OSWEGO, NY – The police who collected the confession of the teenager accused of stabbing a Granby man to death went under the microscope Monday (July 28) during a Huntley/Dunaway hearing in Oswego County Court.
The 17-year-old defendant, Michael Celi, stands accused of robbing and killing Anthony Miller on Feb. 3 in his town of Granby home.
According to sworn statements allegedly made by each of the three defendants to State Police investigators, Celi is said to have entered Miller’s residence accompanied by Glenwood Carr Jr., 17, and Zachary Scott, 19, to steal marijuana and money.
The three teens allegedly confessed to investigators that the burglary plot went awry when they found Miller at home and Celi accidentally stabbed the man with a knife that the teen reportedly brought with him.
During Monday’s proceedings four state police investigators took the witness stand to testify about how the young men were interviewed, arrested and depositions collected when Celi and Carr Jr. made their sworn statements March 2.
During testimony Monday it was learned that Investigator Alex Kurilovitch was contacted by a relative of Carr Jr. on March 1 which led to the man’s arrest.
“She said she had information about the Granby homicide. She said, ‘I’m not interested in the reward whatsoever, but I feel like I have to do the right thing here.’ She told me, ‘I know who’s involved from start to finish,’” the investigator told the court.
Kurilovitch said arrangements were made to bring the woman in to the police barracks the next day to make a sworn deposition.
Senior Investigator Steven Bourgeois later testified that he took the woman’s statement in his office that afternoon.
“A plan was developed to have her wear a (body) wire … an audio recording to capture information,” Kurilovitch said.
The investigator said with the body wire police were able to hear in real-time a conversation between the woman and Carr Jr. alleging that Celi was responsible for stabbing Miller.
“During the course of that conversation she convinced Glenwood to go to S.P. Fulton to speak with us about this case,” Kurilovitch testified.
It was then that Carr Jr. made his sworn statement to investigators.
Meanwhile, Investigator Stephen Kealy and another investigator went to Celi’s residence in Baldwinsville to talk with him.
Kealy said Celi agreed to accompany them to the state police barracks, and once in the car the investigator read Celi his rights.
The investigator said Celi’s mother followed them to the police barracks in Fulton.
Once back in Fulton Kealy said the teen at first denied leaving his house the night Miller was killed.
Kealy said that during the interview he allegedly told Celi that Carr Jr. already made a statement about the knife.
“Knowing about the knife changed Mr. Celi’s mindset,” Kealy testified.
During cross examination, defense attorney Anthony DiMartino asked Kealy about allowing his client to speak to his mother.
“He requested that he be able to see his mom one more time,” Kealy said.
“You allowed him to speak to his mother but only after he had made the signed, written statement,” DiMartino said.
“That is correct,” Kealy said.
After the statement was complete, Kealy said Celi spoke with his mother in the interview room with investigators nearby.
During direct examination Assistant District Attorney Matthew Bell asked Kealy to describe what happened when Celi talked to his mother.
“He told his mother what he had done,” Kealy said. “He said he stabbed Tony. He said he was sorry.”
“His mother said, ‘You stabbed a man. You’re a murderer,’” Kealy testified. “He said he was sorry, he’s not going to see her for a long time, and asked her to apologize to T.J.”
As a precursor to a jury trial, the defendant has the right to a Huntley hearing in front of the judge to determine whether statements made to police can be used at a trial.
To make that determination Oswego County Court Judge Donald Todd will consider factors like whether Celi was in custody when he allegedly confessed, if in custody whether he waived his Fifth and Sixth Amendment constitutional rights, known as Miranda rights, and whether he gave the deposition of his own freewill.
The Huntley hearing requires that the judge must find Celi acted voluntarily beyond a reasonable doubt before the confession can be submitted during a jury trial.
The other question Todd will have to decide, via the Dunaway hearing, is whether evidence has been seized from the accused in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights.
Dunaway guides whether evidence – specifically statements admitting and implicating responsibility for crimes that were collected during interviews with police – is admissible at trial, even though a deposition was collected after the suspect was read the Miranda warning advising him of his Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights.
The hearing is based on the Supreme Court case of Dunaway v. New York which raised the question of whether or not a person who has been seized by police, regardless if he or she felt they had been arrested, was picked up due to reasonable suspicion or with probable cause.
In that 1979 case, Edward Nowak argued on behalf of petitioner Dunaway that in order to seize or arrest an individual police must have more than a reasonable suspicion, they must have probable cause.
During his trial it was stated that Dunaway gave a voluntary confession while in police custody as to his involvement in the murder of a Rochester pizza shop owner.
In his successful attempt to have the court’s decision overturned, Nowak argued before the Supreme Court that even though police did not violate Dunaway’s Fifth or Sixth Amendment rights, the arrest without probable cause constituted a violation of his Fourth Amendment Right.
Having violated Dunaway’s Fourth Amendment Right the fruit of the arrest, his confession and drawings of the crime scene, was not admissible as evidence to be used against him.
Evidence entered into the record during Monday’s joint hearing included a statement Celi allegedly made on Feb 11 to Investigators Steven Kellogg and John Fallon regarding Carr Jr.’s whereabouts the night of Miller’s death; and the statement Bourgeois took from Carr Jr.’s relative on March 2.
With two witnesses left to testify the hearing was adjourned for the day and the matter will be taken up again on Aug. 8.