Valdes fights confession in double aggravated murder case

Jun 25 2010 - 11:18pm



OGDEN -- In a statement he wants thrown out, Jeremy Valdes says he washed his bloody clothes in their home after killing Matthew Roddy and Pamela Jeffries.

That detail was among new information on the allegations against Valdes that trickled out during Friday's day-long suppression hearing in 2nd District Court.

Valdes is charged with two counts of aggravated murder and faces the death penalty in the killings authorities believe came after Roddy, 30, and his mother, Jeffries, 56, accused Valdes and his girlfriend of stealing their prescription narcotics, and called police.

The defense is challenging Valdes' confession in the early morning hours of Dec. 1, six days after Roddy and Jeffries were believed killed in their Roy mobile home.

The hearing reconvenes July 2 and is expected to go all day, including a bid to set bail for Valdes, 34, held without bail since his Dec. 1 arrest.

The defense is claiming Miranda violations and possible coercive tactics by police during multiple interviews of Valdes in an eight-hour stretch.

Before saying he was the killer, Valdes told police "the Mexican mafia" was responsible for the slayings in a heroin deal gone bad and his and his family's lives were in danger, according to testimony.

He eventually recanted his confession and told police he was sticking with his original story by the end of his sessions with the officers in the pre-dawn hours of Dec. 1.

Valdes is accusing his own cousin, Roy Police Sgt. Shawn O'Malley, of denying his requests for an attorney three times when O'Malley was taking Valdes from his mother's home in Clearfield to the Roy police station to make a statement the night of Nov. 30.

Valdes wasn't even a suspect at the time, O'Malley testified, and never asked for a lawyer. Valdes' mother had called O'Malley after Valdes and his girlfriend, Miranda Statler, had come to her home saying they'd seen the bodies of Roddy and Jeffries dead in the trailer.

O'Malley said the intent was to use statements from Valdes and Statler plus those of concerned neighbors to get a search warrant to thoroughly check the trailer. Several cursory "welfare" checks in previous days of the trailer showed no sign of foul play at that point.

"But Jeremy was insistent the bodies were there," O'Malley testified.

As questioning continued, Statler was the first to admit involvement in the killings, officers testified. Valdes confessed after he was told that Statler had, they said, and she'd even led detectives to the mouth of Ogden Canyon where the knife used on Roddy was thrown into the river.

Statler was not charged with murder but is already serving a potential 20-year prison term on lesser charges tied to the killings. She was sentenced in April after testifying against Valdes in March at his preliminary hearing. Statler will testify for the defense July 2.

Valdes is heard on the tape played in court Friday saying of Roddy, "Oh my god I've killed him." Asked on the tape by a detective to whom who he was saying that, Valdes says, "To myself."

Roddy collapsed after he stabbed him, Valdes says on the tape, and upon seeing Statler and Jeffries wrestling on the floor, he kicked Jeffries in the head.

"She just laid there," he's heard to say of Jeffries on the tape, which was sometimes hard to hear clearly when the speakers talked low, because of background noises.

Jeffries was also suffocated with a plastic bag placed over her head.

"I don't know if Miranda did it or I did it," Valdes says when asked who put the bag over her head. But he's heard to say he secured it with duct tape.

Valdes' lead public defender, Gary Barr, pressed officers on the questions and context leading up to those admissions, which are missing from the tapes but alluded to in written reports.

The gap on the tape came, they said, when a digital recorder stopped recording because the tape was full, according to testimony. The recorder was not equipped with any warning signal to note when it reached capacity.

During a court break, Gary Barr said the defense will be able to present an alternative suspect at trial. Barr declined to name the suspect except that it isn't the Mexican mafia.

At one point Barr asked South Ogden Detective Brian Schultz on the stand, part of the county-wide Homicide Task Force called out after the bodies were discovered, if he ever told Valdes, "I'm going to snap your head off if you don't tell us what Miranda said was true." Schultz denied making the statement.

"Did you ever call him a punk?" Barr persisted.

"Not that I recall," Schultz answered.

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