Murder suspect Pablo Solano Jimenez is asking the court to throw out his confession, claiming the detective who arrested him did not have probable cause and failed to explain his rights before questioning him, according to a motion filed by his defense attorney.
Circuit Judge Mark Jones heard arguments Friday from Assistant State Attorney Mark Wilson and Assistant Public Defender Trish Docherty, who filed a motion asking the judge to exclude Jimenez's confession in his first-degree murder trial.
Jimenez, 29, is accused of fatally bludgeoning Tracy Heschmaty, 37, with a rock in the early morning hours of May 31 as the two argued in a parking lot behind First State Bank on Simonton Street.
Jones is not expected to rule on the motion for several weeks, said Wilson, who noted that Friday's hearing was suspended due to a scheduling conflict and will resume on May 18.
The confession Jimenez reportedly made during questioning is expected to be a central part of the state's case against him. That evidence includes three interviews with Sgt. Pablo Rodriguez, in which Jimenez initially denied knowing that Heshmaty died. Ultimately, Jimenez admitted his role, but said he was not sure why it happened and he was unclear about his emotions at the time, according to a Key West police report.
In her motion, the defense attorney states the suspect's initial arrest on March 31 was illegal because police lacked probable cause. When police picked up Jimenez, "the only evidence police had that tied Mr. Jimenez to the victim was a [pharmacy] security camera still photograph from earlier that morning showing Mr. Jimenez with the victim."
The defense attorney states the arrest was a "fishing expedition" because police had questioned five or six people already, all of whom were persons of interest.
"Mere suspicion is not enough to support an arrest," Docherty wrote in her motion.
The prosecutor countered that Jimenez was in handcuffs for about five minutes, and then released. He later was arrested after interviews with police.
"We don't believe that detention should result in the suppression of his confession," Wilson said after the hearing.
The defense attorney also claims that in three subsequent police interviews, Rodriguez failed to properly inform Jimenez of his rights because he didn't have Jimenez sign a waiver.
"The fact that Mr. Jimenez has only a third-grade education, is a Spanish speaking individual, that he had endured six hours of interrogation and seven hours free, and then another six hours of interrogation, the confession must be found to be involuntary," Docherty wrote.
If convicted, Jimenez faces life in prison. Prosecutors are not pursuing the death penalty.
The judge's decision is not expected for several weeks after the close of the May 18 hearing.