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Aleman v. Village of Hanover Park Shows Careless Police Work Can Ruin Lives

December 9, 2011
By The Law Offices of Vincent J. LaBarbera, Jr. on December 9, 2011 9:15 AM |

A recent case out of Illinois shows that when police are careless in their investigative techniques, a person's life can be flipped upside down and ruined.

In the case of Aleman v. Village of Hanover Park, it appears that is what has happened. And poor police work can happen anywhere, including Santa Ana and other areas of Southern California.
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Cases of murder in Fullerton are serious offenses that require the best representation possible. In many cases of homicide, police have a good idea who committed the crime. In others, however, they have no good evidence and fish for a confession.

Our Santa Ana criminal defense lawyers believe the latter is what happened in this horrible case. And, sadly, it led to a man being arrested, branded forever as a killer even though charges were later dropped after it became obvious the police didn't do their jobs right.

According to court records, Rick Aleman ran a day care and although it had only been operational for five months when the incident in question occurred in 2005, he had five children of his own. One of the children he watched was an 11-month-old boy.

On the September date in question, the boy's mother dropped him off that morning and the boy was lethargic and feverish. Not long after the boy was dropped off, he began gasping for air and collapsed. The man attempted CPR and called 911. The boy was rushed to the hospital via ambulance. He died four days later.

Not long after the ambulance was called, police were called to the house and asked the man and his wife to come to the police department. He was placed in an interrogation room for 45 minutes and asked if he could come back in an hour. He was told he couldn't and that he was under arrest.

Some five hours later, police finally entered the room and they told the suspect he had the "most information" to offer after they had spoken to many people about the incident. He said he wanted to call his lawyer, which should have stopped the questioning right there based on the man's rights.

But officers instead filled out a waiver of Miranda rights for the man to sign and told him he could call his lawyer, but he wanted him to sign the waiver of his rights. The man called his lawyer, during which an officer picked up the phone and talked to the attorney. The lawyer said the defendant would be invoking his right to remain silent, which the court ruled didn't count as an invocation of his rights because the man had to do it himself.

The man said he wanted to go home, but officers said he wouldn't be able to go home unless he talked to them. He asked to speak with his lawyer again and the police let him. He asked the lawyer to come to the station, but officers told him he needed to sit down and talk to them. The man said his lawyer gave him the right to talk, which the court wrote would be foolish.

After four hours of talking to the man, police told him doctors had said that he must have shaken the baby to cause its injuries. The man feebly confessed. He was initially charged with aggravated battery of a child. Later, he was charged with first-degree murder.

What didn't come out initially was that the mother had a criminal history, a past of violence and had been known to strike her child and say she wanted to kill him. Also what wasn't revealed was that a medical examiner ruled initially it was "highly unlikely" the man caused the injuries, but an investigator later lied to her, saying he was "behaving normally" when he arrived and she changed her opinion. Once learning the truth, she reinstated her first opinion.

The mother was barely investigated and one investigator told the mother not to speak to any other detectives about the case, despite his knowledge of her past and threats against her son. Within a year the charges were dropped, though the mother was never charged. The officers are the subject of a civil lawsuit filed by the man.

If you are facing murder charges in Orange County, contact the Law Offices of Vincent J. LaBarbera Jr. to discuss your options. With three decades of experience, Attorney LaBarbera has argued more than 200 criminal trials and appeals. Call (714) 541-9668 for a confidential appointment to discuss your rights.

More Blog Entries:

In State v. Allen, Santa Ana Murder Charges Collapse on Judge's Misconduct: November 20, 2011

People v. Vang Highlights Need For Aggressive, Attentive Santa Ana Criminal Defense Lawyer: November 10, 2011