With the double murder trial only one week away, a 3rd District Court judge has taken a dozen motions from defense attorneys under advisement - including motions to suppress incriminating statements.
Fred A. Alvarez, 17, faces two counts of first-degree murder in the June 9 stabbing deaths of Donald Newingham, 39, and his 18-year-old son, Shane, both of Salt Lake City. If found guilty, Alvarez - who turns 18 next month - could receive the death penalty.Richard Gabaldon, 20, faces two counts of second-degree murder in connection with the deaths that occurred during a fight after the Newinghams were denied entry to a party at Gabaldon's Salt Lake home.
Monday, defense attorneys Andrew Valdez and Candice Johnson asked Judge Richard Moffat not to allow witnesses to testify about two statements Gabaldon allegedly made that might incriminate him.
After Gabaldon was arrested, a Salt Lake police detective asked him how he hurt his leg. Gabaldon said, "I hurt it when I kicked that guy," according to court documents.
In an earlier hearing, prosecutor Kent Morgan said that although Alvarez was the one who stabbed the victims, Gabaldon threw the first punch and also stomped on both victims' heads so hard that he hurt his foot. Valdez said there were footprints on at least one of the victims' heads, but the prints matched those of more than one person involved in the altercation and do not prove Gabaldon did it.
Valdez argued that Gabaldon's statement was given before he was read his Miranda rights and should not be admitted as evidence. But Morgan said Gabaldon voluntarily waived his Miranda rights before the statement was made and said it should be admitted because it shows the defendant's intent.
Valdez and Johnson also asked the judge to suppress another statement Gabaldon allegedly yelled out his front door at the conclusion of the fight: "Get those . . . white punks out of here."
"The statement was made about two minutes after the fight ended, and the two victims were lying dead in the street," Morgan wrote. "The statement evidences Mr. Gabaldon's callousness toward the fight and killing of the victims at the time of the incident."
The defense attorneys asked that the statements be suppressed on the grounds of unfair prejudice.
Alvarez's defense attorney, Robert Van Sciver, asked Moffat to declare unconstitutional the process in which prosecutors filed murder charges against his client in circuit court rather than through juvenile court, since Alvarez is 17. He also said it should be unconstitutional for a "minor child" to be put to death.
The defense attorneys also filed motions asking that the jury be allowed to visit the crime scene and the maximum-security units at the Utah State Prison. Van Sciver also asked that jurors who believe in "blood atonement" be dismissed from the jury.
The trial, scheduled to begin Nov. 13, is expected to last three weeks.