Suspect tries to get statement nixed

The attorney for a Marietta man accused of dropping his girlfriend off near ATMs and encouraging her to commit armed robberies argued Tuesday in Washington County Common Pleas Court for the suppression of a statement the man made about his knowledge of the crime.

James J. Augenstein, 43, of 836 Pike St., is scheduled to go to trial June 16 on two first-degree felony counts of complicity to commit aggravated robbery.

Augenstein is accused of transporting Misty S. Fox, 32, of 237 Muskingum Drive, to downtown Marietta on Dec. 26 and 27, where Fox allegedly used a knife to coerce two men to withdraw money from nearby ATMs and give it to her.

Both Fox and Augenstein were questioned Dec. 28 and arrested later that day.

Augenstein’s attorney, Nancy Brum, argued Tuesday for the suppression of a statement Augenstein made to Marietta Patrolman Katie Warden after being properly Mirandized at police headquarters. According to Brum, Warden had violated Augenstein’s rights hours earlier by continuing a line of questioning after stating she was going to detain him at Fox’s residence.

During the initial 20 minutes of questioning at Fox’s residence, Warden’s conversation with Augenstein revolved largely around Augenstein’s knowledge of the armed robberies.

“What did you think you were sitting in the parking lot of a bank for?” Warden asked Augenstein during the conversation.

Augenstein said Fox persuaded him to go on drives when she wanted to argue about their relationship and during the night of the first robbery exited the vehicle in a huff and returned minutes later after supposedly calming down.

The next morning, she convinced Augenstein to drive her under the guise that she was meeting a man about a job at Vogue Swift on Third Street, he said.

About 20 minutes into the conversation, Warden says she is going to detain Augenstein while she talks to Fox inside and calls for an officer to come pick him up.

She continues talking to Augenstein about the crime after verbally detaining him, constituting a Miranda violation, said Brum.

“(The statement at headquarters) was made within two and a half hours of a Miranda violation,” said Brum.

But Washington County Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Rings countered that the statement in question was not made immediately following the verbal detainment at Fox’s residence, but a statement made later after Augenstein had been read his Miranda rights and signed a written waiver of those rights.

“The interview at the police station, the very first thing she does is read him his Miranda rights,” said Rings.

Furthermore, despite Warden’s statement at Fox’s residence that she wanted to detain Augenstein, he was still not officially in custody while they continued talking, said Rings.

“Did you physically restrain him? Did you handcuff him? Did you restrict him to a certain room or area?” Rings asked Warden, and she answered that she did not.

After reading Augenstein his rights at headquarters, she relayed to Augenstein that Fox had accused him of orchestrating the robberies and forcing her involvement and began a more pointed line of questioning.

Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Ed Lane summed up the question at hand: “The issue is was his independent judgment overcome by what happened prior.”

Brum said that she had examples of case law that backed her motion for suppression and asked for time to get those documents together.

Lane said he will make a decision on the suppression April 28 after giving Brum time to present her case law and Rings time to present a response.