LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Little Rock police detectives twice interviewed a man accused of killing an Arkansas television anchorwoman without his legal counsel present and in violation of his constitutional rights, a filing by his lawyers claims.
The team of public defenders representing Curtis Lavelle Vance filed a motion asking Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza to stop such interviews from happening again. Defense lawyers also asked for at least two hours notice before police talk to Vance.
Lawyers were scheduled to appear in Piazza's courtroom Tuesday to discuss motions in the case.
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Vance, 28, of Marianna faces a capital murder charge in the killing of Anne Pressly, a morning anchorwoman for Little Rock television station KATV.
In the March 6 defense motion, public defender Katherine Streett claims detectives interviewed Vance for several hours Dec. 10 without notifying his lawyer at the time. Streett said Vance's lawyer, tipped off by jailers, tried to meet him at police headquarters, but officers "took him through an entrance on the opposite side of the building." Police refused to allow the lawyer into the interview, Streett wrote.
On Feb. 24, detectives again interviewed Vance for several hours without his lawyers being notified, Streett wrote.
"The detectives' lack of candor with Mr. Vance during the interviews violates his Sixth Amendment right to counsel," Streett wrote in the filing. "Detectives have engaged in subterfuge and have violated both the meaning and the express language of a standing court order in their successful attempts to interrogate Mr. Vance outside the presence of his counsel."
Little Rock police Lt. Terry Hastings declined to comment Monday on the defense claims, citing a gag order in the case.
Vance's lawyers previously asked Piazza to stop police from using jailhouse informants or installing surveillance equipment in his cell at the county jail. Vance remains in a solitary cell, held without bond pending a Sept. 9 trial on capital murder, rape, residential burglary and theft charges in the Oct. 20 attack on Pressly.
Prosecutors have not said whether they'll seek the death penalty.
Pressly, 26, was an anchorwoman on KATV's "Daybreak" program and had a small role as a conservative commentator in the Oliver Stone movie "W." Her mother, visiting from out of town at the time of the attack, found Pressly bloody and beaten. Pressly suffered extensive injuries to her head and upper torso. She died Oct. 25, never having regained consciousness.
Police worked for weeks without a named suspect until DNA collected at Pressly's home matched a sample from an unsolved April rape in Marianna, detectives say. A Marianna detective suggested that officers investigate Vance, a suspect in several burglaries. Vance denied being in Little Rock, but police say a DNA sample swabbed from his saliva matched the evidence collected in Pressly's death and the unsolved rape.