MEDINA — The attorney for a 50-year-old New Hampshire man said his client’s interview with the FBI should be thrown out because an agent continued to question him about whether he raped a female relative after he asked for an attorney.
Timothy S. Zimmerer, of North Conway, was charged in July with 16 counts of rape — nine against a victim age 13 or younger. If convicted, Zimmerer faces life in prison.
The child, who’s now 25, told investigators she was related to Zimmerer and that he assaulted her between 1999 and 2002 — when she was between 11 and 14 years old — while she was living in Medina County. The statute of limitations on rape in Ohio is 20 years.
Medina County Common Pleas Judge Christopher J. Collier said he would listen to the interrogation, which was recorded by police, before making a ruling.
Medina attorney Bob Campbell said Zimmerer asked for an attorney during a September interview in Maine with an FBI agent and Medina County sheriff’s Detective Samo Mernik.
“I’m probably at the point where I would like some legal advice,” Zimmerer told the officers, according to court records.
Campbell said in court Friday that Zimmerer waited 45 minutes to ask for an attorney because the questions up until then were about subjects such as where he worked and lived. He asked for an attorney after police asked whether Zimmerer knew why he was being interrogated, Campbell said.
“Rather than cease the interrogation immediately as they were constitutionally required to do, the government agents forged ahead with their interrogation,” Campbell wrote in a Nov. 7 motion to suppress evidence, “convincing defendant that it would be in his ‘best interest’ to allow the interrogation to continue without the advice of counsel.
“The FBI agent, within seconds of defendant asking for counsel, told defendant that ‘he was only going to get so many chances to tell his side of the story.’ “
Campbell argued that the judge should bar prosecutors from using any of the interrogation because his client’s constitutional rights were violated.
County Prosecutor Dean Holman, in a Thursday brief in opposition, said Zimmerer’s statement was not a request for an attorney because it’s “ambiguous.”
“The Ninth District (Court of Appeals) has held that statements such as ‘I think I need a lawyer’ and ‘maybe I should talk to a lawyer’ and ‘I think that I would like an attorney’ are equally ambiguous,” Holman wrote, “and do not invoke the Miranda right to counsel.”
In addition, Holman said Zimmerer “re-initiated communication with the police” by asking about the legal process.
“The police ceased questioning Zimmerer about the offense,” Holman wrote, “until Zimmerer asked what was going to happen to him with the extradition process and how it worked.”
Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or firstname.lastname@example.org.