Brill's words OK'd for trial

Judge says statements made to police are admissible in court

`Defendant ... was aware'

October 19, 2001|By Lisa Goldberg | Lisa Goldberg,SUN STAFF

Scott Jory Brill's statements during six hours of interviews with the two detectives investigating 14-year- old Ashley Nicole Mason's death are admissible at his murder trial, a Howard County Circuit Court judge ruled yesterday.

Judge Dennis M. Sweeney denied a defense motion to bar Brill's statements -- which include an admission that he stabbed Ashley once in the stomach -- at his trial next week. Although detectives might have used some deception to get information from Brill, Sweeney said, the 19-year-old Columbia man seemed to be aware of the police tactics and chose to continue with the interview.

"It's clear that the defendant, relatively early on in the process, was aware that the detectives ... may be playing fast and loose with him on the trickery element," Sweeney said.

Howard County detectives' statements did not rise to the level of coercion, he said. Despite that, Brill seemed to want detectives to believe his "ever-shifting version of events," the judge said.

The statements, included in a 277-page transcript of four police interviews conducted Dec. 15 and 21, are expected to figure prominently in Brill's trial on a charge of first-degree murder in the stabbing death of the Long Reach High School freshman in November.

The trial is scheduled to begin Monday. Brill, one of two suspects accused in Ashley's death, has waived his right to a jury trial and elected to have Sweeney try the case from the bench. His lawyer, Warren A. Brown, said this week the crime was so "gruesome" that he worried that a jury wouldn't be able to move beyond the "brutality" to determine whether there is reasonable doubt.

Motions in the trial of Brill's co-defendant, Frederick James Moore, 22, are scheduled to begin Nov. 5, with the trial to start Nov. 7.

Tips led to suspects

Moore, of the 6600 block of Eberle Drive in Baltimore, and Brill, of the 5700 block of Sweetwind Place in Columbia, were arrested in December, six weeks after Ashley's body was discovered in woods behind the Pizza Hut restaurant at Route 108 and Bendix Road. After the discovery Nov. 3, police set up a tip line for the case; three of those tips led police to the two suspects in mid-December.

By the time detectives Glenn Case and Nathan Rettig sat down with Brill for the first time Dec. 15, investigators had followed him, picked up a cigarette butt he had thrown out a window and sworn out affidavits for search warrants, Brown told Sweeney yesterday.

Varying information

What followed was a series of interviews at the Southern District police station in Scaggsville, during which Brill at first denied involvement, then said he watched through a side mirror on his car as Moore stabbed Ashley, and then admitted stabbing her once in the stomach after Moore dragged her into the woods. Brill also told detectives he was drunk that night.

Throughout the interviews, he maintained that Moore was the instigator. At one point, Brill told detectives that he stabbed Ashley once because Moore ordered him to -- so Brill wouldn't snitch. He said that Moore later told him he killed Ashley because he had raped her, according to the transcripts.

After the killing, police said that Ashley had not been sexually assaulted.

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