RIGHTS VIOLATED: Double Murder Interrogation
A judge will decide Wednesday whether statements a Winterset woman made to police after a double-murder will be admissible. Her lawyer says Des Moines police broke the law when they interrogated her. Rhonda Lee Plew is accused of disposing of evidence to help her boyfriend beat a murder rap. Plew’s boyfriend, 39-year old Ronald Hawkinson, is accused of killing two men at Seibert Trucking in Des Moines back in May.
Hawkinson was arrested at his mother’s home in Winterset, and Plew was picked up at the same time for questioning, then later charged with obstructing prosecution. But her lawyer says Plew should walk because Des Moines police broke the law when they interrogated her without advising her of her right to remain silent.
“They don’t have any evidence at all beyond the statement that she made which I believe was unconstitutional and violated her Miranda rights.” says defense attorney Michael Russell, “So you throw that statement out the state has no case.”
A transcript of the interrogation shows Des Moines police only read Plew her rights after an interview–and after she admitted to throwing out a steering wheel cover on Hawkinson’s truck.
“Any evidence that is recovered as a result of this statement also gets thrown out so it’s something that if I were the state of Iowa I would be concerned about.” says Drake Law School Professor Robert Rigg.
If Plew is convicted, she faces up to two years in prison and a six thousand dollar fine. Des Moines police are not commenting.