CARRBORO [NC] -- The chief of the Carrboro Police Department claims that a controversial plan to trick Andrew Douglas Dalzell into confessing by using a fake arrest warrant and fake threatening letter was approved in advance by Orange-Chatham District Attorney Carl Fox.
Fox denies it, saying he discussed some parts of the plan but did not know the officer would write a letter saying Dalzell would be tried for his life if he didn't confess.
Chief Carolyn Hutchison issued an open letter Thursday that restates the department's claims that Lt. John Lau discussed his plan to use the fake documents with Fox before putting it into action.
"Precisely because I knew at the inception of the plan that our plan presented complex legal issues and might be controversial, I directed Lt. John Lau to meet directly with District Attorney Carl Fox to discuss the plan and the legal issues surrounding it before we decided to move forward with the plan and implementation," Hutchison said in the letter.
The plan that Lau came up with was to convince Dalzell that he was being arrested for the first-degree murder of Deborah Leigh Key, who disappeared from Carrboro in 1997, when in fact he was being arrested for stealing items from a hobby store. Lau showed him a fake warrant charging him with Key's murder and also showed him a fake letter purported to be from Fox that said Dalzell would face the death penalty unless he immediately told officers where Key's body was.
Saying he did not want to die, Dalzell confessed later that day. Carrboro police then charged him with second-degree murder.
On Monday, Superior Court Judge Wade Barber ruled that Dalzell's oral and written confessions were inadmissible in court because Carrboro police violated his rights by interrogating him before they gave him his Miranda rights. He also ruled they violated North Carolina criminal procedure laws by not telling Dalzell why he was being arrested, by not taking him promptly to a magistrate and by denying him the right to consult with an attorney or friends before talking to the officers.