Modesto detective: Defendant told incriminating story in park stabbing

rahumada@modbee.comAugust 8, 2013 

  • ABOUT THE REPORTER
    Rosalio Ahumada
    Title: Courts reporter
    Coverage areas: Criminal cases, breaking news
    Bio: Rosalio Ahumada has been a reporter at The Bee for more than seven years, previously covering crime and public safety issues. He also has worked at the Merced Sun-Star, covering education.
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    E-mail: rahumada@modbee.com

— A detective testified Thursday that one of three murder defendants told him Taylor Koplen stabbed Tylor Crippen before he picked the victim's pockets at Creekwood Park.

Jacob Segura told Modesto police Detective Jon Evers it was Koplen who decided to rob Crippen and his girlfriend at the park. Evers testified that Segura said he saw Koplen stab Crippen.

As Crippen lay injured on the ground, Koplen searched the victim's pockets for something to steal, according to Evers' testimony. "He was just lying (on the ground), screaming for help," Evers testified.

A judge has ordered Koplen, Segura and Juan Garcia to stand trial accused of murder in Crippen's death. Before the judge's ruling Thursday, Evers testified about incriminating statements that Segura gave to investigators.

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Mark Sullivan, Segura's attorney, asked the judge not to allow the detective's testimony. He argued his client was intoxicated, had smoked marijuana earlier that day and was exhausted from a four-hour "grueling" police interrogation.

He told the judge his client gave the incriminating statements during the last hour of the interrogation. "He's sleeping on the floor, lying on the floor, absolutely exhausted," Sullivan said.

Deputy District Attorney Marlisa Ferreira argued that nothing shows Segura's statements were involuntary. She said some of his incriminating responses were given in the first half-hour of the police interview, which included long breaks.

She said the detectives gave him water and allowed him to take bathroom breaks. "There was no pressure," Ferreira said.

Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Dawna Reeves allowed the detective to testify about Segura's statements to police. The defense filed another motion to exclude the testimony after the preliminary hearing concluded, she said.

Defendant changes story

Crippen was stabbed to death about 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 29 at the east Modesto park. About four hours later, Evers questioned Segura at police headquarters. Segura was the first of the three defendants to be taken into custody.

Segura initially denied that he and his co-defendants were involved in the attack on Crippen. He said they were at the park earlier until a patrol officer told them to leave.

They went to a friend's house and drank liquor before heading home. Segura told the detectives he was "buzzed" from the alcohol but was not drunk and remembered everything.

His story changed as the questioning continued.

Segura was in disbelief when the detectives told him Crippen died. Later, Segura claimed there was a fight at the park. Thirteen minutes later, Segura's voice changed, Evers testified, saying Segura quieted and sounded scared when he started explaining that his co-defendants were involved in a robbery at the park.

"They were trying to rob him or something," Segura told Evers. "They tried to rob him. Obviously, with a knife."

Segura told the detective it was Koplen who said, "Let's go and rob them" when they spotted Crippen and his girlfriend at the park. Segura said he went along with the idea.

The detective testified that Segura told him Koplen had the knife and was making demands of Crippen. "Taylor asked the victim what he had in his pockets," Evers testified. "He saw Taylor making a jabbing motion with his hand (toward Crippen)."

Segura told the detective that he told Koplen to "knock it off" as Koplen took a cell phone and money from Crippen's pockets after the stabbing. "He told me that Taylor took it too far because he stabbed the victim," Evers testified.

On cross-examination, Evers testified that Segura initially told him Garcia had a knife before he said it was Koplen with the knife. Segura told the detective he stayed with Crippen's girlfriend when Koplen and Garcia began chasing Crippen.

Previous testimony has indicated that a suspect who looks like Koplen held up Crippen and his girlfriend at knifepoint before two other suspects chased Crippen. That testimony also indicated it was Koplen who stayed with Crippen's girlfriend while the two others started the chase.

Evers testified that Segura never said Garcia stabbed Crippen.

Waived his right to silence?

Segura's statements to investigators were a key point of contention for the attorneys. Wednesday afternoon, Sullivan argued that the statements should be excluded because the interrogation should have ended once his client said, "After you read me my rights, I don't want to talk to you guys, just so you know."

Sullivan told the judge that Modesto police Detective Ra Pouv was coaxing his client by continuing the interview and reciting his rights, even though Segura had already said he didn't want to talk.

The prosecutor argued that Segura waived his right to remain silent. She told the judge Segura was asked if he wanted to talk and he told the detectives "No, sir." She said Segura stayed quiet just a few seconds before telling the detectives, "I will talk, for a sec."

"Within seconds, the defendant changes his mind," Ferreira argued.

Reeves agreed with the prosecutor that the defendant's rights were not violated, and she allowed the testimony to be given.

Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at rahumada@modbee.com or (209) 578-2394. Follow him on Twitter @ModBeeCourts.

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