Lawyers Attempt To Nullify Garland's Alleged Confession

By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, Tuesday, February 22, 2005

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

HAMPTON - Lawyers for the 74-year-old woman accused of beating her 84-year-old sister to death are trying to get her alleged confession thrown out of court.

Lawyers for Helen Garland have filed a motion in Rockingham Superior Court saying the interrogation techniques used by police were "specifically designed to induce a suspect in confession irrespective of the truth of the confession."

As a result, they should not be used against their client.

Prosecutors filed a response to that motion saying that Garland's statements were voluntary and that she was not tricked into confessing her guilt.

Garland is facing charges of beating her sister to death. Not only is she facing murder charges but six other earlier charges of first-degree assault.

She was arrested March 26, 2004, after she allegedly admitted to kicking and beating her older sister, who was found dead March 23 on an enclosed porch at the home they shared.

Garland allegedly admitted to police that she was unhappy that her sister was living with her and would beat her sister on a regular basis.

When asked to elaborate further on her alleged abuse toward Keyho, Garland told police, "I don't hit her often. She'd grab hold of my hand so I couldn't hit her again. I would never hit her in the head, it was around her chin."

Garland also told police that "she didn't mean to kill her sister."

According to Keyho's autopsy report, Keyho suffered bruises on her face and chest, two black eyes, bleeding between her brain and skull and 22 broken ribs.

Garland's attorneys, Barbara Kehen and Dorothy Graham, stated that the alleged confession was given after five hours of interrogation.

They also stated that police ignored Garland's repeated assertions of innocence and told her that they knew she was guilty and the only way to avoid criminal prosecution was to admit that she accidentally killed Keyho.

Garland repeatedly told police that she was innocent and at one point said, "If I killed my sister, I would drag her out of the house, put her in the car and dump her in the ocean."

In a interview with Hampton Union in August, Garland said her alleged confession was made out of frustration after police officers wouldn't take no for an answer.

She also said police officers took her out to dinner at the Galley Hatch and pretended to be her friends.

Graham and Keshen stated in court documents that throughout interrogations police provided implied incentives for Garland to confess by repeatedly describing her acts as "understandable, justifiable and a horrible accident."

They added that their client was under emotional distress and shock due to the death of her sister.

Prosecutors said the interview techniques were legal.

Garland is scheduled to go to trial in April.