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Ex-cop declines to testify



Published: Fri, September 21, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The former police officer said he took a polygraph test and passed.

By PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- A former Youngstown police officer implicated in the murder of a government informant was mum in court, but not outside it.

Andre Peterson invoked his 5th Amendment right not to testify during testimony Thursday in Shawn Armstrong's murder trial.

Peterson, however, told The Vindicator after the court session that he had wanted to talk but his attorney advised him not to because the prosecution has implicated him in Bradrick McMillan's death.

"I don't have anything to hide, and I want to talk," Peterson said. Peterson has not been charged.

He said that he and McMillan were friends and that he would not have taken part in McMillan's death.

Lie detector test: He noted that shortly after McMillan was killed, Lt. Don Bishop of the Warren Township police department asked him to take a lie detector test.

"I went to the man they chose for the polygraph, Atty. Bill Evans, who is in Akron, and I passed the test," Peterson said. "I answered every question they asked, and I passed."

Evans said he could not respond to Peterson's assertions until he has time to check his records. Prosecutors declined to comment.

Peterson said he was asked if he knew the murder was going to take place and if he willingly gave anyone his gun. Peterson said he answered no to both those questions.

Police say McMillan was shot in the head outside the Elks Club on Highland Avenue in Warren Township on Aug. 9, 1998.

Prosecutors said they do not know the identity of the shooter.

Gun and car: Prosecutors have said the gun used in the killings belonged to Peterson, who is one of Armstrong's friends. Armstrong was driving Peterson's car the night of the killing, prosecutors said.

Peterson declined to say why Armstrong had his car. Carlos Eggleston, another former Youngstown police officer, who prosecutors have also implicated in the murder, said Armstrong was going to fix Peterson's car.

Eggleston, who has not been charged, has also said he had no involvement in the murder.

Although prosecutors in the Armstrong case identified both Peterson and Eggleston as each playing a role in the conspiracy to kill McMillan, they refused to discuss why neither man has been charged.

Peterson resigned from the police department Feb. 12, 1999, to take a job in Columbus. Peterson said the gun thought to be the murder weapon had been stolen from him.

Peterson said he was recuperating from knee surgery and was at his mother's home the night the murder took place.

Cooperation: Peterson and his brother Vince, who is a probation officer with the Trumbull County Adult Probation department, said they cooperated with police.

"I let them search my car. I didn't ask for a search warrant -- I just let them do it," Andre Peterson said.

Vince and Andre Peterson said Andre talked to the FBI, and the agents said Andre was not a suspect in the case.

Police say Armstrong, 30, Lance Pough, 28, and Art Bell, 31, all of Warren, planned to kill McMillan, who was scheduled to testify against Pough in a drug case.

Armstrong is on trial in Trumbull County common pleas court on a charge of aggravated murder with a gun specification. If convicted, he faces 23 years to life in prison. The trial was to continue today in the courtroom of Judge Andrew Logan.

Guilty pleas: Pough and Bell both pleaded guilty to murder charges. Bell was sentenced to 10 years in prison on the murder charge and one year on a gun specification. Pough was sentenced to 15 years to life on the murder charge and three years on a gun specification.




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