Supreme Court considers whether jury-bias claim led to murder confession

2014-02-06T18:30:00Z 2014-02-07T05:12:04Z Supreme Court considers whether jury-bias claim led to murder confessionDan Carden dan.carden@nwi.com, (317) 637-9078 nwitimes.com
February 06, 2014 6:30 pm  • 

INDIANAPOLIS | The Indiana Supreme Court heard oral arguments Thursday to determine whether a Gary man voluntarily confessed to murder or was improperly influenced by a Gary police detective who told him a black man can't get a fair trial in Crown Point.

On Feb. 13, 2011, McLynnerd Bond Jr., now 28, was questioned by Detective Edward Gonzalez for more than three hours about the 2007 murder of Kadmiel Mahone, 28, who was shot in the head and neck in an apartment in the 4200 block of West 23rd Place in Gary.

According to court records, Bond repeatedly denied killing Mahone until Gonzalez told Bond, who is black, that if he went to trial there would be no one "from your part of the hood" on the jury, just 12 white or Hispanic people "from Schererville or Crown Point."

"They're not gonna put people on there who are from your neck of the woods. You know that. They're not gonna be the ones to decide what happens to you. You know that. I know that. Everybody knows that," Gonzalez said. "All they’re gonna see is, oh, look at this, another young (expletive) who didn’t give a (expletive). Don’t let them see that."

Thomas Vanes, Bond's attorney, urged the state's high court to set a bright-line rule that such invidious appeals to racial prejudice during police interrogation are inappropriate, and declare anything that follows, such as Bond's confession, cannot be used in court.

Chief Justice Brent Dickson, a Hobart native, asked whether the appeal must be racial in tone, or whether any instigation by police that the judicial system is biased constitutes grounds for tossing a confession.

Vanes said the racial aspect is so offensive it must be seen as a violation of due process.

He said if a judge told a defendant considering a jury trial or bench trial that the jury would view the accused through a racial lens, that judge's actions would be condemned by the Supreme Court.

Deputy Attorney General Ian McLean, representing the prosecution, argued that Gonzalez's comments were not racist, but intended to get Bond to relate to the detective, as both grew up with friends involved in criminal activity — something people without that experience might not understand.

"It was not a threat that you will be subject to a legal lynching," McLean said. "His jury was not going to be people who dealt drugs, people who carried guns."

McLean added that no matter how the detective's remarks are understood, Bond was advised of his right to remain silent and to an attorney but still made the decision to voluntarily confess to murder.

Bond's murder trial is on hold until this appeal is resolved.

Lake Superior Judge Diane Ross Boswell and the Indiana Court of Appeals both condemned Gonzalez's comments but concluded Bond's confession was not coerced.

A Supreme Court ruling is expected by the end of the year.

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