The day of the Marshall County High School shooting, the accused shooter did not sign a waiver of his rights until almost an hour through law enforcement questioning, and the waiver wasn't properly explained, according to a new filing from his defense attorney.
Defense Attorney Tom Griffiths filed a motion Monday to suppress statements from accused shooter Gabe Parker, who faces murder and assault charges related to the Jan. 23, 2018, shooting.
In his motion, Griffiths alleges, though Parker was read his rights at the beginning of the questioning, he was not asked at that point whether he wanted to waive them, and the waiver he eventually signed had not been explained to him.
Parker was questioned from 8:33 a.m. until 10:22 a.m., when he invoked his right to counsel, and during the questioning "made several admissions and incriminating statements," according to Griffiths.
Testimony at a previous hearing indicated that Parker confessed to the shooting, and that he said he saw the incident as something of a social experiment.
At the outset of his motion, Griffiths argues that juvenile questioning should be handled much more carefully than adult questioning, and despite the fact officers used conversational tones with Parker, their lack of explanations, the presence of five of them at once, their refusal to let attorneys in and other factors could be seen as coercive tactics. He also contends in the filing that none of the officers from the Kentucky State Police, the Marshall County Sheriff's Office or the FBI attempted to notify Parker's mother of his questioning, though Parker provided them with her number and two officers were already familiar with her.
Kentucky statute requires, when a juvenile has been taken into custody, officers must notify a parent, relative or guardian and explain to them the specific charges alleged and the reason for taking the child into custody.
Griffiths said Parker's mother, Mary Minyard, only found out through a roundabout way Parker was the alleged shooter, and police never contacted her to tell her Parker was in custody.
Griffiths also argues in the motion, after speaking with a defense attorney, Minyard attempted to have Parker's interview stopped until an attorney could be secured.
Two attorneys appeared at the justice center where Parker was being questioned, but both were denied entry, according to Griffiths.
At one point during the chaos of the morning, Circuit Judge James Jameson held an impromptu hearing to appoint the Department of Public Advocacy to represent Parker, though Griffiths admits that recent state Supreme Court caselaw nullifies Jameson's jurisdiction since formal prosecution had not begun.
Nonetheless, Griffiths argues the officers questioning Parker were obligated to stop questioning him when attorneys arrived. All those factors, according to Griffiths, contribute to a "totality of circumstances" that should cause Parker's statements to be inadmissible.
"The interrogating officers had a young boy handcuffed in a strange place, surrounded by heavily-armed authority figures, with no parent or attorney anywhere insight. Such a scene is the essence of coercion," Griffiths wrote.
Prosecutors also previously objected to some of the proceedings that morning, and argued Jameson should recuse himself from the case.
Former Commonwealth's Attorney Mark Blankenship, who lost his bid for reelection to current Commonwealth's Attorney Dennis Foust, said at the time he believed Jameson should recuse himself due to the improper appointment of the public defender and a text Jameson sent to the officers questioning Parker.
Jameson declined to recuse himself, and an appeals court judge declined to recuse him, despite noting the jurisdictional problem with the appointment.
Parker is next due in court on Aug. 19, where Griffiths' motion and any other matters that arise in the intervening time will be discussed.