murder trial of the woman accused of killing a Monroe County election official
recently came to close. Jessica Kennedy was accused of first degree murder
in the shooting death of Jim Miller. One of the key pieces of evidence
that prosecutors used in the trial was Jessica Kennedy's confession.
Police had always suspected several people were involved in Miller's
murder, but Kennedy was the only suspect to be charged thus far, perhaps
in part due to the statements she made to the police. Kennedy was interrogated
almost a dozen times by investigators, and the statements Kennedy made
were introduced as evidence against her. Most crucial was a statement
from the last of these many interrogations: Kennedy said that she and
others lured the victim to a house to rob him, and then she shot him.
Before the police can interrogate a person who is arrested for a crime,
the police must inform that person of certain important rights. These
rights are what are commonly known as the Miranda Rights. Perhaps the
most important of all is the right to remain silent. The United States
Constitution guarantees that no one can be forced "to be a witness
against himself." The Supreme Court has interpreted this to mean
that when the police question a person suspected of a crime, that person
can refuse to answer the investigator's questions. In other words,
the police cannot force a suspect to be a witness against himself by forcing
them to answer questions.
This right to remain silent is extremely important for any person who finds
himself or herself suspected, arrested, or accused of a crime. The police
often use the statements of suspects against them in a later criminal
trial; in fact, a person's own statement can be among the most compelling
evidence the government can present against the accused. For example,
in Jim Miller murder, there was also forensic evidence that implicated
Jessica Kennedy in the killing. But the jury undoubtedly found Kennedy's
own statement to police that she was the one who pulled the trigger among
the most significant evidence of all.
Ultimately, Jessica Kennedy was found guilty of lesser charges in the murder
case. She was not convicted of the murder charge itself, but with facilitating
the robbery and murder. While prosecutors stated that even without a confession,
they would prosecute Kennedy for the murder, it is unclear if they could
have gotten a jury to convict Kennedy without her own statements.
If you have questions about your rights if you are arrested or accused
of a crime, or to discuss your case, please
contact The Law Office of Troy Bowlin, II so you can speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney.