Confession Ruled Admissible In Death Of Teenage Runaway
Canadian and American police didn’t violate John Medlock’s constitutional rights when they took his confessions to the murder of a 13-year-old prostitute in Spokane, a judge ruled Wednesday.
The ruling - hailed as a “monumental” victory by the victim’s family - preserves the prosecution’s case against Medlock.
It would have crumbled otherwise.
Minus the confessions, there would have been no evidence linking Medlock to the Oct. 17, 1993, robberyslaying of Rebecca Hedman, a Tacoma runaway.
Now, a Spokane County jury soon will hear Medlock’s detailed account of the murder.
Jury selection is to start today, with a week of testimony expected to begin Monday.
Police had nothing leading them to Medlock when the 35-year-old warehouseman suddenly materialized in a suburb of Vancouver, British Columbia, threatening to jump off a bridge.
When Port Moody police stopped him, Medlock blurted out that he was responsible for “killing a girl in Spokane.”
With Medlock’s help, Spokane detectives quickly rounded up the alleged murder weapon - a wooden baseball bat with traces of human blood on it - and other corroborating evidence.
To get any of it before a jury, however, Deputy Prosecutor Steve Kinn had to fend off a blitz of defense motions attacking the confessions.
During a three-day pre-trial hearing this week, defense attorney John Muenster argued Canadian authorities illegally detained Medlock because the province’s Mental Health Act requires dangerous, disturbed individuals be taken immediately to a hospital.
Instead, he was taken to the police station and questioned about the Spokane homicide for 27 minutes.
Muenster claimed his client’s rights were further violated when Canadian authorities failed to provide American warnings against selfincrimination before taking the initial confession on Dec. 28, 1993.
Spokane County Superior Court Judge James Murphy disagreed on both counts.
He held that Medlock was properly detained under the mental-health law because, by his own admission, he was “depressed.”
Medlock, a Canadian citizen who grew up in Spokane, waived his rights and “willingly agreed to go to the police station,” the judge said.
As for the police interrogation itself, Murphy said: “I think these questions are appropriate, not only in the scope of good common sense, but also to determine Mr. Medlock’s mental state.”
There was no need for Port Moody police to give Medlock a Miranda warning, the judge said, because there had been no contact with American authorities at that time.
Armed with a murder warrant, Spokane police detectives Don Giese and Jim Peterson arrived in Vancouver on Dec. 30. Before arresting Medlock, they obtained a more detailed confession.
Murphy said that confession, too, was properly obtained. He rejected the defense argument that Medlock should have been informed of the charge beforehand.
The rulings came as a relief to Dennis Hedman, the victim’s father.
“When I heard, I pumped my fist in the air and said, ‘Yesss!” he said. “It was a monumental decision.”
Medlock rocked back in his chair at the defense table, showing no emotion as the judge announced the decision.
“We’re going to trial,” Muenster said afterward, declining further comment.
The defendant, who has no criminal record, is charged with firstdegree murder.
The day of the murder, police believe Medlock spent most of the morning and afternoon at Playfair, betting on horses and drinking wine coolers, before picking up Hedman at the corner of 2nd and Madison.
He paid her $50 for sex and drove her to the motel. Afterward, he allegedly demanded his money back. When she refused, he beat her to death with a baseball bat, then stole the money, according to detectives.
He rolled her naked body in a wool blanket and dumped it along the Spokane River near Downriver Golf Course, police said.
Sixteen months ago, when police questioned him, they asked why he killed the young prostitute.
“Oh God, I wish I knew,” he said.