SPOKANE, Wash. -

Gail Gerlach, the man who shot and killed a car thief last March is in court for an important legal battle over whether statements he made to police before he was read his rights are admissible as evidence.

In the hearing Friday afternoon it was revealed one of the first officers at the fatal shooting scene back in March actually told Gerlach that he needed to get an attorney before talking to police.

After learning that the shooting victim, Brendon Kaluza-Graham, was dead, Spokane Police Officer Kristopher Honaker advised Gerlach he should get an lawyer but Gerlach said they were too expensive.

Gerlach's defense team is saying that's when police should have told Gerlach that he had the right to free legal representation if necessary but Gerlach talked to the officers anyway. He described the dynamics of the shooting and allegedly said he "did not know if he did the right thing."

Gerlach's attorney also claims that as soon as his client sat down to talk with a detective and was advised to his right to remain silent he did ask for an attorney and stopped talking.

Honaker said Gerlach struck him as a hard-working family man, and given the evidence at the scene, felt getting an attorney would be worth Gerlach's expense. However prosecutors argued that Gerlach was not in custody at the time he made those voluntary statements to the officers at the scene and therefore they are admissible and can be heard by a jury.

The defense wants Gerlach's statements suppressed because one of those alleged statements shows that Gerlach had second thoughts about using deadly force. Gerlach also showed police where he was standing when he fired that fatal round and at the point the shooting victim was already driving away from Gerlach and police say no longer a threat to his safety.

Because one of the detectives involved in the case just had knee surgery and was subpoenaed by the defense for this court hearing, the judge will continue the hearing in three weeks. The trial date has been set for March 31.