In a response filed last week with Marshall Circuit Court, prosecution refutes the notion that police didn't properly manage questioning of the alleged Marshall County High School shooter during his interview just after the incident on Jan. 23, 2018.
Defense attorneys representing Gabe Parker filed a motion on July 15 to suppress his statements made to police the morning of the shooting. The motion states Parker's rights weren't properly explained to him and paints a picture of a young boy who was surrounded by five law enforcement officers while his mother and attorneys were intentionally locked out.
But Commonwealth's Attorney Dennis Foust took issue with all of the above and in his response contends the video of the interview, "from start to finish, shows clearly that a knowing and intelligent waiver was made."
Foust asserts the defense team "exaggerate[d]" events, made "erroneous statements," "sensationalize[d] the actions of law enforcement officers" and took matters out of context. He further asserts the "facts" presented in the defendant's motion have not been established as fact by the court and notes there is no sworn testimony supporting any of those statements as facts.
There was also a correction made to the facts--a missing link: Foust notes former Marshall County Sheriff Kevin Byars was actually the first law enforcement officer who made contact with Parker following the shooting, not retired Deputy Brett Edwards. During that short interval, Parker allegedly admitted to Byars what he had done. Since the motion intends to suppress all statements made to law enforcement officers, Foust contends that statement, which was omitted from the original motion to suppress, should be included.
Foust goes on to state that during the upcoming motion hearing scheduled for Aug. 19, he will call several witnesses who will, through sworn testimony, determine "what actually happened that morning." Those witnesses will assist in establishing a "credible and reliable timeline" of what occurred from the beginning of the interview until such time as the interview was completed. Some of those witnesses include people who were with Mary Garrison Minyard, Parker's mother, during that time.
"The Commonwealth believes that the representations made by defendant about what these witnesses will say is not accurate in large part, and certainly do not establish an accurate time frame for what was occurring," the response reads in part.
The recorded video of the interview with officers, which is referenced several times throughout the response, Foust said "will be seen by the court, and speaks for itself." That video, he asserts, shows clearly that a knowing and intelligent waiver was made.
"Defense counsel apparently wants the court to believe that Gabriel Ross Parker was a frightened, naive, uninformed, immature child whose free will was overcome by five overbearing law enforcement officers," the response reads in part. "… Parker admitted from the outset that he was the shooter, and it is clear from the video and from Parker's answers that he was a highly intelligent, well-informed, mature individual who was nearing 16 years of age at the time of the shooting. …Parker's responses, which ended when he exercised his right to counsel, show both his maturity level as well as a complete lack of coerciveness from the law enforcement officers."
Foust also argued that because defense introduced public defenders Cheri Riedel and Bethany Wilcutt into the "fact scenario," the defendant has waived any attorney-client privilege between the defendant and his mother, and those two attorneys.
Regarding the defense team's assertion that law enforcement officers did not act according to the law by not attempting to contact Parker's mother when he was identified as the shooter, Foust said that's "wholly inaccurate."
Foust said the investigation entailed much more than just questioning the identified perpetrator of a mass shooting at a school, and pointed toward a case in which the US Supreme Court which finds there is a "public safety exception" to the requirement of Miranda warnings before a suspect's answers may be admitted into evidence. He noted Parker was read his Miranda rights prior to questioning, but also noted Parker's alleged actions that day created a public emergency that was "not a typical 'one officer, one defendant' case."
"The safety of the public was in great question even though defendant had been apprehended, as it was unknown whether he acted alone or in concert with others, as well as untold other matters which had to be investigated," the response reads in part.
In conclusion, prosecution contends: Kentucky law requires a totality of circumstances analysis in determining whether or not law enforcement officers acted properly and whether Parker's statements were made knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily; Parker's statements made on the day of the shooting to officers were made knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily; officers acted properly in conducting their investigation.
Parker is charged with two counts of murder and several counts of assault first degree. His classmates, 15-year-olds Preston Cope and Bailey Holt, died of their injuries; 14 other students were wounded during the attack. Parker allegedly opened fire in the commons area of his high school just before 8 a.m. on Jan. 23, 2018.