Sunday, May 13, 2007

Hearing Monday on Wamala defense motions

From "Ex-teacher seeks gag order in rape case" at the Nashua Telegraph:
A former Lowell (Mass.) High School math teacher accused of raping three young women has asked the court to gag prosecutors, police and other officials from talking about the case.

Severine Wamala, 46, of 22 Danforth Road, Apt. 22, faces 34 felony sexual-assault charges, each punishable by up to 10 to 20 years in prison. He has been jailed since his arrest in September, unable to post $1 million bail.

Police charge Wamala repeatedly raped three young women, ranging in age from their teens to early 20s, while living in Nashua over the past year....

Wamala has denied the assault charges, and his lawyers also have filed motions arguing statements he made to detectives should not be allowed as evidence against him. A hearing on the various motions is scheduled Monday in Hillsborough County Superior Court....

Wamala’s lawyers argue the high-profile nature of the case creates an unusual risk of prejudicial publicity, and in a motion filed Wednesday, they ask the court to issue a “gag order” barring themselves and anyone else involved in the case from discussing it publicly....

Wamala’s lawyers also have filed a second motion arguing to suppress statements, including alleged admissions, Wamala made while speaking with detectives about the charges. Wamala previously had argued that detectives taunted him, calling him names including “pig,” “perv,” “faggot” and “nigger,” though prosecutors and police dispute those claims.

Wamala’s second motion argues that detectives questioned him at length after holding him for more than two hours, without reading him his Miranda rights, and also led him to believe they would let him go if he confessed to the charges.

Prosecutors have yet to file any response to the gag request or second suppression motion, and it’s not clear whether the court will consider those matters in the upcoming hearing, which was scheduled to deal with Wamala’s earlier motion to suppress statements.

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