Tuesday, April 18, 2000

Letter delays murder trial

Defendant says document forged

BY Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The murder trial of a teen-ager was delayed Monday while authorities analyze a letter carrying his signature that places him at the scene of the crime.

        Prosecutors are seeking analysis of the letter, which is a second written account of the beating death of an Evanston man on Christmas Eve 1998.

        The letter bears the signature of the defendant, Julius Evans, 16, though he says he didn't write it. The letter was addressed to a friend who is also in the Hamilton County Justice Center. Prosecutors say he did write it, but asked the coroner's office to conduct fingerprint and handwriting tests to make sure.

        In the letter, the writer admits to being at the beating of Robert Hicks, who was attacked as he walked along Fernside Avenue, said Timothy Cutcher, Mr. Evans' attorney. But he said the letter also adds, “I didn't kill the dude.”

        It is the second significant written document to surface in the case.

        Mr. Evans was charged in the beating death after he wrote an essay while he was being held at Hillcrest School on unrelated charges. A counselor at the school had urged him to write about his criminal past.

        Mr. Cutcher says his client should have been given the standard Miranda warning against self-incrimination before writing the essay, He said the Hillcrest counselor pressured Mr. Evans, then 15, to write it and assured him it was essential to his release.

        Common Pleas Judge David Davis ruled that the essay can be part of the case.

        Mr. Cutcher cannot appeal that decision until after the trial, rescheduled for June 26.

        The second letter surfaced last week. It was sent to a friend of Mr. Evans who is awaiting trial on charges of aggravated robbery and, Mr. Cutcher pointed out, forgery.


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