At a Wednesday evidentiary hearing in a Maricopa murder case, Pinal Superior Court Judge Kevin D. White listened to a defense motion to suppress an audio recording, claiming it was in violation of the suspect’s Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and 14th Amendment rights.
Bret Huggins, attorney for Kathryn Sinkevitch, moved to suppress a phone call that police recorded in connection with first-degree murder in the shooting death of 31-year-old Michael Agerter in December 2016.
White took the motion under advisement as Sinkevitch’s case is set for trial later this month
March 4, Huggins motioned to suppress the audio recording between Sinkevitch and her friend after the murder.
“On Dec. 16, 2016, after work, Kathryn Sinkevitch was invited over to the home of her friend Bridget Hopkins,” Huggins wrote in his motion to suppress. “Bridget lived with her husband and children at a residence in Mesa… Kathryn arrived there and was visiting inside the home.
“Police surrounded the house and arrested Sinkevitch and locked her in the back seat of a patrol car.
“This activity by the police was not supported by either an arrest or search warrant from any court,” Huggins wrote in his motion.
Sinkevitch was taken to the Maricopa Police Department from Mesa and locked into an interrogation room with a video camera running for several hours, according to files.
About 2:30 a.m., according to the motion, Sinkevitch “told police she was tired and needed to sleep. The detectives pushed on. Detectives gave Kathryn her Miranda rights. Kathryn told the police clearly, ‘lawyer, I want a lawyer.’”
Huggins continued, “At no time did police take Kathryn to a magistrate in Maricopa County prior to removing her to Pinal County. At no time did police make any effort to get Kathryn a lawyer.”
According to the motion, Maricopa Police influenced her friend Hopkins into recording a telephone conversation between them by threatening “to charge her as an accomplice to the homicide” if she did not assist them.
“At the police direction, Bridget sent a message to Kathryn asking her to call back,” according to the motion. “When the requested return call came back, police directed Ms. Hopkins to answer on speaker as they recorded and monitored the conversation. Indeed, Bridget conducted the conversation as she had been directed by police to do, in order to obtain incriminating information against Kathryn.”
Huggins maintains that police obtaining this “incriminating information” in this manner was in violation of Sinkevitch’s rights after she made a request for counsel, and an attorney was not present when the conversation was recorded.
Huggins asked the court to conduct a voluntariness hearing as he challenges Sinkevitch’s willingness to give a statement to police. He accused the police of overreaching their authority by using her friend to conduct the questioning.
“In assessing voluntariness, the court must consider the totality of circumstances to determine whether the statements were or were not the product of a rational intellect and free will,” the motion reads.
According the Huggins, the court must decide if Miranda warnings were given and waived by Sinkevitch, in addition to proving that her statement to police was voluntary.
“When a person asks for counsel, police may not question him about any matter until an attorney is present. In this case, Ms. Sinkevitch requested counsel, yet she was not provided with a lawyer. Instead, police sought to get around the express request through subterfuge and buy (sic) using her friend,” Huggins’ motion to suppress reads.
Judge White made several decisions at the evidentiary hearing, including precluding any reference to an abortion of the child the two had together and the victim’s drug use and toxicology reports as he did have a medical marijuana card.
White approved evidence in the case related to the defendant’s and victim’s relationship history, the defendant’s knowledge of the victim’s address by hiring a private investigator to find him, paternity tests and protection orders.
White also approved the defense council’s motion for 100 additional hours of a defense investigator’s time.
The first-degree murder trial of Sinkevitch is scheduled to begin on April 23.