ELKHORN — A judge says a Walworth County Fair worker’s confession is admissible in court in an alleged attack this summer on a woman leaving work in downtown Elkhorn.
Attorneys for Terrence Leflore, who is charged with attempted homicide, asked a judge to throw out the confession on the grounds that police interrogators used coercive tactics.
“This was not a voluntary confession,” defense attorney Mackenzie Renner said in court Dec. 6.
Walworth County District Judge Phillip Koss, however, ruled that Leflore’s confession and other statements to police could be used in prosecuting the attempted homicide case.
Koss said police questioning is inherently coercive, but that Elkhorn police detective Tom Bushey handled his questioning of Leflore properly.
“I don’t think the detective did anything wrong,” the judge said.
Leflore, 24, of Jackson, Mississippi, is being held at the county jail in connection with an attack that occurred against a 21-year-old woman on the night of Aug. 28.
According to prosecutors, Leflore was in town as a travelling carnival worker at the county fair when he attacked the woman while she was leaving work. He is accused of sexually assaulting her, hitting her with a hammer and fracturing her skull.
The woman survived, but doctors had to remove part of her skull to relieve pressure on her brain.
Charged with six felonies, Leflore could face more than 200 years in prison if convicted on all charges.
His attorneys with the state public defender’s office filed a motion to suppress his confession as evidence in the case. In court Dec. 6, Bushey took the stand and testified about his interrogation of Leflore once police had identified the county fair worker as a suspect.
Bushey testified that he never threatened Leflore or promised him anything in exchange for his cooperation in the investigation.
According to a criminal complaint issued a short time later, Leflore told police he planned to rob the victim, so he followed her as she walked to her car after leaving work. The complaint alleges that he also admitted to striking her with a hammer and to removing her clothes “to make it look like a rape.”
Renner argued that the confession was coerced because Bushey woke the suspect from sleep to question him in the county jail, and because the detective told Leflore prosecutors might show leniency if he cooperated with police.
Bushey also acknowledged that he interrupted the suspect many times while the suspect was trying to offer denials during one interview.
“Mr. Leflore was not allowed to talk unless he was confessing,” the defense attorney said.
District Attorney Zeke Wiedenfeld argued against throwing out the confession, telling the judge that all of Leflore’s statements to police were voluntary.
Wiedenfeld also pointed out that Leflore has a prior criminal record, so he is familiar with how police investigations work.
“This was not someone who was new to the criminal system,” Wiedenfeld said.