Hampson in court over constitutional rights

Taped interview key to supression hearing

A day-long court hearing Wednesday, looked into whether murder suspect Luther Hampson's constitutional rights were violated by the Montezuma County Sheriff's Department.

Hampson's attorney argued in District Court that after invoking his right to remain silent during a taped interrogation, critical points were raised. The defense also argued that the interview with the 26-year-old Dolores resident should be suppressed.

Luther Hampson is accused of murdering fellow Dolores resident Jonathan Hayes, 27, whose body was found by hikers Jan. 14, 2012 near Dolores.

In the more than 75-minute taped interview that was played for the court, MCSO detective Tyson Cox told Hampson near the beginning of the interview that he was free to leave at any time.

Katie Telfer, one of Hampson's attorneys, questioned whether Hampson was allowed to leave at any time since Cox was often between the suspect and the door during the interview.

She pointed out that at one point Cox moved his chair within touching distance of her client making it impossible for him to leave unless he was to "go through" the detective or to climb over a desk.

About 20 minutes into the interview, Cox read Hampson his Miranda rights to remain silent and his right to have an attorney present.

Hampson declined the attorney offer but said he wished to remain silent. Cox pressed him on this issue. Cox testified that he was not sure what Hampson was requesting and was attempting to clarify what the suspect wanted.

Cox testified that the questions stopped, but Hampson kept talking.

Hampson, once said he wanted to go home, invoked his right to remain silent, said he was not going to say anything at this time, was done talking and also replied that if the detective did not believe him, then maybe he should get an attorney.

When Hampson stood to leave toward the end of the meeting Cox told him to sit down numerous times, saying he would have to be escorted out of the locked sheriff's office since it was past closing time.

Telfer said when her client said he wished to remain silent, the only questions allowed is if the statement was not understood.

Hampson was never in custody when he was interviewed and being in the sheriff's office does not mean a person is in custody, it was argued.

Hampson came to the sheriff's office after being asked.

Roth said when the defendant decided to leave at the end of the meeting he left on his own accord, even though Cox had told him to sit and wait to allow him to be let out.

Walker said he would be issuing a ruling to the attorney as on the suppression matters soon.

He also scheduled another hearing for March 6 to discuss other matters related to the case.

Hampson's murder trial is scheduled to start on April 1.