Ruling due on Spicknall confession

March 16, 2000|By Chris Guy | Chris Guy,SUN STAFF

CHESTERTOWN -- A judge will decide tomorrow whether the confession of a Laurel man accused of killing his two young children last fall can be used against him and whether the case should be thrown out because Talbot County officials deliberately stalled a psychiatric examination that could have provided crucial evidence.

In a third day of pretrial testimony yesterday, state police detectives revealed details of a confession made by Richard Wayne Spicknall II, who at first told officers that a car-jacker pushed him from the Choptank River Bridge near Cambridge and kidnapped his children.

Defense attorneys argued again that Kent County Circuit Judge J. Frederick Price should dismiss the case or throw out the confession because Talbot officials refused for a week to allow a private neuropsychiatrist to examine Spicknall until seven days after the incident.

If it had been completed soon enough after the injury, the examination would have determined whether Spicknall suffered a concussion in the fall from the 70-foot-high U.S. 50 bridge, said Dr. David A. Williamson, the neuropsychiatrist. A concussion, defense attorneys argue, would have prevented Spicknall from understanding his rights.

"They knew we hired Dr. Williamson because we were concerned about a concussion," said defense attorney Michael Belsky of Baltimore. "We have been deprived of our right to defend this case. We've lost our defense in this case because of their actions."

Detectives interviewed Spicknall after he was found by a fisherman at the Choptank River fishing pier in the pre-dawn hours of Sept. 9. They said they began to consider him a suspect after he lied to them about owning a gun.

Sgt. Ron Cullinson said that after he told Spicknall his story was not believable, Spicknall began crying, saying repeatedly that he loved his children. "I should have given the gun to my Dad," he recalled Spicknall saying.

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