The legal team representing a Connecticut man who is accused of killing his wife were dealt a number of setbacks on Jan. 27. A Superior Court judge denied defense motions to exclude evidence recovered from an electronic fairness monitoring device, prevent testimony about police dog searches, change the trial’s venue, and exclude residents from the man’s home town from sitting on the jury. The man claims an unidentified armed home intruder murdered his wife and then assaulted him.
The most heated arguments centered on the reliability of Fitbit activity tracking devices. An expert witness called by prosecutors told the judge that Fitbits are generally viewed as reliable and the device worn by the victim is known for its accuracy. Under questioning from defense attorneys, the expert conceded that the electronic monitors have an error rate of about 10%. Prosecutors successfully argued that the electronic evidence should be introduced and it was up to the jury to decide how much weight to give it.
The defense team won a minor victory when the judge excluded about the last 50 minutes of the man’s police interview, which lasted for more than six hours. The judge determined that the man’s Fifth Amendment rights has been violated because detectives continued to press him about inconsistencies in his account of the events even after he indicated that he wished to speak with an attorney. The man’s trial is scheduled to begin in April.
The judge’s decision to exclude part of the man’s police interview reveal how seriously rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution are taken by the courts. This is one of the reasons why experienced criminal defense attorneys may advise any individual being investigated by law enforcement to remain silent and seek legal counsel. Attorneys could make this recommendation vigorously to individuals who have been charged with murder or other serious crimes.