Dec 08, 2019 6:53 PM

Kansas City Police end written miranda warning for suspects

Posted Dec 08, 2019 6:53 PM

KANSAS CITY (AP) — Police in Kansas City no longer will provide suspects with a written copy of their rights and instead will give them a verbal Miranda warning as part of changes aimed at tackling violent crime.

Two Los Angeles murder investigation experts recommended the change, arguing that written warnings could deter suspects from talking to police, public radio station KCUR-FM reported.

The experts noted that keeping suspects talking is key because "confessions may occur, but admissions, lies or false alibis, can also be important."

At least 134 people have been murdered in Kansas City so far this year, up from about 121 at this time last year, according to police reports.

Homicides are also up in St. Louis and Springfield, and the killings of close to two dozen children in St. Louis put intense pressure on officials to act.

But it's unclear how much of an impact the change to Miranda warnings will have.

"It hasn't made a significant change, but we're hoping to see more of that over time," Kansas City police Deputy Chief Roger Lewis, who commands criminal investigations, told KCUR.

City District Public Defender Ruth Petsch warned that “it puts you at risk of eroding your right to remain silent." She said a written waiver, in contrast, clearly shows that the Miranda warning was given.

National Association of Police Organizations Executive Director Bill Johnson told The Associated Press that police often read Miranda warnings to suspects while in the field and also provide written copies during more formal interviews.

Johnson, a former police officer and prosecutor, said verbal warnings ensure that suspects who struggle reading are still properly informed of their rights.

But either way, Johnson said most people are already aware of their right to remain silent because of the phrase's popularity in crime shows and movies. He added that suspects often don’t take time to more deeply reflect on their rights after being arrested or while being interviewed by police, regardless of how they’re informed.

The consultant's report also called for Kansas City police to increase staffing. The agency in response plans to end its mounted division and shift eight officers to homicide starting in January.

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Dec 08, 2019 6:53 PM
Supreme Court delays start of federal executions

(Wesley Ira Purkey is from Kansas. His execution is scheduled for Dec. 13, for raping and killing 16-year-old Jennifer Long before dismembering, burning and dumping her body in a septic pond in 2003)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has blocked the Trump administration from restarting federal executions next week after a 16-year break.

The justices denied the administration’s plea to undo a lower court ruling in favor of inmates who have been given execution dates. The first of those had been scheduled for Monday, with a second set for Friday. Two more inmates had been given execution dates in January.

Attorney General William Barr announced during the summer that federal executions would resume using a single drug, pentobarbital, to put inmates to death.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan in Washington, D.C., temporarily halted the executions after some of the chosen inmates challenged the new execution procedures in court. Chutkan ruled that the procedure approved by Barr likely violates the Federal Death Penalty Act.

The federal appeals court in Washington had earlier denied the administration’s emergency plea to put Chutkan’s ruling on hold and allow the executions to proceed.

Federal executions are likely to remain on hold at least for several months, while the appeals court in Washington undertakes a full review of Chutkan’s ruling.

The Supreme Court justices directed the appeals court to act “with appropriate dispatch.”

Justice Samuel Alito wrote in a short separate opinion that he believes the government ultimately will win the case and would have set a 60-day deadline for appeals court action. Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh joined Alito’s opinion.

Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said the legal fight would continue. “While we are disappointed with the ruling, we will argue the case on its merits in the D.C. Circuit and, if necessary, the Supreme Court,” Kupec said in a statement.

Four inmates won temporary reprieves from the court rulings. Danny Lee was the first inmate scheduled for execution, at 8 o’clock Monday morning. Lee was convicted of killing a family of three, including an 8-year-old.

The government had next planned on Friday to execute Wesley Ira Purkey, who raped and murdered a 16-year-old girl and killed an 80-year-old woman. His lawyers say Purkey is suffering from dementia and he has a separate lawsuit pending in federal court in Washington, D.C.

Then in January, executions had been scheduled for Alfred Bourgeois, who tortured, molested and then beat his two-and-a-half-year-old daughter to death, and Dustin Lee Honken, who killed five people, including two children.

A fifth inmate, Lezmond Mitchell, has had his execution blocked by the federal appeals court in San Francisco over questions of bias against Native Americans. Mitchell beheaded a 63-year-old woman and her 9-year-old granddaughter.