The fourth defendant in a 2015 capital murder case, whose trial is set next week, on Monday asked a judge to suppress his statement in a police interview based on the alleged violation of his juvenile Miranda rights.
The trial for 20-year-old Cedric Cowan is scheduled for Nov. 6, and Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Howell didn’t immediately issue an order on the motion after hearing Monday from a prosecutor and defense attorney in the case that involved two fatal shootings and several robberies.
Last month, Cowan filed a motion to suppress the statement he made in a second police interview, two days after his arrest. He was 16 at the time of his arrest.
Brent Burney, one of Cedric Cowan’s lawyers, said in the motion that Cowan was arrested May 17, 2015, and Decatur police Detective Mike Burleson read him his juvenile Miranda rights that night and Cowan agreed to speak with him.
After charges against Cowan were upgraded to include charges of capital murder, he was asked if he wanted to make a statement, and Cowan said he did, according to Burney.
He was read the adult Miranda rights and gave a statement, Burney said at the hearing.
“Our position is that it is due to be suppressed,” he said.
Attached to the motion are Cowan’s signed waiver of juvenile Miranda rights on May 17, 2015, and his signed waiver of adult Miranda rights dated May 19, 2015.
“At this point, we’re not sure we’d offer that statement into evidence,” said Morgan County Assistant District Attorney Paul Matthews. “Our position is that the issue can be dealt with” at the trial.
But Burney asked to have the issue decided before the trial.
The juvenile version includes the statement that if a parent or guardian is not present, “you have a right to communicate with them, and if necessary, reasonable means will be provided for you to do so.”
Cedric Cowan’s brother, Joseph Cowan, 25, is another defendant and, on Sept. 24, he pleaded guilty to multiple counts of capital murder and robbery, and one count of shooting into an occupied dwelling. He was sentenced to life without parole on the murder counts and 115 years on the other counts.
A jury in February 2018 convicted Cortez Mitchell on two counts of felony murder and four counts of first-degree robbery. He received two life sentences and four 20-year sentences.
Amani Goodwin in January 2018 entered a guilty plea to two counts of felony murder and three counts of first-degree robbery, according to court documents. He was sentenced to serve a life sentence with the possibility of parole for each felony murder count and 20 years for each robbery count. In the plea deal, Goodwin had agreed to testify at the trials of his co-defendants.
All four were charged in the shooting deaths of Antonio Hernandez-Lopez, 27, on May 15, 2015, in Lopez’s Southwest Decatur home’s carport, and Josh Davis, 25, who was found dead in Wilson Morgan Park early the morning of May 16, 2015.
Cedric Cowan's lawyers also filed a motion demanding that the District Attorney's Office turn over all recorded jail phone calls it intends to introduce at trial, and Howell granted that motion.
In August, Howell denied a motion that she recuse herself from the case because of statements she made during Mitchell’s sentencing. Earlier this month, Cedric Cowan appealed Howell’s recusal order to the Court of Criminal Appeals, but a decision hasn’t been announced by the court. A similar appeal by Joseph Cowan was rejected by the appellate court.