Murder suspect continues to ask statements be dropped from evidence

Scotty Gardner, a man accused in Susan “Heather” Stubbs’ 2016 murder, continues to ask a Faulkner County judge to suppress statements he made to Conway police.

 

Gardner, 56, is accused of killing Stubbs on March 6, 2016, after a hotel clerk found her lying facedown in Room 114 of Days Inn on Oak Street. When police arrived, she was found strangled to death from a cord.

Katherine S. Streett, one of Gardner’s attorney’s, said she believes the statements Gardner made following his arrest should not be admissible in court, citing a Conway detective continued to ask [more than 10] questions of Mr. Gardner” after he invoked his right to an attorney.

Referring to questioning conducted by Sgt. Melissa Smith, who was a detective at the time she questioned Gardner, Streett said she believes Gardner’s interview with the Conway Police Department violated his constitutional rights.

Smith testified in a Sept. 1 motion hearing that she does not feel she impeded on Gardner’s rights, noting she stopped all questions pertaining to Gardner’s guilt in Stubbs’ death after he mentioned wanting a lawyer.

Thomas Scott Brisendine, who also represents Gardner, said all statements Gardner made during his interview with Smith should be thrown out as evidence because “Smith continued asking questions.”

“I wasn’t asking him questions about his involvement in this case,” Smith said during the motion hearing. “I was just continuing to talk with him, but not about this case.”

Gardner’s attorneys also argue that a second interview — which was conducted the day after Gardner’s arrest per his request — should not be allowed as evidence presented before a jury.

“Finally, when Detective Smith began her interview of Mr. Gardner on [March 8], she did not inquire about whether Mr. Gardner was able to speak with counsel,” Streett said in a motion subsequent to the Sept. 1 hearing. “In fact, there was no discussion of any kind about Mr. Gardner’s request for counsel less than [24] hours earlier.”

Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Carol Crews said prosecutors agree that nothing Gardner said following his request for an attorney during his March 7 interview be used against him.

Crews argues that “the entirety” of the March 8 interview be permissible because Smith interviewed Gardner on this date at his request and followed CPD interviewing policy by re-Mirandizing him.

“However, the next morning, March 8, 2016, at the jail the Defendant saw the officer who transported him, Chris Derrick, and requested that Detective Smith come speak with him again,” she wrote in response to the defense’s motion. “[Smith] came to the jail shortly thereafter, and interviewed him again, after confirming that the Defendant had requested to speak with her and re-reading his Miranda rights and having him sign the form acknowledging those rights.”

Gardner is scheduled to appear in Faulkner County Circuit Court at 1 p.m. Nov. 7 so prosecutors and the defense cousel can bring any pending motions before the Circuit Judge Charles “Ed” Clawson Jr. prior to his two-week jury trial. His trial is set to begin Nov. 27.

 

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