Circuit Court Judge Christopher Brauer heard preliminary motions in the murder case of Charles Franklin Summerfield in Pendleton on Tuesday.
During the process of determining if some evidence would be allowed, the court heard interviews conducted by police with Summerfield on April 5, the evening James Macomb was shot and killed.
The motion in question, brought by defense attorneys Rob Raschio and John Olson, asked Brauer to determine if statements made by Summerfield on April 5 were coerced, or if Summerfield's Miranda rights were violated.
In the end, the judge ruled against the defense on both issues.
Brauer determined Summerfield's statements were not coerced, nor were his Miranda rights violated, thus allowing the state to have the opportunity to use those statements in the trial scheduled for Jan. 8, 2008.
In the process of making his decision, Brauer and the court heard the audio recordings of interviews conducted by Pendleton Police Det. Mike Loughary and watched video recordings from the squad car of Sgt. Ryan Lehnert, who arrested Summerfield.
District Attorney Dean Gushwa began by calling Loughary to testify about the way in which Summerfield was interviewed on April 5.
Loughary said he interviewed Summerfield in a room at the Pendleton Police Department around 8 p.m. He conducted two interviews with Summerfield: One 20-minute interview at 8 p.m. and another five-minute interview at 9:40 p.m. Loughary described the interviews as calm.
"We were carrying on a conversation," he said. "The tone was about like it is today."
Loughary said he read Summerfield his Miranda rights prior to turning on the recording device. He also said Lehnert had Mirandized Summerfield when Summerfield was arrested earlier that evening. Loughary said Summerfield did not ask for an attorney, nor did he say he was opposed to speaking about the shooting.
Loughary also provided Summerfield with water to drink and opportunities to use the bathroom, he said.
Gushwa then played the two interviews that were recorded on a CD and played to the court through a laptop computer and speaker system.
Summerfield's speech in the audio recordings was slightly slurred in the audio recordings, but video later showed he did not sway or fall when he was escorted to the police cruiser. The video also recorded Lehnert reading Miranda rights to Summerfield.
In the first recorded interview, Summerfield said he'd known Macomb for six or seven years and had met him through Summerfield's girlfriend.
The shooting took place on a Thursday. On the preceding Monday, Summerfield said he had picked up Macomb from Meacham and was letting him stay at his trailer in the Catalpa Tree RV Park. He described himself and Macomb as "great friends."
But on April 5, Summerfield said the two got in an argument.
"He threatened me," Summerfield's voice said on the recording. "I told him to shut up and get out. He said, 'you can't put me out.' He said he'd come after me. He said 'don't get your shotgun.' I said 'yes I will.' He came after me and I shot 'em."
On the same recording, Loughary asked Summerfield why they had been arguing.
"Just drunk," Summerfield said.
When Loughary pressed again as to why Summerfield shot Macomb, Summerfield repeated his story.
"He just came at me!" Summerfield's voice cried during the recording. "He came at me, his hands out like this. He says, 'I'll kill you, break you up or something.' "
Summerfield said he told Macomb not to take another step. He ran to his bedroom to get his shotgun and he said Macomb kept coming after him. So Summerfield grabbed his shotgun and pulled the trigger, the interview revealed.
Afterward, Summerfield said on the recording he asked his girlfriend to call the police.
"I said call 9-1-1," his voice said. "I'm not gonna run from it. I know what I did. I was protecting myself."
Between the two interviews, police conducted a blood alcohol test and revealed Summerfield had a blood alcohol level of .21. The legal limit is .08.
However, Gushwa argued the blood alcohol level did not matter because it didn't speak to Summerfield's personal tolerance to alcohol and ability to function. Brauer overruled Gushwa's objections.
In the second interview, Loughary asked Summerfield how much he had to drink that day. Summerfield couldn't recall specifically how many drinks, but described it as "normal." Through the course of the interview, Summerfield admitted to drinking at least five drinks of whisky and maybe 10 drinks of vodka.
As far as his drinking habits, Summerfield said on the recording he would sometimes go several weeks without drinking or sometimes go on binges, drinking daily.
Loughary said in court he was trying to ascertain Summerfield's drinking habits to see if he was impaired that evening.
Along with Summerfield's slurred speech, Loughary testified Summerfield smelled of alcohol during the interview.
When Olson cross-examined Loughary, he asked whether Loughary believed Summerfield's "mental function" had been diminished by his alcohol intake on April 5.
Loughary said it was difficult to tell, as he did not know Summerfield's alcohol tolerance.
"It can affect numerous things depending on the person," Loughary said. "Each individual reacts differently."
He also said Summerfield appeared to understand what was going on during the interview.
"He seemed to grasp what I was asking," Loughary said. "A few questions took longer than maybe a younger person who's brain process is quicker."
When Olson asked if Loughary believed Summerfield's judgment was impaired, he said: "Obviously his judgment was impaired. He shot somebody."
During the preliminary hearing Brauer also made rulings on various other motions made by the defense, including allowing only certain "bad acts" to be admissible as arguments.
Summerfield was present for the day-long hearing. The 69-year-old looked rather small - standing just over five feet tall - while being escorted in and out of the courtroom by two deputies.
In previous hearings, Raschio had argued Summerfield needed a nutritionist because of his dramatic loss of weight during his time in the Umatilla County Jail. When he was arrested, Summerfield weighed 135 pounds. His weight dropped to 106 pounds by August.
Raschio said Summerfield had been accustomed to a diet of primarily eating game meat - animals he had killed himself. The drastic change to processed foods in the jail jolted Summerfield's system.
He was so ill he was unable to attend prior court proceedings.
With the help of a nutritionist, which began in August, Summerfield's weight is now up to 119 pounds.