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Lawyer seeks to suppress defendant’s confession at jail

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, at 5:27 p.m.

Nobody seemed to know quite what to do last December when a man walked into the lobby of the Sedgwick County Jail with three simple requests:

“I need to be arrested. I need a lawyer. I need a psychiatrist.”

Sgt. Jeremy Woodson said he thought he was dealing with a homeless person.

“I didn’t have anything to arrest him for,” he told a judge Friday. “I tried to explain to him that I can’t take you to jail for nothing.”

The man grew frustrated, Woodson said, but didn’t want to say why he wanted to be arrested.

“He acted like he was ready to leave,” Woodson said. “He said, ‘I guess I came to the wrong place.’

“He stopped and put his head down. Then he looked back up and said, ‘I killed my wife.’ ”

The statements that Guy Wayne Palmer made to Woodson and other law enforcement officers in the jail on Dec. 16 are the subject of a legal dispute that began unfolding Friday as Palmer prepares to stand trial next week for first-degree murder.

When Wichita police went to the Palmers’ home at 6800 E. Farmview Lane to check out Palmer’s story, they found Debra Palmer, 61, dead in the basement of multiple stab wounds. The street, which is lined with homes, is near 13th and Woodlawn.

Police said at the time that it appeared that the Palmers’ marriage was coming to an end.

Defense lawyer Quentin Pittman is asking Judge Joe Kisner, who will preside at the trial, to suppress statements that Palmer made in the jail or to law enforcement officers before he was read his Miranda rights. The suppression hearing will continue Monday, and jury selection is scheduled to begin Tuesday.

During Friday’s testimony, Woodson said he was skeptical about Palmer’s claims at first.

“It’s common for people to come in and say, ‘I need to be in jail,’ ” he said. “I usually take those with a grain of salt.”

He said some people show up at the jail and turn themselves in after learning that there is a warrant out for their arrest.

“Did Mr. Palmer have a warrant?” prosecutor Mandee Schauf asked.

“No,” Woodson said.

Woodson also said it’s not uncommon for people to show up at the jail and confess to a made-up crime because they need a place to stay.

“You’re thinking this is a guy who’s just trying to get into jail?” Pittman asked him.

“Correct,” Woodson said.

“You’ve dealt with that before?”

“Yeah.”

“A lot?”

“Over 14 years, yes,” Woodson replied.

Also testifying Friday was sheriff’s Cpl. Fabiola Torres, who was working at the front desk of the jail when Palmer walked in and asked to be arrested.

“How often does somebody walk into jail and say, ‘I need to be arrested; I just killed my wife’?” Schauff asked her at one point.

“Myself?” Torres replied. “Never.”

Reach Hurst Laviana at 316-268-6499 or hlaviana@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @hlaviana.

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