The attorneys for a New Windsor man charged in the death of his girlfriend are attempting to prevent a police interview from being used in trial.
Bret Michael Wheeler, 25, of the 2000 block of Dennings Road, is charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, first-degree assault, conspiracy to commit first-degree assault and accessory to first-degree murder in the August death of Kandi Gerber.
Wheeler's attorneys, Matthew Williamson and Eric Offutt, motioned Tuesday in Carroll County Circuit Court for Judge Fred Hecker to suppress the interview Wheeler gave Carroll County Sheriff's Office detectives in the hours after Gerber's body was discovered at Old Washington Road and Muller Road, questioning whether Wheeler's statements were made voluntarily.
As part of the state's case for why the interview shouldn't be suppressed, Circuit Court Chief Attorney Allan Culver introduced the video recording of Wheeler's interview with Cpl. William Murray and Det. Richard Harbaugh.
In the video, Wheeler tells Murray that he and Robert Bosley, who is also charged in Gerber's death, drove to their residence because Bosley wanted to kick Gerber out of the house after he determined she had reported that he did not show up for work release. Bosley had been serving a six-month sentence in the Carroll County Detention Center after pleading guilty to second-degree assault in March 2016.
Upon their arrival, Bosley told the two other residents to leave with a juvenile, and Wheeler followed them to make sure they left, Wheeler tells Murray in the video. Wheeler then says it was because he believed things could get heated between Bosley and Gerber, and he didn't want the child to hear that.
Bosley told Wheeler to return after about 10 minutes, and when Wheeler came back, Bosley was out of breath and told him, "It's done," Wheeler told Murray.
"And when I walked down, there she was lying on the floor, and she was gurgling," Wheeler says in the video.
During the recorded interview, Wheeler's story slightly varies; at one point he says that when he went downstairs, Gerber was already dead, whereas another time he uses his fists to indicate that Bosley had slit Gerber's throat.
After Gerber died, Bosley gave Wheeler the razor he used, and Wheeler wrapped it up in plastic and placed it in a burn pit, he tells Murray in the video. Then Bosley tells him to help wrap her in a tarp.
"He kept telling me we're in this together, and you don't want to go to [expletive] prison, so grab her legs," Wheeler says in the video.
Wheeler tells Murray that he did not kill Gerber and that he didn't know Bosley was planning to kill her, just that he was going to kick her out of the house.
"I loved her. There's no way, shape or form that I wanted to kill her," Wheeler says in the video.
A New Windsor man accused of murder is attempting to have his interview with the Carroll County Sheriff's Office suppressed.
Robert Theodore Bosley, 39
But as the video continues, Murray tells Wheeler that his story isn't matching up to the evidence and tells him he only gets this chance to tell the truth.
"Again, Kandi's not here to tell me what happened, so I need to tell her story. Her parents deserve that," Murray tells Wheeler.
Murray then questions Wheeler on why he chose to help Bosley dump Gerber's body instead of calling 911.
"I have to explain to them why the man she loved, and the man that loved her, didn't call 911," Murray says in the video.
Williamson and Offutt focused on the conversation between Murray and Wheeler, asking Murray during testimony if his tone changed. Murray replied that it did and at points he interrupted Wheeler.
In arguments, Offutt told Hecker that it wasn't a single point that made Wheeler's statements involuntary but rather the totality of everything. Offutt referenced the psychological impacts of Murray's statements about talking to Gerber's parents or suggesting that Wheeler is not built for prison.
At one point in the video, Murray tells Wheeler that he thinks the real story is that Gerber was still alive after Bosley tried to strangle her and they decided to cut her throat so she didn't call police, as well as that Bosley did the act while Wheeler kept people away.
"Just because you didn't slide the knife across her neck doesn't make you any less guilty," Murray says in the video.
The statements, plus the uncomfortable environment of the interview room and the fact that Wheeler did not see a judicial officer for more than 24 hours after being arrested, make Wheeler's statements involuntary, Offutt argued.
He also argued that Murray violated Miranda rights at one point because when Wheeler responded with silence to a question, Murray tells him that his silence is telling.
But Wheeler's statements changed very slightly throughout the interview, Senior Assistant State's Attorney Brenda Harkavy argued.
Wheeler was sound of mind during the interview, and he acknowledges he understands everything going on, Harkavy told Hecker.
There were no promises, threats or inducements made by the detectives in the interview, Harkavy said. During cross questioning, Williamson asked Murray multiple times if a specific statement was a promise or a threat, and Murray always replied it was not.
Murray never promises that Wheeler won't serve jail time in exchange for a confession. Wheeler also elected to not testify, which can be used against him in a motions hearing. Because he didn't testify, no one knows how Wheeler interpreted Murray's statements, Harkavy argued.
The length of the interrogation does not apply because Wheeler's statements do not change and, if anything, he only adds more details, Harkavy said.
Hecker did not decide on the motion Tuesday and told the attorneys he would notify them when he reached a decision.