Expat's murder confessions were violation of his rights - US court

2015-06-11 18:14
(via Web)

(via Web)

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Durban - A US jury will never hear the confession to four murders a South African man allegedly made when arrested.

This emerged from a ruling in the Supreme Court of the State of New Mexico News24 obtained on Thursday.

The judgement, handed down on May 11, upheld an earlier decision by Quay County District Court Judge Albert J Mitchell ruling Muziwokuthula "Muzi" Madondo's rights had been violated when he made the alleged confessions.

Madondo is originally from Richmond in KwaZulu-Natal. He emigrated to the US in 2008 to study theology.

Last year Mitchell ordered the suppression of Madondo's confessions following his arrest on March 27, 2011 in Conroe, near Houston, Texas.

Mitchell found Madondo's state and federal rights were violated after his requests for an attorney, as well as his request not to speak to the police, had been ignored.

In New Mexico Madondo is accused of shooting dead father and son Bobby Gonzales, 57, and Gabriel Baca, 37, in a Tucumcari hotel before fleeing to Texas in March 2011.

He is also alleged to have killed two people in Ohio, FirstMerit Bank executive Jacquelyn Hilder and Maritzburg College old boy Zenzele Mdadane.

The ruling by the five-man New Mexico Supreme Court in the Tucumcari cases was unanimous, but did not reveal the reasons for the judgement to be handed down later.

Confession

It is Madondo's videotaped confession the attorney-general wanted a jury to hear when he ultimately stands trial in December for the Tucumcari murders.

Police interviewed Madondo on three consecutive days, starting with the day he was arrested, and each day he told them more until he allegedly confessed to the murders of the four people.

The argument in the Supreme Court of New Mexico focused on whether he had actually given up his rights to silence and his right to have an attorney present after he had initially insisted on them on March 27, 2011.

In papers submitted to the court, Madondo's lawyers accused law enforcement officers of ignoring his request to remain silent and to have an attorney when he was arrested.

Chief public defender Jorge A Alvarado argued "because Madondo's confession only resulted from police ignoring his attempts to invoke his rights, misleading him about them, badgering him and preying upon his special vulnerabilities [particularly those relating to religion] to extract his admission, his statement was not voluntarily given".

Later Texas Ranger Steve Rayburn and Madondo discussed whether the South African would go to heaven or hell.

"God put you here for a reason," Rayburn told Madondo and urged him not to fight God's will, "because he needed to tell the truth to be spiritually free".

Arguing for the suppression order to be dropped, attorney-general Hector Balderas said Madondo knew he was giving up his rights when he talked and did so knowingly and voluntarily.

While Madondo now knows his confessions related to the murders of Gonzales and Baca would not feature in his trial in Tucumcari in December, the ruling would have no bearing on when he ultimately stands trial in Ohio for the murders of Hilder and Mdadane. The Ohio courts must decide whether his rights were violated.

While New Mexico does not have the death penalty, Madondo could face the death penalty in Ohio if he convicted of the two murders committed there.

Read more on:    us  |  crime

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