By Ed Runyan
Attorneys questioned two Warren police detectives Friday regarding the Miranda warning given to Dale Hatch, the Detroit man accused of murder during a gunbattle in the rear of an Elm Road residence near downtown Nov. 11.
The warning is important because Hatch, 25, talked to detectives about a firearm and other things in the hours just after the gunbattle, which killed Marco Dukes, 32, of Warren and injured Dukes’ cousin, Larry A. Smith, 29.
If Hatch’s attorney, John Juhasz, can show that the Miranda warning was not given properly, Judge W. Wyatt McKay could throw out any evidence detectives obtained during the interview.
Hatch and Derrick Peete, 22, also of Detroit, face aggravated murder and other charges in the gunbattle. Both have remained in the Trumbull County Jail awaiting trial since November.
Under questioning by Juhasz, Detective Wayne Mackey said he read from a form to tell Hatch that he had rights such as remaining silent and having an attorney present during questioning at the Warren police station.
But as soon as Mackey finished reading the statement, Hatch began to talk to Mackey and ask Mackey questions, the detective said.
Mackey said it’s his habit to have the person being questioned sign the form acknowledging that they have been read their rights and understand them, but the flow of conversation caused him to forget.
Mackey said recent training has indicated that reading a person his or her rights is the only essential requirement, that having the person sign a form isn’t necessary.
Juhasz asked whether Mackey interrupted Hatch at some point after Hatch had been read his rights to ask him whether he understood his rights and ask whether he would sign the form, and Mackey said he did not.
Prosecutors have submitted a copy of the recording of the interview to Judge McKay to review, but the tape was not played in court Friday.
Also at the hearing, Juhasz and Chris Becker, assistant county prosecutor, said they had both learned Friday that there is a gap in the audio and video recording from the interview.
Mackey said Safety- Service Director Enzo Cantalamessa was in an adjacent room watching Detective Michael Currington interview Hatch that same afternoon and noticed that the recording device had stopped working.
He pointed it out to Mackey, who then gave Currington a voice recorder so he could continue the interview, and then got the audio/video recorder working again.
The attorneys said they don’t know yet whether the presumably short gap in the tape will have an effect on the validity of the evidence obtained during the interview.
Currington testified that at one point while he interviewed Hatch, the defendant asked why Currington was allowed to talk to Hatch “without a lawyer,” to which Currington replied “something to the effect of ‘because we’re talking to you now.’”
Juhasz asked Currington if that didn’t cause him to ask Hatch at that point, “Do you want to have a lawyer?”
Currington said it didn’t cause him to ask that question, and he didn’t stop the interview because, “He [Hatch] didn’t say he wanted a laywer.”
The hearing will resume at 1:30 p.m. June 28 before Judge McKay to consider another type of evidence Juhasz wants Judge McKay to suppress — evidence obtained as a result of Hatch being arrested near the Mocha House Restaurant just moments after the gunfire erupted.
The June 28 hearing will determine whether police had probable cause to detain Hatch, question him and run tests on his hands to determine whether he had fired a gun recently.
The Sunday morning gunbattle took place beside a day care that was closed at the time and less than a block from the Mocha House Restaurant, another popular restaurant and a prominent High Street church. City officials believe the gunbattle was drug related.