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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Linn County prosecutors can use a teen suspect’s interview with police at trial, a district court judge ruled Friday.
Sixth Judicial District Judge Ian Thornhill agreed with prosecutors that police investigators followed the law and the interview can be admitted as evidence.
Lawyers for Marshawn L. Jeffries — 16 at the time — had argued at a suppression hearing that the interview should not be admitted at trial because investigators did not notify Jeffries’ parent or guardian of the interview.
Jeffries is charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of Malik Sheets, 20, during a June 18, 2020, party in northeast Cedar Rapids.
Thornhill called an hour recess to listen to an audio recording of the interview between Jeffries and Cedar Rapids police investigators Matt Denlinger and Chip Joecken.
He ruled Jeffries voluntarily signed a waiver to talk to investigators after police had tracked him and his co-defendant, Christian Emedi, 17 at the time, to Gurnee, Ill., on June 19.
During the suppression hearing, Denlinger said Jeffries and Emedi both had warrants out for them on probation violations in juvenile court.
Emedi, he said, was wearing a GPS monitor because of his juvenile case, which is how investigators tracked him and Jeffries to Gurnee.
Police identified Jeffries and Emedi as suspects after interviewing those who were at the party at 1058 Regent Ave. NE.
The witnesses said Emedi assaulted one person and shot Sheets, Denlilnger said.
The witnesses said Jeffries had pulled a gun while arguing with Sheets and pointed the gun at some friends. Jeffries then shot Sheets after he fell to the floor after being shot by Emedi, according to witnesses, Denlinger testified.
Denlinger said he never asked Jeffries about his juvenile case, and they immediately started talking about the homicide.
Denlinger said he was aware of the law that allowed police to question juveniles ages 16 or 17 without notifying a parent if a crime involves a forcible felony such as a homicide.
Jeffries, he said, read the Miranda warning form and signed it, waiving his right to remain silent and to talk to investigators.
Thornhill, in the ruling, said it doesn’t matter if Jeffries came into custody because of a juvenile court warrant because investigators — based on the audio recording — only questioned him about the fatal shooting.
Jeffries wasn’t coerced or threatened in any way to sign the waiver, Thornhill stated.
Jeffries, now 17, and Emedi, now 18, are charged with first-degree murder and obstruction of prosecution.
Cedar Rapids police were called to the party around 5 a.m. June 18, 2020, where they found Sheets badly injured inside the house, where a large party had been held earlier.
Sheets, a University of Iowa student, died from gunshot wounds to his neck and chest.
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