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The Daily Tar Heel

Questioned Evidence to Be Used in Trial

Though Edwards was denied a lawyer during interviews after his arrest, the judge will allow his statements as trial evidence.

The motions hearing concluded Thursday afternoon, granting prosecutor Jim Woodall clearance to use all materials gathered as evidence on Jan. 9, 2001, during the upcoming trial. Judge William Griffin set no trial date, but officials say it should take place in April.

The purpose of the motions hearing, which began Tuesday, was to determine whether certain evidence would be admitted in Edwards' trial.

Edwards is charged with multiple felony counts, including one rape and two sexual assaults, stemming from two December 2000 incidents in Carrboro and one incident in Chapel Hill in January 2001.

Griffin determined that police officials made the appropriate decision to procure evidence after a traffic stop where police officials targeted Edwards for having an expired registration sticker on his license plate.

"The officers, based on the totality of the circumstances, were warranted in making an investigatory stop of the defendant's vehicle," Griffin said during his ruling.

The materials discovered during this investigation include cream-colored gloves, a gun, a black toboggan and loose U.S. currency -- all items that officials have linked to one or more of the local sexual assaults. The judge also said he would permit the use of personal evidence such as blood samples collected from a body search conducted at UNC Hospitals shortly after Edwards' arrest.

In addition to deeming the traffic stop lawful, Griffin said statements made by Edwards to officials after his arrest will be fair game for the upcoming trial.

But Edwards' attorney, Steve Freedman, objected to the judge's ruling. He contested that Edwards was coerced by Chapel Hill and Carrboro investigators into making incriminating statements even after requesting a lawyer. Freedman entered two 45-minute videotapes of the interrogations as evidence Wednesday.

"I've watched this tape a number of times, and I don't see how you can say that statement is admissible after he requested a lawyer," Freedman said during his closing remarks.

But Griffin debunked Freedman's argument and used Edwards' testimony to seal his decision.

"Of course here we aren't dealing with an ignorant, uneducated person," Griffin told Freedman prior to issuing his ruling. "The defendant is college-educated, and authorities observed from his testimony is that he understands the situation he's in."

A final date should be set for Edwards' sexual assaults trial by next week. On Feb. 28, Edwards also will appear in the Orange County District Court in Hillsborough to be tried on crimes not directly tied to the sexual crimes.

The City Editor can be reachedat citydesk@unc.edu.

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