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Defense attorneys question confession in Caspari case

Published 5:43pm Monday, July 29, 2013

The capital murder case against 23-year-old Joshua Caspari of Tallassee may have reached a major road block and not in the favor of the state. Caspari is charged with the Feb. 15, 2012, shooting death of 20-year-old Anna Cardwell.
During a motion hearing Thursday, a video tape of Caspari’s alleged confession came into question as did testimony from an Elmore County Sheriff’s investigator.
Sgt. Troy Evans, who is the case agent, gave differing testimony as to what may or may not have happened to the video taped confession made by Caspari on Feb. 16, 2012.
During a March 16 preliminary hearing Evans testified before the court that the video machine was malfunctioning so there was no video tape of the interview.
During Thursday’s examination of Evans, it was reported there was a video taped interview of Caspari from Feb. 16, but it was somehow lost.
There was no audio recording of Caspari’s interview, and Evans later said no notes were kept during the interview process.
Caspari’s attorney Steve Langham wanted to know, “So if this goes to trial, we’re going to go on the testimony you remember?”
Evans said, “You can rely on the statement.”
Circuit Court Judge Ben Fuller was not satisfied.
“The contradictions from the testimony are staggering,” he said.
Evans was asked by Langham if there was a policy or procedure in regard to video taping or audio recording interviews for specific cases.
Evans said no.
Elmore County Sheriff Bill Franklin affirmed there is no “exact policy” regarding video and audio taping interviews.
“I know we’ve had more high-profile cases that we’ve made sure to video tape, but right now we don’t have a standing policy on what should and shouldn’t be video and/or audio taped,” Franklin said.
Friday morning Franklin said the presentations at the hearing did not correctly depict the entire situation.
“What Troy Evans testified to is truthful,” said Franklin. “The problem is no one took time to look at the preceding page of the existing transcript in which all of this they were talking about was explained.
“I understand the defense is trying to represent their client as well as they can and I respect that. But they cherry-picked an item off a page of the transcript without anyone taking time to review the preceding page. If that had been done, anyone could have understood that Evans was truthful in everything he said in court.”
Franklin said it is important for his department to assist in seeking “justice for the family.”
“We’re very knowledgeable of what Mr. Caspari had said to us,” Franklin said. “This should not hinder the further prosecution of Mr. Caspari if anyone thinks Evans testimony is of concern.”
Now the state has 21 days to respond to two key questions regarding Caspari’s Feb. 16 statement.
Should the statement that Evans’ produced of Caspari’s alleged confession be suppressed, and if so would that suppressed confession still leave enough probable cause for the investigators to have obtained a search warrant of Caspari’s Tallassee home, where the alleged murder weapon was found?
Neither Langham nor C.J. Robinson, chief deputy assistant district attorney and lead prosecutor in the case, were available for comment because Fuller issued a gag order on the case in November 2012.
Once the state has issued its brief, then the defense team has seven days after that brief has been filed to respond, as per Fuller’s order.
Peggy Blackburn contributed to this report.

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