Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Lawyers: Disregard statement to police

Chapman charged in 2 deaths

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

WARSAW, Ky. - Lawyers for Marco Allen Chapman, charged in last August's home invasion attack that left two children dead and their mother and a sister seriously wounded, want the court to disregard Mr. Chapman's statement to police, saying he was not read his rights.

At a brief hearing Monday, Circuit Judge Jay Bamberger agreed to hear the defense attorneys' motion for suppression of the statement on Feb. 24.

Both sides also may seek a change of venue. The case has received extensive publicity in this small Ohio River community 46 miles southwest of Cincinnati.

"I'd say there's a very good probability (that defense lawyers) will be seeking a change of venue," said public defender John Delaney of Covington. He is being assisted by Jim Gibson, who handles death penalty cases for the public advocacy office in Frankfort. "It's a small county and there's been lots of pretrial publicity."

At the hearing, Mr. Delaney told the judge that his client, who has pleaded not guilty, was not given a Miranda warning before he talked to the sheriff's deputies in West Virginia who apprehended him on the day of the killings.

Mr. Delaney said he found no indication of a Miranda warning in Mr. Chapman's 77-page statement to West Virginia authorities.

The transcript has not been made public.

Could face death penalty

Mr. Chapman faces the death penalty if convicted. He is charged with two counts each of murder and attempted murder and one count each of rape, robbery, burglary and being a persistent felony offender.

The 31-year-old Union man is charged in the deaths of Chelbi Sharon, 7, and her brother, Cody Sharon, 6. Their sister, Courtney Sharon, 10 at the time, was cut on her face near her ear.

The children's mother, Carolyn Marksberry, who survived 15 stab wounds and crawled to a neighbor's home for help, sat with family members and a victim's advocate during Monday's eight-minute hearing.

Mrs. Marksberry, who has not attended previous court proceedings, gripped her husband's arm during the hearing and stared at the man accused of killing her children. She later declined to comment.

Drawing strength

Commonwealth Attorney Linda Tally Smith described Mrs. Marksberry as "a very strong person" who has drawn strength from her surviving daughter and other family members.

"I don't think there's a predictable response or a predictable healing process in circumstances like these," Ms. Smith said after Monday's hearing. "Carolyn's an amazing woman. ... She is the most resilient woman I've ever met in my life.

"As far as physically, she and Courtney are doing great," Ms. Smith said. "I think that Carolyn's strength is drawn from the fact that Courtney needs her very much."

Because Gallatin County has no jail, Mr. Chapman is being held in the Carroll County Regional Detention Center under $50 million bond.

Clad in a bright orange jumpsuit with his hands and ankles shackled, he said nothing at his court appearance Monday, and he did not make eye contact with Mrs. Marksberry and her husband, Chuck.

As in Mr. Chapman's previous court appearances, security was tight at the Gallatin County Courthouse on Monday.

Visitors had to go through a metal detector, and everyone had to remain seated while the Mr. Chapman was escorted in and out of the packed courtroom.

E-mail cschroeder@enquirer.com

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