Gail Gerlach’s Defense Asks Judge To Suppress Statements To Police At Trial
by Kelsey Watts, KHQ Local News Anchor/Reporter - bio | email
Gail Gerlach was back in a Spokane County Courtroom Friday afternoon for a three and a half hour hearing regarding two matters: suppressing statements he made to police made on the day he shot and killed Brendan Kaluza-Graham, 25, and compelling discovery from prosecutors.
The morning of March 25th, Gerlach left his SUV warming up in the driveway of his NE Spokane home. He came back out to find someone had jumped in and was backing it down the driveway. As the man inside (later identified as Kaluza-Graham) was driving away, Gerlach says he thought he saw the man pull a gun and believed his life was in danger. He fired one shot that killed Kaluza-Graham and the SUV crashed into a garage two blocks away.
The defense says Gerlach was questioned by police that day without being read his Miranda rights and that police have "incorrectly paraphrased" what he said in some instances. Gerlach's defense lawyer, Richard Lee, wrote in the court motion, "Instead of being given his Miranda Rights; he was given what amounts to Miranda Wrongs."
Prosecutors argue Gerlach spoke with police freely and was never forced or coerced into answering questions. Beyond that, they argue, he was never entitled to his Miranda rights because he was never arrested.
During the hearing Friday, the state called four Spokane Police Officers who responded to the shooting and either spoke with Gerlach or accompanied officers who did. Each officer is at least an 18-year veteran with the department.
Gerlach maintained Officer Tyler Cordis told him, "If it happened like you said it did, you have nothing to worry about." However, when on the stand, Cordis said he didn't remember making such a statement.
Gerlach also said Officer Kris Honaker said, "I'm a gun guy too and you should probably talk to an attorney… It would be worth the expense."
However, Gerlach's team said he was never told how to get one or that a lawyer would be provided to him if he couldn't afford one, and that he wasn't read his rights until he was taken down to the detective office after speaking with police at the scene.
Judge Annette Plese will have to decide whether the jury will hear Gerlach's statements to police. Gerlach has pleaded not guilty to first-degree manslaughter and in court Friday his trial date was moved back from December to March 31st.
Brendan Kaluza-Graham's grandparents also sat in court during the hearing and told KHQ's Kelsey Watts "we're just here to stand for Brendan" and that they are "disappointed" with the decision to delay trial.
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