Saturday, January 29, 2011

Pastor Enoch Jermaine Hill’s conviction overturned

Pastor Hill was sentenced to five years in prison in May of 2007. The Maryland Court of Appeals found that interrogating officers violated pastor Hill’s rights by creating an improper inducement (pdf).

The statement to a suspect by an interrogating officer that the victim did not want the suspect to get into trouble, but instead wanted an apology for what happened, is an improper inducement. Any subsequent statement made by the suspect in reliance on that inducement is deemed involuntary and inadmissible as a matter of Maryland non-constitutional common law.

Pastor Enoch Jermaine Hill is free pending a decision by the prosecutor to retry the case. Since the dissenting opinion was clear regarding the admissibility of Hill’s other incriminating comments, let’s hope the re-file the case.

The verbal guile exhibited by Detective McLaughlin in his thirty-minute questioning of Hill, which followed Hill’s recorded telephone conversation with the victim, did not cross the line into the prohibited territory of promises, threats, or inducements, such as would render Hill’s interview statements involuntary under Maryland common law principles. The suppression judge and the Court of Special Appeals got it right.

Hill admitted to apologizing to the victim while on the stand in his trail. Let’s hope the prosecutor has the guts to retry the case. The transcript of the telephone call between the victim and Pastor hill should be enough evidence to put him away.