The judge presiding over suspected serial killer Bruce Mendenhall's upcoming trial on murder for hire charges has issued another order denying a defense request to suppress statements from early interactions between the Illinois truck driver and police.
Judge Steve Dozier released a 50-page order this week regarding whether or not a jury would be able to hear statements Mendenhall made in his first encounter with Metro Police detectives Pat Postiglione and Lee Freeman as they investigated the July 2007 murder of Sara Nicole Hulbert.
On July 12, 2007, Postiglione approached Mendenhall's yellow semi-truck at a truck stop because it resembled one seen on the day of Hulbert's disappearance. When talking with Mendenhall, the detective noticed blood inside the cabin. Following a search that produced bloody clothes and boots similar to the prints left at the crime scene, the suspect was taken into custody. While sitting in the police car with Postiglione, Mendenhall reportedly made unsolicited statements about the crimes, stating two men had been going around the country killing women at truck stops and framing him for the murders.
Defense attorneys argued in their suppression motion these comments should be barred from trial because the suspect had yet to be read his Miranda rights.
But Dozier's order says the conversations were valid despite the lack of a Miranda warning because they did not constitute a “custodial interrogation” and Mendenhall offered the information himself.
“[T]he Court accredits the detective's testimony that the Defendant initiated the discussion regarding the various truck stop killings and that the detective did not ask the Defendant questions about these alleged offenses,” the filing reads. “The police car interaction between the Defendant and Sergeant Postiglione was not coercive or designed explicitly to elicit incriminating statements from the Defendant,” the order later states.
In the murder for hire case, authorities claim that Mendenhall attempted to have police detectives and witnesses killed from behind bars in an attempt to damage the murder case against him.
He is scheduled to go on trial for solicitation of murder charges on Jan. 11.