Worcester Telegram & Gazette (MA)
December 19, 1998
Author: Gary V. Murray; TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
WORCESTER – A Superior Court judge has ordered the suppression of a lengthy statement murder suspect Paul H. LeClair allegedly made to police concerning the fatal stabbing of his wife. LeClair, 41, of 38 J. Davis Road, Charlton, is charged with murder and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, a knife, in the Jan. 4 stabbing death of 36-year-old Pamela J. LeClair, his wife of 13 years, in the couple’s home.
A relative of the victim said Mrs. LeClair had been ordered out of the house by her husband and that the stabbing occurred after Mrs. LeClair returned to the home to retrieve her two sons. LeClair is being held without bail. His trial is scheduled for Jan. 5 in Worcester Superior Court.
James J. Gribouski, LeClair’s lawyer, filed a motion to suppress as evidence against his client any statements LeClair made to police and any physical evidence obtained as a result of the statements.
The basis for the motion was that the statements were obtained in violation of LeClair’s constitutional rights and that the physical evidence was seized as a direct result of the illegally obtained statements.
After a three-day hearing on the motion, Judge Patrick F. Brady issued a ruling Wednesday suppressing a detailed statement LeClair allegedly gave to State Troopers Robert J. Ferraro and Robert W. Hart in which he was said to have acknowledged stabbing his wife.
Brady declined to suppress two earlier statements by LeClair, one to Charlton Police Sgt. Robert Danforth and the other to a relative on the telephone, in which he allegedly said he stabbed his wife. The judge also refused to suppress physical evidence seized by investigators, including a letter from LeClair to his wife.
Brady based his suppression of the statement to the troopers on a finding that questioning occurred hours after LeClair admitted to Danforth that he stabbed his wife, but then told the sergeant he did not think he should say anything more without consulting a lawyer.
Brady rejected arguments by Assistant District Attorney Joseph T. Moriarty Jr. that the statement taken by Ferraro and Hart was legally obtained because LeClair’s earlier comments about a lawyer were “ambiguous” and because it was LeClair who initiated further discussions with police.
According to Moriarty, Ferraro and Hart, who advised LeClair of his so-called Miranda rights before questioning him, were under the impression that LeClair had not invoked his right to remain silent or his right to counsel before they met with him.
Although police learned of the letter from LeClair to his wife as a result of the questioning by Ferraro and Hart, Brady declined to suppress it as evidence, saying its discovery was “inevitable” given the scope of the search warrant obtained by investigators.
Gribouski also raised the issue of the voluntariness of LeClair’s statements. Brady found that LeClair had been “suffering from depression for some time before Jan. 4, 1998, and was taking antidepressant medication” but that this “did not affect his cognitive abilities.”
District Attorney John J. Conte said yesterday his office was considering an appeal of Brady’s decision.