Lenchick interviews could be suppressed

Defense attorneys for Brenda Holly Lyons-Lenchick and Joseph Anthony Lenchick, the Castleton couple facing child abuse and cruelty charges, filed a motion to suppress the interviews of the couple conducted by Capt. J.C. Welch of the Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Office on the grounds that Welch didn’t read either suspect their Miranda rights before interviewing them.

Brenda Lyons-Lenchick
Brenda Lyons-Lenchick

After hearing five hours of testimony and arguments Monday afternoon (Dec. 17) in Rappahannock County Circuit Court, Judge John J. McGrath decided to continue the case to Dec. 28. Lyons-Lenchick is also charged with attempted murder for allegedly trying to starve the couple’s infant son to death.

Trial has not yet been scheduled on any of the felony charges against the couple, who have been in  Rappahannock County Jail since June.

Both Welch and Sheriff Connie Smith testified that the policy handbook for the RCSO deals with the issuance of Miranda rights; according to the handbook, suspects must always be informed of their Miranda rights before they’re interrogated.

Welch said he received an email Feb. 22 concerning that week’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in Howes vs. Fields. That ruling declared that investigators didn’t have to read Miranda rights to inmates during jailhouse interrogations about crimes unrelated to their current incarceration.

Joseph Anthony Lenchick
Joseph Anthony Lenchick

Welch said he interviewed each suspect twice; Lyons, 39, is charged is with child abuse and neglect and attempted capital murder. She was first interviewed in the morning hours of May 23, after being arrested the day before. During that interview, which was recorded and is scheduled to be played in its entirety when the case resumes Dec. 28, Welch said Lyons confessed to him that she had intentionally tried to kill her then-three-month-old baby by starving him.

Welch said he was “shocked” by the admission, ended the interview and consulted Commonwealth’s Attorney Art Goff. During that discussion, Welch said Goff informed him he had made a mistake in not reading Lyons her Miranda rights.

Welch said he believed the Howes vs. Fields ruling meant he didn’t have to read either Lyons or Lenchick their Miranda rights prior to interviewing them. Welch said he did, however, inform both suspects (who were interviewed separately) that they did not have to speak to him and were free to return to their cell at any time.

“I made a mistake,” Welch told McGrath.

Peter Hansen, the defense attorney for Lyons-Lenchick, and Lenchick’s attorney Kirk Milam petitioned the judge to suppress both interviews with the suspects. McGrath said he wanted to hear the original interviews before making a decision, and scheduled that opportunity for Dec. 28.

Marijuana-related arrests

On Saturday, Dec. 8, Richard Warren Early II, a 28-year-old resident of Amissville, was charged with possession of marijuana. Early was the passenger of a vehicle that was stopped for having defective equipment by Deputy Lee Settle on Zachary Taylor Highway (U.S. 522) near Mountain View Road. Settle and his police canine, Bear, recovered an undisclosed amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia police said belonged to Early. He is scheduled to appear Jan. 15 in Rappahannock County General District Court.

Last Thursday (Dec. 13), Settle stopped a vehicle on Lee Highway and recovered an undisclosed amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Craig Houston Pierce, 21, of Warrenton, was charged with possession of marijuana. His district court hearing is Jan. 15.