FRANCONIA TOWNSHIP, Pa. (CBS) –– The man facing First Degree murder charges for stabbing a co-worker at a Montgomery County meat packing plant — in what police say was a response to a prank — was in court today. His attorneys are arguing his statement to police should be thrown out because he was recovering from surgery for self-inflicted knife wounds.

 

Police say Peter Atem turned his knife on himself after he killed Danny Vazquez at the MOPAC rendering plant in Franconia Township last February. He was flown to Paoli Memorial Hospital where he underwent surgery.

The next day, after the breathing tube was removed from his throat, detectives interviewed him in the ICU.

Montgomery County detective Jack Wittenberger testified he advised Atem of his rights to not answer questions and to have a lawyer present. Prosecutors showed a form Atem signed before he was questioned.

But Atem’s attorney Benjamin Cooper argues his client was still under heavy medication, pain and trauma from the event.

“It was not the right time to question him about the events, he wasn’t really in a position to say I do or I don’t want a lawyer.”

Montgomery County Judge Gail Weilheimer heard arguments and will issue her ruling after she reviews Atem’s medical records. A trial date is set for March 30th.