, Salem, MA

Local News

January 15, 2013

Do parents need to be there during questioning?

Lawyer for teen, 17, charged in slaying argues police should have called adult


Karp yesterday urged Salem Superior Court Judge Howard Whitehead to bar prosecutors from using that confession when the two go to trial next month.

The lawyer is also challenging the confession on the grounds that it was not made voluntarily, in part due to Martin’s age, as well as his mental health issues, for which he took medication, at the time.

But the issue that sparked the most discussion yesterday was whether the right of a juvenile to have an “interested adult” present, a right not guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution but instead under the state Declaration of Rights, should be expanded to include those under 18.

Whitehead, the judge, noted that he doesn’t have the legal authority to make the kind of ruling Karp was seeking.

“How much can I do here?” asked the judge, who later told the lawyer that he is “99 percent certain” he will deny the request.

As a judge in the trial court, Whitehead must confine his rulings to existing case law, and in Massachusetts, that means that police were not required to notify a parent before questioning.

Prosecutor Kristen Buxton made a similar argument, suggesting that police acted properly under the existing law and that Karp was asking the judge to make new law.

Both Buxton and the judge, who had already listened to a tape recording of the interrogation of Martin, said that the detectives were especially careful to explain to Martin all of his rights before proceeding, and that there was nothing coercive about the environment (the questioning took place in an old school science lab that is being used by Beverly police as office space) or their tone.

As for Martin’s state of mind at the time, Buxton noted that he was clearheaded enough to try to deny his involvement and to correct officers at various points; it was only after he was told that the victim had died and that detectives might have other evidence against him that he confessed.

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