Judge: Confession from former Lewis and Clark student accused of threats cannot be used in trial
SPOKANE, Wash. — A judge ruled Thursday that prosecutors cannot use a confession made by a teenager accused of making threats towards students at Lewis and Clark High School during his trial.
Ryan Lee was arrested multiple times in mid-2018 and early 2019 on accusations he sent threatening Instagram messages to a female student who attended Lewis and Clark High School. Messages from the same account included threats of a school shooting.
Judge John Cooney determined Thursday that Lee’s initial arrest by detectives was unlawful.
“The court concludes that Mr. Lee’s statements to law enforcement on May 30, 2018 were the product of an unlawful arrest and therefore excluded from admission and trial,” said Cooney.
Lee’s defense attorney, Carl Oreskovich, argued Wednesday that detectives pulled his confession from an unlawful Terry Stop and that detectives followed a car that pulled out of the Lee family home.
According to court documents, detectives obtained search warrants for Facebook and Comcast Cable. Court documents show they determined the username was registered to a house that Lee lived in with his family.
Documents show Lee’s sister and mother were also inside during the stop.
On Wednesday, Oreskovich said the family was questioned about the investigation and then instructed to go to detectives headquarters where Lee allegedly confessed.
Lee agreed to be interviewed by Major Crimes and originally denied having an Instagram account, per court documents. Documents also show Lee later admitted to creating the Instagram account, but said he was never actually going to go through with a school shooting. He also said he did not have access to any firearms.
Oreskovich claimed the traffic stop was illegal in the first place, thus requesting the subsequent confession be suppressed.
“At best, Mr. Lee may have had the opportunity to speak with his mother on the short ride to the detective’ office and perhaps place phone calls. Neither of these acts, as well as being advised of his constitutional rights constitute a severance between the arrest and the interview,” said Cooney.
Following the dismissal of the confession, Oreskovich said the court’s decision was the correct one based on the evidence provided.
The charges against Lee still stand and he will stand trial.
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