Accused in killing, Liu in court

Didn't understand some of his rights, Columbia man tells judge

January 19, 2000|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

A Columbia man accused of killing his wife and wounding her daughter in a shooting outside the Howard County Circuit Courthouse in March spoke for the first time in court yesterday, saying he didn't understand some of his rights when police detectives questioned him.

Howard Circuit Court Judge Diane O. Leasure also disclosed yesterday that doctors at Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center in Jessup had found Tuse S. Liu, 51, criminally responsible for his actions and competent to stand trial. Liu had sought to use an insanity defense.

His attorney, public defender Louis P. Willemin, argued yesterday during a motions hearing that Leasure should disallow as evidence any items authorities seized from his home and throw out his confession to police because he didn't understand his Miranda rights. Liu's trial on murder charges is scheduled to begin next month. Liu is being held at Perkins.

Liu testified yesterday that he did not understand the word "silent" when a police detective went over his rights March 11, hours after the shooting of his wife and stepdaughter after a divorce proceeding. Police accused Liu of firing a shotgun at the pair and then using a handgun, striking them several times.

After the detective read Liu his rights, according to transcripts, Liu told him in English that he had fired five rounds from his shotgun and four from his pistol. "So, when you saw them coming, what did you do?" the detective asked Liu. "Just get out of the car and shot them," he answered.

The next day, March 12, police took Liu to a District Court commissioner for his first court appearance. At that hearing, the commissioner told Liu that he had the right to a lawyer. A police detective testified yesterday that Liu then said, in English: "I don't need an attorney. I did it."

Willemin is seeking to throw out the statements and evidence gathered from Liu's house because, he argued, Liu didn't understand that he could remain silent and not answer questions.

Liu was questioned yesterday through an interpreter who spoke Mandarin Chinese. But under cross-examination, he answered prosecutors' questions at least twice before the interpreter had finished translating.

He also said he didn't remember whether police had informed him of his right to remain silent. Later, he testified that he guessed at that word's meaning under questioning because he thought "one word was not so important."

"That is disingenuous," prosecutor Lara C. Weathersbee said.

Leasure is scheduled to rule today on the admissibility of the confession and seized items.

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