- Lauren Pack Staff Writer
A hearing to suppress statements made by a Hamilton teenager charged with allegedly shooting her father to death will not happen until next year.
The teen, now 15, appeared in Butler County Juvenile Court today for the scheduled hearing. Her defense attorney Matthew Fritsch says the girl’s constitutional rights were violated during questioning while she was in police custody.
But late Friday, Fritsch also filed additional motions, including one to have his client undergo a psychological evaluation before the hearing and another to bar media from that hearing.
“The psychological assessment is being requested for purposes of allowing a licensed clinical psychologist to assess the defendant in order to determine any exculpatory evidence and expert testimony to be offered at suppression hearing,” Fritsch wrote in the motion.
Butler County Juvenile Court Judge Kathleen Roman’s granted the motions and continued the hearing until Jan. 12. But the judge was very clear that if the defense chose the psychologist for the evaluation, they would pay for that expense.
In the motion for closure of the hearing to media coverage, Fritsch argued, “Defendant seeks to exclude the media from the courtroom during any and all pre-trial hearings where evidence is being presented or argued by counsel. The defense is seeking to suppress certain evidence that may, or may not, end up being excluded at the trial in this matter. Regardless of the outcome, if the media were permitted to attend and cover these evidentiary hearings, public dissemination of the subject matter completely defeats the purpose of suppression hearing and taints the prospective jury pool.”
Romans set a hearing for the same January date to permit media outlets to present evidence opposing the closure.
On Feb. 23, the girl, then a high school freshman, picked up a 9 mm handgun, loaded it and shot her 71-year-old father, James Ponder, in the head at their Millville Avenue home, according to police and prosecutors.
“I just shot my dad,” she told 911 dispatchers in a call placed moments after the shooting. She was arrested on the driveway of the family home when police arrived.
In the motion to suppress her statements, Fritsch said, “Defendant has had no prior experiences with Miranda warnings. During the interrogation, the defendant indicates that she has never heard of Miranda warnings and has never seen it on any television shows. The defendant also indicates that she does not know what it means to remain silent.”
The defense attorney said his client twice asked to talk to speak with her mother during the first 15 minutes of being interrogated.
The Journal-News is not naming the teen because she is charged as a juvenile.
The girl is free on bond that was posted last month. She was housed in the Butler County Juvenile Detention Center for seven months until her mother posted the bond.
No motive for the shooting has been offered.
Prosecutors had requested the teen be tried as an adult, but Romans ruled the teen’s case will remain in juvenile court.