison. A jury convicted Mark although prosecutors also weren’t allowed to use as evidence a confession that Mark made to police. Mark had the victim’s car keys when he was caught by police, and he had Lossiah’s blood on his clothes.
The Supreme Court said King’s Fifth Amendment rights were violated because police continued to interrogate him after he said he didn’t want to answer questions “at the moment” because he was intoxicated.
“This is a case in which the interrogator failed to honor a decision by a person in custody to cut off questioning, by both refusing to discontinue the interrogation and by persisting in repeated efforts to wear the suspect down and cause him to change his mind. This, the Fifth Amendment does not tolerate,” the justices said.
Police have said that Mark and King broke into Lossiah’s home, beat him with a stick and stole his wallet, cellphone and car keys.