Judge throws out Atascadero murder confession
February 10, 2015
A San Luis Obispo judge nullified the murder confession of an Atascadero man, ruling that police detectives violated the suspect’s Miranda rights. [Tribune]
Mark Andrews, 51, is accused of killing his neighbor Colleen Marie Barga-Millbury, 52, in May 2013. He has pleaded not guilty by way of insanity and is now standing trial for murder.
Leading up to trial, prosecutors had a taped confession of Andrews admitting to Atascadero police detectives that he shot Barga-Millbury in the gut. But, defense attorney Ilan Funke-Bilu argued that the video should be thrown out of court because detectives did not honor Andrews’ right to remain silent.
Judge John Trice approved of Funke-Bilu’s request on Monday, one day prior to opening statements.
Court transcripts indicate that during an approximately three-hour interview, Andrews told police that he was finished talking and wanted to go home and that it was his right to do so. The detectives continued to question him, though, and Andrews eventually confessed.
A prosecutor argued that Andrews’ request to stop talking was a momentary expression of frustration, not him exercising the right to remain silent. The district attorney’s office also alleged that Andrews was not in custody at the time, but Trice said he was in custody and that he did invoke his right to remain silent.
During the confession, Andrews said he shot Barga-Millbury because he felt an evil coming from her and he believed that she was a vampire. Andrews previously received a diagnosis of schizophrenia, and he told police that he was not taking his medication at the time of the shooting.
On the day of the shooting, Andrews allegedly drove to Millbury’s house and shot her twice with a rifle. The first shot hit her abdomen and the second struck her head.