Wood’s statements allowed in court

Published 11:12 am Wednesday, February 27, 2008

VIDALIA — Statements the Ferriday teen accused of triple-murder made to investigators even before he was considered a suspect will be used in court.

Attorney Paul Lempke, representing Connor Wood, 16, had filed a motion to suppress statements Wood made to investigators on the scene and in the days following the March 14, 2007 slayings of Wood’s parents John and Geraldine Wood, and neighbor Matthew Whittington.

The matter first came before Judge Leo Boothe Feb. 13, and was continued until Wednesday so the court could hear a final testimony by Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office Investigator Jack Fletcher, who was unable to appear at the initial hearing.

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Lempke alleged Wood did not know what he was doing when he made the statements.

At question were statements Wood made during a 911 call, to investigators on the scene and recorded statements he made on March 14 and 17, all of which had conflicting details.

“Basically you have four different, distinct statements,” Assistant District Attorney Brad Burget said.

The statements Wood made during the 911 call and at the scene of the crime were made when he was not under arrest and not being detained, Burget said.

“They were basically excited utterances made by the suspect,” Burget said.

The first recorded statement was not made until Wood’s adult brother, Hudson, was present at the location.

Investigators waited until an adult with Wood’s best interest at heart was present even though law does not require them to, Burget said.

Wood was not considered a suspect at the time the first statement was made.

The second recorded statement was made after Wood made contact with CPSO Investigator David Hedricks.

“He waived the right to have an attorney present,” Burget said. “He initiated the conversation with law enforcement.”

Lempke said he did not have any further arguments than ones he made in a previously filed legal memo with the court.

Boothe said the court would consider the statements as evidence because the state had proven Wood knew what he was doing when he gave the statements.

“The court is impressed all of these (statements) were given in a voluntary manner,” Boothe said. “At no time did the officer do anything to coerce the statement.”

During the recorded statements, which were previously played before the court, Hedricks repeatedly interrupted Wood and told him he could stop at any time, or if he wanted an attorney present he could wait until one was so.

Wood alleged during testimony Feb. 13 Hedricks told him he was an attorney, and said if Wood made a statement Hedricks would help him.

During Fletcher’s testimony Wednesday, he said Wood told him at the scene of the crime his fingerprints would be on the guns in the house because he had recently fired them.

The matter is set to go to trial April 14.