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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, April 23, 2010

Police statement can't be used in Big Island man's trial, appeals court rules

Advertiser staff writer

A statement to police by a man accused in a Big Island killing can't be used as evidence in his long-delayed trial, a state appeals court has ruled.

The decision was issued by the state Intermediate Court of Appeals this week in the case of Marwan Jackson, charged with the 2005 fatal beating of his pregnant girlfriend.

The victim, Sarah Fay, 34, was left brain-dead as a result of the Nov. 25, 2005, assault but was kept on life support for nearly a month until her baby could be safely delivered.

Jackson was indicted for second-degree murder, first−degree sexual assault, kidnapping and violation of a restraining order that Fay had obtained a year earlier to keep the man away from her.

The appellate decision upheld an earlier ruling by Big Island Circuit Judge Greg K. Nakamura suppressing a statement made by Jackson after he had been arrested, refused to speak with police and asked for a lawyer.

After his arrest, police served a warrant on Jackson authorizing them to photograph the suspect and take fingernail clippings. During that process, according to Hawai'i Police Department detective Gregory Esteban, Jackson "asked out loud to no one in particular, 'What am I being charged for?'"

Esteban, who has since been promoted to lieutenant, told Jackson, "You're not being charged for anything right now but what we're investigating is serious enough that you may spend the rest of your life in prison."

Esteban said Jackson then became upset and said "something to the effect of, 'The rest of my life? I'm only 24. I'm a young man. How can I spend the rest of my life in prison just for fighting with my wife?'"

Jackson then said, "We were just fighting. She hit me two times. The second time she hit me in the head, I just lost it," according to Esteban's report.

Judge Nakamura ruled, and the Intermediate Court of Appeals confirmed in a 2-1 decision, that Jackson's statement could not be used against him because it was made under circumstances that violated Jackson's Miranda rights against self-incrimination.