Tuesday, August 07, 2001

Statements at issue in poison-attempt case

        A Hamilton County Juvenile Court magistrate could decide this month whether statements made to police by four girls accused of trying to poison their teacher will be admitted at trial.

        Their attorneys contend the sixth-graders did not understand that they didn't have to speak to police or could have had an attorney present during interviews with police.

        The girls, who are not being named because of their ages, are accused of pouring liquid drain cleaner into their teacher's water bottle. The incident occurred in May at Oyler Elementary in Lower Price Hill.

        The teacher, Nancy Wyenandt, did not drink from the bottle, but put it in a refrigerator. Police said the girls retrieved the bottle from the refrigerator, poured out the contents and threw it away.

        During a five-hour hearing Monday, Magistrate Elizabeth Igoe heard testimony from a child psychologist who said that one of the girls has a learning disability that inhibited her ability to understand her constitutional rights.

        One of the interviewing officers, Cincinnati Police Officer James Robb, testified that all the girls said they understood their rights.

        He said school administrators did not tell him — and he did not ask — whether any of the girls had problems that might impair their understandings of their constitutional rights.

        The case returns to court before Magistrate Igoe Aug. 29.


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