Crime Time: Has Charlie Sheen said too much?

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Crime Time: Has Charlie Sheen said too much?

Fri Apr 16, 2010 @ 12:24PM PST

Our criminal courts columnist can relate to Charlie Sheen's apparent inability to control his mouth....

By Russell Wetanson

Sheen,charliemug Like a typical lawyer, I've been an annoying over-achiever since I was a kid. I won spelling bees, was no stranger to the honor roll, and turned in endless (and unnecessary) extra credit assignments. Although these achievements may not have won over my classmates' affection, I always was confident my teachers were on my side. Then came along Mr. Lee, my seventh grade pre-algebra teacher at Tucson's Carson Middle School. 

Mr. Lee hated me, but even he had no choice but to name me Student of the Month. At the awards assembly, which my parents attended, Mr. Lee sang my praises and said what any teacher would say about the best student ... for the most part. At the end of his speech, Mr. Lee bestowed upon me some special advice: "Russell, you are smart and a hardworking student, but you must work on your diarrhea of the mouth and constipation of the brain."

Thanks to Mr. Lee, I realize that I may have something in common with Charlie Sheen and one of the police officers involved in his Colorado felony domestic violence case -- a propensity for blabbering.

This week, several motions and subpoenas relating to Sheen's domestic violence case surfaced, and it's clear that Sheen's lawyer, Richard Cummins, hopes to reverse the effects of the actor's chatter.

As you'll recall, police responded to a report of domestic violence at the Aspen residence of Sheen and his wife, Brooke Mueller, on Christmas Day. In March, Sheen pleaded not guilty to a felony domestic violence charge, and his trial is set for July. Now it's time to simultaneously seek and suppress evidence for Sheen's defense.

In a motion to suppress custodial statements, Cummins argues that statements by Sheen (whose legal name remains "Carlos Irwin Estevez") in his own home are not admissible:

  • "Once in the residence, Mr. Estevez, pursuant to Officer's Magnuson's direction, went to the basement of the residence and was questioned by Officer Magnuson and made numerous statements."
  • "Officer Magnuson did not, prior to questioning Mr. Estevez, inform him of his rights pursuant to Miranda v. Arizona."
  • "Because a reasonable person in Mr. Estevez's situation would believe that he was not free to leave, Mr. Estevez was clearly in custody at the time he was questioned by Officer Magnuson."

The goal of the motion is clearly to erase potentially damaging statements before they make it into the record. At the same time, Sheen's lawyer is also doing his best to ensure that potentially helpful evidence will be remain available. In a separate motion, Cummins asks the court to order the Aspen Police Department to preserve a copy of videotape surveillance of alleged contact between Officer Valerie McFarlane and an editor of the Aspen Daily News. The motion contends:

  • "On February 26, 2010, Officer McFarlane left the employ of the Aspen police department under circumstances that call her character for truthfulness into question. The incident that gave rise to the termination of her employment was favorable treatment given an editor of the Aspen Daily News. The incident was captured by her squad car's surveillance camera."
  • "It is anticipated that Officer McFarlane will be a critical witness at trial vis-a-vis her contact with Ms. Mueller and Mr. Estevez's ability to legitimately call her credibility into question will be critical as well."

Translation: Cummins wishes that his client, who is no stranger to criminal proceedings, had spoken less and prays that Officer MacFarlane spoke too much.

Something tells me my seventh grade pre-algebra teacher would appreciate this legal equation, especially because it doesn't involve my talking. Of course, I also think he'd be most interested in solving Sheen's apparent constipation of the brain. I know I am.

Wetanson,russell Got a Crime Time question or comment? Reach Russell Wetanson at popsquire@gmail.com, follow him at twitter.com/popsquire and watch him on TV Guide Network and HLN. 

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