Hearings Question Validity Of Nolan’s Police Statement
The case of Rodney Lee Nolan, 24, of HC 62, Box 50A, Burton, will continue into the next term of court. Following a voluntariness hearing which spanned several court dates, Nolan waived his right to a speedy trial on Dec. 7 and Judge Mark A. Karl set the matter to return Jan. 12 at 10 a.m. Nolan’s bond continues. He is indicted on three counts of burglary.
The most recent hearings took place Dec. 1 and Dec. 7 in Wetzel County Circuit Court. While many points about the case have been addressed, the defense’s main argument stems from the belief Nolan was not read his rights before making a written statement and that threats and promises were made to force Nolan into making the statement.
Furthermore, the defense argues Nolan was intoxicated at the time of the investigation and statement and was as such taken advantage of by law enforcement.
At the Dec. 1 hearing the court heard from two witnesses: West Virginia State Senior Trooper Frances Raynor of the Hundred detachment and Terry Quinn, Nolan’s friend and boyfriend of eight years to Nolan’s aunt, Patricia Nolan.
Wetzel County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Haught called Trooper Raynor to the stand. Acting as lead investigator to one of Nolan’s alleged burglary cases, Trooper Raynor testified that per Nolan’s request, he took a written statement from Nolan on Feb. 8, 2009, at military time 20:32, or 8:32 p.m. When asked about Nolan’s treatment at the barracks, Raynor stated Nolan was never handcuffed and no promises or threats were made to him at any point in the investigation. He also testified he did not believe Nolan exhibited any signs of being under the influence of alcohol, underlining that he is trained to spot such indicators.
When asked when Nolan was Mirandized, Raynor stated that according to the time stamps, it appeared Nolan was Mirandized in between the written and oral statements, indicating Nolan wasn’t read his rights before making the written statement with Raynor. During questioning Raynor confirmed he obtained the search warrant for both Nolan’s residence and his grandmother’s residence, Linda Fox, and that the basis for the search was from a statement from Nolan’s ex-girlfriend, Nicole Edgell. Raynor said he saw no reason to believe the statements from Edgell were false.
Nolan’s attorney, Brent Clyburn, questioned Trooper Raynor about the time span of events. According to the report the Miranda Rights were executed at 21:10, or 9:10 p.m., and the recorded interview lasted 18 minutes, but is recorded to have stopped at 21:37, or 9:37 p.m. By those time stamps, Clyburn asked Raynor what happened during the nine minutes unaccounted for in between the written and oral statements. Raynor simply stated he didn’t know. And when asked if Nolan was served the search warrant, Raynor said he didn’t recall. Raynor also confirmed he did come in contact with Nolan prior to this investigation, but wasn’t sure if he knew Nolan had a daughter then or not. Regardless of that fact, Raynor made it clear he had no recollection of anyone bringing up Nolan’s daughter or mentioning Child Protective Services.
Haught then asked Raynor if he would even have such authority to make plea offers. Raynor replied no, and shared with the court that Haught would be the only one in the position to make plea offers. Raynor added, “I would remember if anyone made promises, because it’s unprofessional.”
Clyburn then called his witness, Terry Quinn, to the stand. Quinn testified he pulled up to Nolan’s residence the day of the search on his way to visiting Fox. He said he pulled up to the trailer and talked with Nolan for a few minutes before going over to Fox’s neighboring residence and claimed Nolan was drinking Bud Light beer. When asked about Nolan’s mental state at the time, Quinn replied Nolan was “about half-way pickled” or drunk.
Haught’s only question to Quinn was if he ever saw Nolan take a drink, to which Quinn replied he only saw Nolan holding a beer can.
The hearing resumed Dec. 7 with Clyburn presenting three last witnesses to defend Nolan. The first witness called was Nolan’s aunt, Patricia Nolan. Patricia testified that on Feb. 8, 2009, she had gone to visit her mother, Fox, but had first stopped by Rodney’s residence. She stated he was drinking a Bud Light beer when she pulled into the residence and that during a lengthy sit-down conversation Rodney had consumed five or six 12-ounce cans of beer. Clyburn asked what condition Rodney was in. Patricia replied, “I’d say he had a pretty good buzz.”
Haught then asked Patricia if Rodney understood everything they spoke about during their time together and if he was aware of his surroundings. Patricia responded that she had to repeat a few things but that generally he seemed coherent.
Clyburn then called Nolan’s grandmother, Fox, to testify. Fox said police came to her residence and asked her to call Nolan’s house. When she did, there was no answer. As she remembers, a policeman told her, “You better go over there and get him or I’m going to break the door in and get him.” She added she’d been at Nolan’s residence earlier that day and claimed he was drinking beer at that time.
Clyburn asked if police had said anything else to Nolan that day. She said she remembered hearing one say Nolan would have to ride with them because he was intoxicated and that Nolan needed to cooperate or they’d take his daughter. Also, that he had to make a statement or else the police were going to call the DHHR (Department of Health and Human Resources). She also said the police asked her to pick Nolan up from the barracks after they were finished.
Haught asked Fox if police found a sawed-off shot gun at her residence. She clarified they found one in her building and that it was there for years and belonged to an ex-boyfriend. Haught asked about other items taken from the building. She said if they did, she didn’t know about it.
Lastly, Clyburn called Nolan’s mother, Lynette Tedrow, as the final witness. She testified she got a concerned call from Fox that day in question saying Rodney had been drinking. Tedrow said she didn’t take it too seriously, but when she got home and saw the cops parked along the road near her son’s house, she promptly went to speak to Deputy Rob Hayes.
Tedrow testified Deputy Hayes explained the situation, saying he knew Nolan was intoxicated and would drive him to the Hundred detachment to take a statement. She also said she could tell her son was not in his right mind. Because of her observations as well as what Deputy Hayes told her, Tedrow concluded, “I left with the impression [Nolan] was too drunk to drive.”
The three counts of burglary against Nolan are alleged to have occurred between Oct. 1 and Nov. 1, 2008. Count one charges Nolan with breaking and entering the residence of Clint. W. Jones, located on County Route 66, commonly known as Harker Run Road, in Wetzel County. Count two charges him with breaking and entering the residence of William Lane and Sandra Lane, located on Long Drain/Earnshaw Road. Count three charges Nolan with breaking and entering the residence of Millar P. Cayavec, located on Higginbotham Run Road in Wetzel County.