Posey trial begins — (Alamogordo Daily News)

Original article no longer available

Alamogordo Daily News

BY MICHAEL SHINABERY, STAFF WRITER

Jan 12, 2006, 06:00 pm

On Court TV this morning a psychologist announced that Cody Posey, 14, was on Zoloft when he killed his parents and sister.  Posey started taking Zoloft April 20, 2004 and committed the murders on July 5th.

District Judge James Waylon Counts denied a defense motion on Wednesday to suppress a videotaped confession which murder defendant Cody Posey made to investigators in July 2004.

Posey, 16, faces three counts of murder. He is also charged with four counts of tampering with evidence for allegedly hiding the bodies after he allegedly killed his father, Delbert Paul Posey, his stepmother Tryone, and his 13-year-old stepsister in July 2004.

During the pre-trial hearing, defense lawyer Gary Mitchell argued Posey, then 14, lacked the maturity to have knowingly waived his constitutional rights during interrogation, even after investigators read Posey his Miranda rights on two occasions.

During that interrogation, Posey did not have a defense lawyer present.

Delbert Posey was manager of ABC newsman Sam Donaldson’s Lincoln County ranch, where the three were killed.

The focus of Wednesday’s testimony was whether Posey was mature enough to have waived his rights.

Senior Trial Prosecutor Sandra Grisham described Posey’s actions as calculating and methodical.

Mitchell, though, painted a picture of the boy as socially isolated, and emotionally and physically abused. He said Tryone Posey called him names and slapped him. Testimony revealed Tryone kept a journal and even wrote how she called him “stupid” and how Posey then cried afterwards.

Mitchell said Posey described how his father choked him and threw rocks at him. The father, Mitchell said, hit him as far back as age 7 — and that there had been a Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department investigation into child abuse as a result.

Over years, Mitchell alluded the stress built up until Posey snapped.

Posey’s uncle, Verlin Posey, testified that his nephew was trusted to do chores unsupervised, something he characterized as typical of the higher maturity of children who grow up on a ranch.

“He was mature enough to get up in the morning with an alarm,” he said, testifying for the state.

Psychologist Dr. Wade Myers, who also testified on behalf of the state, called Posey “advanced beyond the average 14-year-old.”

Emotionally, Myers said, Posey maintained friendships, had a girlfriend, and he got along with coaches and teachers.

Myers said Posey’s IQ is 115 and that the defendant scored above average on standardized tests.

It was such maturity, Grisham stated, with which Posey committed the murders and followed through with his subsequent actions.

She said during the investigators’ taped interview, Posey described how he took a revolver from his parents’ residence, removed the snakeshot because he “didn’t think it would do the job,” and replaced it with .38-caliber ammunition.

Grisham said Posey knew Sam Donaldson would not be at the ranch that day, and that he admitted killing Tryone Posey first because she would have called 911. He fired two shots, the second “just to make sure I got her,” Grisham said.

Because he had to pull back the hammer before each shot, Grisham said that indicated Posey was using “a thought process.”

The thinking continued, she said, when Posey chose to hide behind a refrigerator and ambush his father and step-sister in the kitchen. She said Posey told investigators he shot the girl twice “so she wouldn’t go and tell.”

Grisham then detailed how Posey described hiding the bodies, and how he broke a window with an axe to simulate an intruder breaking and entering.

“Are those the actions — the normal actions — of a (14) year old?” Grisham asked Myers.

Myers answered that “various elements of the crime show a pretty high sophistication.” But he also admitted under Mitchell’s cross-examination that Posey had possibly suffered from depression, for which he took medication.

The defense’s psychologists described an even deeper suffering. Dr. Christine Johnson said she found Posey had experienced emotional and psychological abuse, and had suffered a “major depression” and post-traumatic stress syndrome from being in a car accident in which his mother was killed. Posey was then 10.

“I got the impression he was often walking on egg shells to stay out of trouble at home,” Johnson said.

Dr. Susan Cave said she believed Posey was “physically, emotionally and possibly sexually abused as a child. … His life was very strictly and rigidly controlled and limited.”

According to Mitchell, Posey’s parents controlled him because they did not allowed him to socialize after school. Except for two weeks where he played basketball, and two Knowledge Bowls he participated in, he never went to a sports or other school function. His parents took Posey to school and picked him up.

“Everyday he’d come to school he’d be sad,” 15-year-old Gilbert Salcido, a school friend of Posey’s, testified.

The friend said he and others would cheer Posey up, but that the sadness returned when school ended and Posey walked out to his parents’ vehicle.

“I think the physical and emotional abuse was something he endured,” Cave said. “He was carrying around a tremendous family secret.”

Mitchell said if Posey is convicted, he would likely appeal Counts’ ruling regarding the taped confession.

“It will be an issue,” Mitchell said. “I don’t anticipate he’s going to be convicted and I don’t anticpate at all that the jury is going to convict this young man of first or second degree murder. I think they’re going to allow us to be treated as a child and if he gets treated as a child obviously he’ll be acquitted, as he should be.”

Jury selection began this morning and could run through Friday afternoon.

Posey’s trial starts on Jan. 17.

Ellis Neel/Daily News
Listening to the prosecution — Cody Posey, left, and his court-appointed attorney Gary Mitchell, right, listen as senior prosecutor Sandra Grisham describes the murder scene during a motions hearing Wednesday in Twelfth Judicial District Judge James Waylon Counts’ courtroom. Posey is charged with the July 2004 murders of his father, Delbert Posey; his stepmother, Tryone Posey; and his stepsister Mary Lee Schmid. Their bodies were found in a shallow grave on the grounds of ABC newsman Sam Donaldson’s Chavez Canyon Ranch near Hondo, N.M. Posey was 14 at the time of the killings.

Ellis Neel/Daily News
HE WAS THE SMARTEST KID IN CLASS — Gilbert Salcido, a witness in Cody Posey’s motions hearing, takes the stand and answers questions about his friendship with Cody Poser Wednesday in 12th Judicial District Judge James Waylon Counts’ courtroom.

Ellis Neel/Daily News