An attorney representing a Utah man accused of going on a crime spree after being accidentally released from jail says his client's confession to police should be thrown out.

During a hearing in federal court Friday, attorney Scott Williams questioned a local detective about an offer to not prosecute a woman found with Robert Douglas Preece after a fast-food robbery and chase, in exchange for Preece's confession.

Preece is charged with eight counts of armed bank robbery, brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Preece, a convicted killer, was indicted by a federal grand jury nine days after he was arrested in Portland, Ore., last November. He was found sleeping in a stolen car and had been on the run since being released accidentally from the Salt Lake County Jail on Sept. 18, 2007.

West Valley police detective Bob Bobrowski testified at Friday's hearing to being called out to the report of an armed robbery on Sept. 13, 2007.

A man had brandished a knife at a Quizno's at 3500 S. 3250 West and had fled in a black car. Police found the car, which led officers on a chase. Bobrowski said Preece fled on foot and ended up carjacking a woman's car at a nearby gas station and led police on yet another chase before bailing out of that car and being apprehended.

Also found in the original car was a female. When questioned by police, Bobrowski said Preece insisted that the woman had nothing to do with the robbery. After being read his rights, Bobrowski said Preece offered to give a confession as long as his female friend wasn't charged. Bobrowski said there was not enough probable cause to charge the woman and after checking with the Salt Lake County Attorney's Office, accepted Preece's deal.

Preece gave an hour-and-a-half interview to police after that.

Williams argues the confession should be thrown out because Preece did not give it voluntarily but was offered something in return, namely his friend's immunity from being prosecuted. There was also indications Preece was under the influence of drugs at the time of his confession.

Bobrowski said they didn't have enough evidence to charge the woman and that she was released that night.

Police say Preece went on a crime spree after being released from jail. During his time on the run, police say, he robbed a gas station, a check cashing store and a sandwich shop and twice robbed a bank. Preece is accused of using a handgun during the crimes.

Williams indicated that he is currently negotiating a plea deal with federal prosecutors and that the motion to suppress his client's confession may be moot. U.S. District Magistrate Judge Paul Warner said he would hold off on ruling on the confession for a few weeks to give Preece time to think about any possible plea deal.


E-mail: gfattah@desnews.com