BROOKSVILLE — In a pivotal hearing two weeks before the start of trial, defense attorneys for a 35-year-old Brooksville man accused in the grisly slayings of an elderly Masaryktown couple are aiming to suppress statements he made to detectives before his arrest.
Robert Jardin faces two counts of first-degree murder, armed robbery, armed burglary and grand theft for his role in the October 2006 stabbing deaths of Patrick and Evelyn DePalma at their home.
His trial is set to start on Aug. 23. If convicted, Jardin could be sentenced to death.
Attorneys in the case met in Circuit Judge Jack Springstead's court Wednesday to debate whether Jardin was properly informed of his Miranda rights before making statements to detectives during an interview at the Hernando County Sheriff's Office in July 2008.
Jardin went to the Sheriff's Office after being summoned there by deputies, who told him that he was a suspect in a bar fight. As the interview went on, however, authorities began to quiz him about details of the DePalma murders.
Jardin insisted that he had not been to the DePalmas' home but had heard about the crime in news reports.
According to court documents, Jardin later conceded he was at the home that night and saw them lying dead in the hallway, yet he made no comments about his involvement in their deaths.
Jardin's attorney, public defender Alan Fanter, filed a motion requesting the court withhold those statements because authorities didn't make it clear to his client that the interview had shifted from a voluntary meeting to an "in-custody" interrogation.
In a video of the interview, Jardin told detectives that he was ready to go following nearly four hours of interrogation and a voice stress analysis test.
"I'm done," Jardin said. "I want to go home."
Jardin then asked if he was going to be charged with a crime. The detectives said yes, and Jardin responded that he "better go hire a lawyer."
Assistant State Attorney Pete Magrino argued that Jardin had been advised of his rights earlier in the interview and waived them.
At one point during the video, Springstead asked bailiffs to stop the DVD and asked Magrino: "How many times does he have to say that he wants to stop before they stop? ... It certainly appears to the court that he's not free to go."
But Springstead held off on issuing a ruling on the motion, saying that he would decide no earlier than Friday.
Joel Anderson can be reached at email@example.com or (352) 754-6120.