Confession can be used, judge rules

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 16, 2001

[02/16/01] Prosecutors won approval Thursday to use a murder defendant’s own words when he goes on trial in March.

Warren County Circuit Judge Isadore Patrick, after two days of testimony, ruled that James Sanders’ statement was voluntarily given, not coerced by Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace or other investigators.

Saturday will be the first anniversary of the day Sanders, 23, of Florence, is accused of robbing and killing Paul Moore, who was 23 when shot to death.

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Moore’s body was found three weeks later, on March 12, off Gowall Road in Warren County. On the next day, Sanders and his younger half-brother, Greg Sanders, then 17, were arrested.

Greg Sanders pleaded guilty as an accessory a month later, was given a suspended sentence and is expected to testify in James Sanders’ trial for murder and armed robbery starting March 26.

In the motion, Sanders’ attorney Eugene Perrier argues that his client was denied an attorney before being questioned and that Sanders was coerced into making a confession.

Pace and Rankin County Sheriff Ken Dickerson testified that no promises were made and that Sanders voluntarily waived his right to an attorney and voluntarily gave a statement.

“The court finds this was a free and voluntary statement and an intelligent waiver of rights to counsel,” Patrick said.

In an earlier decision, District Attorney Gil Martin did not seek an indictment against Sanders for capital murder, which carries the possibility of the death penalty even though the combination of murder and armed robbery can carry that penalty.

Greg Sanders testified in April he was walking in front of Moore along the rural road when James Sanders pulled a 9 mm pistol and shot Moore in the head.

The three grew up together and were known to be friends. Authorities have not disclosed a motive other than robbery.