Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

September 18, 2013

Court reviews if jury remark taints trial

Man confessed to murder after told a black man wouldn't get fair trial.


Kokomo Tribune

---- — INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Supreme Court will consider whether a man’s confession to a fatal shooting was improperly influenced by a Gary police detective who told him a black man wouldn’t get a fair trial.

The court announced Monday it would hear a request from 27-year-old McLynnerd Bond Jr. seeking to overturn a state appeals court ruling that his confession to police could be used in his trial.

Bond is awaiting trial in Lake County on murder charges for the 2007 death of 28-year-old Kadmiel Mahone, who was shot in the head and neck in a Gary apartment, The Times of Munster reported.

According to court records, Bond repeatedly denied killing Mahone during more than two hours of interrogation, and even after Detective Edward Gonzalez told Bond, who was under arrest on an unrelated matter, that if he confessed he’d get to see his family and said the prosecutor would reduce the charges.

Gonzalez then told Bond, who is black, that if he went to trial there’d be no one “from your part of the hood” on the jury, just 12 white or Hispanic people “from Schererville or Crown Point” — both suburban Lake County communities.

“They’re not gonna put people on there who are from your neck of the woods. You know that. They’re not gonna be the ones to decide what happens to you. You know that. I know that. Everybody knows that,” court documents quote Gonzalez as saying.

Following another hour of questioning, Bond confessed to shooting Mahone.

Lake County Judge Diane Ross Boswell said she had “great concern” about a detective telling a suspect he couldn’t receive a fair trial due to the location of the courthouse in Crown Point.

But she denied Bond’s motion to ban use of the confession during the trial because she couldn’t find a similar case invalidating a confession based on police suggestions of possible jury bias.

A state appeals court panel ruled 2-1 in May that Bond’s confession can be used in the trial because there’s no evidence the confession was involuntary, even though the court said Gonzalez’s comments were “inappropriate.”

Appeals court Judge James Kirsch wrote in a dissenting opinion that the court should have sent a strong message by suppressing the confession and explicitly condemning Gonzalez’s actions.

“Each time courts allow such conduct, they implicitly sanction it and encourage the next police officer in the next interrogation to go a bit further, to be more offensive, more racist and more deceptive,” Kirsch said.

The Supreme Court likely will hear oral arguments in the case during the next few months.