Initial statements Pablo Solano Jimenez made to police investigating the 2010 death of Tracy Heschmaty cannot be used in court, a circuit court judge ruled Thursday, but a confession made by the murder suspect to investigators weeks later is admissible, according to court records.
The ruling came in response to a motion filed by Assistant Public Defender Trish Docherty to exclude statements by her client, who claimed the detective who arrested him did not have probable cause and failed to explain his rights before questioning Jimenez.
Jimenez, 29, is charged with first-degree murder in the bludgeoning death of Heschmaty, 37, in the early morning hours of May 31, 2010.
Circuit Court Judge Mark Jones ruled that Key West police did illegally detain Jimenez when he was handcuffed and put in a police car that morning, and a subsequent interview with Detective Pablo Rodriguez cannot be used at trial, according to court records.
"The court finds that the defendant's decision to waive his Miranda rights and speak with the police on May 31 was not freely and voluntarily made, but was substantially influenced by the illegal detention to which he was subjected," Jones wrote.
Jones did not, however, find that any "flagrant, malicious or intentionally wrongful actions were taken by police. Rather, the court finds that the defendant was detained as a result of a good faith mistake. The police were investigating a homicide. They were trying to act in a thorough, efficient and expeditious manner."
Jimenez was first detained when an officer saw him in a nearby store. The officer showed Jimenez a picture of a man circulated with a be-on-the-lookout alert, and Jimenez reportedly identified the man as himself. He was then handcuffed and placed in a police car.
Rodriguez arrived and, realizing police did not have probable cause to arrest Jimenez, took off the handcuffs and told him he was not under arrest, but that he wanted to talk with him about Heschmaty's death, records state.
"First of all, even though the cuffs were removed and the defendant was told he was not under arrest, the defendant was not specifically told that he was free to leave at any time," Jones wrote.
Even though Jimenez voluntarily agreed to go to the police station, Jones wrote that it is "reasonable to believe and consistent with logic and common sense that the defendant's continued presence inside the police car impacted his state of mind."
Jones shot down the central argument of Docherty's request, however, and ruled that Jimenez's confession on June 1, 2010, is admissible at trial.
Assistant State Attorney Mark Wilson was out of town Monday and unavailable for comment. Docherty did not return two phone calls seeking comment.
Jimenez is being held without bond at the Monroe County Detention Center on Stock Island.