By Tony Hanson
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — There was an extraordinary development today in the trial of the woman charged with kidnapping and sexually assaulting a five-year-old girl last year: the judge ruled a statement given to Philadelphia police by the defendant is inadmissible because she wasn’t given the proper warnings.
The prosecution concedes that police inadvertently failed to give defendant Christina Regusters fresh “Miranda” warnings — the right to remain silent and the right to speak to her attorney — so Judge Jeffrey Minehart has ruled the prosecution cannot introduce the statement at her trial.
Prosecution argued unsuccessfully that the statement should be allowed because Regusters had been given Miranda warnings twice previously.
According to authorities, the defendant was confronted by investigators with the evidence against her, including DNA, and then made a statement denying any involvement in the crime. She pointed blame at another person, whom she alleged had also sexually assaulted her.
But in testimony during the motion hearing — before the judge, with no jury present — Regusters has disavowed at least parts of the statement, saying she was tired, just wanted to get it over with, and “said whatever.”
Regusters is accused of donning Muslim garb, posing as the little girl’s mother, signing her out of her kindergarten class, then abducting the girl and violating her sexually.
The statement could be used later as rebuttal evidence if the defendant takes the stand in her own behalf.
The judge has imposed a gag order on the trial, so attorneys on both sides are prohibited from commenting on what impact today’s ruling will have on the case.