HONOLULU (KHON2) — Juan Baron, who confessed to killing a 73-year-old man and encasing him in concrete, wants that confession thrown out.
Baron’s family has hired a private attorney who said Baron should have been provided an interpreter because English is his second language.
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The 23-year-old murder suspect was back in court for what was supposed to be a bail hearing but his attorney asked the judge to hold off on that. Attorney Kyle Dowd said he wants to review the evidence and challenge the confession Baron made to detectives with the Los Angeles Police Department.
“It’s our understanding that it was taken from him without the benefit of an interpreter and English is his second language. He is from Colombia so his primary language is Spanish,” said Dowd.
Baron was captured in LA in March after the body of Gary Ruby was found buried in concrete in his bathtub. Court records said Baron confessed to choking Ruby and then covered him in concrete. His attorney said he’s also looking at other factors that would make the confession not admissible in court.
“External factors that could have created pressure on him to speak with the police in terms of some, potentially a medical service that was not being given to him unless and until he did the statement first, but we’ll look at that as well,” said Dowd.
Legal experts said a judge will likely review the transcripts of the confession to see if Baron understands English enough for that confession to be allowed as evidence.
“If you have somebody who keeps asking, ‘I don’t understand that, can you repeat that? I don’t know what you’re talking about.’ Well that would be a flag potentially that the person doesn’t actually have a good understanding of what’s being said to them,” said Doug Chin, a former Honolulu deputy prosecutor.
Chin added that the Hawaii Supreme Court is very strict about making sure that a confession is done voluntarily. But even if the confession is thrown out, there’s other evidence that could still put him on trial.
“A confession is always very very helpful to the prosecution of a case but there are plenty of cases that get proven against criminals who are charged with a crime without any sort of confession,” said Chin.
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Baron remains in custody and faces murder and theft charges.