Teen's confession to be allowed in murder trial

September 14, 2008|By Jennifer McMenamin

The statements of a Dundalk teenager accused of fatally shooting a 16-year-old whom he and his friends picked at random to beat up can be used at trial, a Baltimore County judge ruled Friday. William R. "Billy" Ferandes, 17, is charged with first-degree murder in the January death of Joshua Gibson.

Defense attorney Andrew I. Alperstein had argued that his client's statements to police were involuntary because, he said, homicide detectives used implied threats and promises to persuade Ferandes to admit to the shooting. While detectives questioned Ferandes at police headquarters, a suspect in an adjacent room started hyperventilating and needed to be treated by paramedics while a third suspect could be heard crying and howling.

Alperstein argued that the commotion - along with a detective's earlier comment that police didn't have to twist the other suspects' arms or "put bamboo under their fingernails" - prompted him to confess. The detectives also brought one of the suspects - Robert L. Wood, a close friend of Ferandes - into the room to encourage him to admit to the shooting.

Judge Patrick Cavanaugh disagreed that the commotion or the friend's encouragement improperly influenced Ferandes' confession.

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