By Bobby Bordelon\r\n\r\nThe trial admissibility of a statement potentially containing a confession could be denied in the first degree murder case against Edward Smith-Allen. In his initial police interview, Smith-Allen said \u2018I do want a lawyer,\u2019 but was never afforded one. According to the defense, this violates several of Smith-Allen\u2019s constitutional rights, including the right to an attorney. However, the state argues that the phrase was a question, asking if he could have an attorney in the court proceedings after the interview if he agreed to be interviewed by police without a lawyer.\r\n\r\nSmith-Allen was indicted for the murder of Alaisia M. Smith, a local Greenbrier East High School student, in October 2019. Smith passed away as a result of gunshot wounds received in Dorie Miller Park in June 2019. Previously, Smith-Allen was denied bond and the case was divided into two phases, one for the trial and one for potential sentencing if he is found guilty.\r\n\r\nOn Friday, July 31, under Judge Jennifer Dent, the Greenbrier County Circuit Court virtually heard arguments around the admissibility of Smith-Allen\u2019s June 8 statement to police following his initial arrest. Although the content of the statement was not examined during the Friday hearing, the state\u2019s motion points to its potential trial importance.\r\n\r\n\u201cThis statement incriminates the defendant and amounts to a confession of at least some of the criminal conduct with which [he] is charged,\u201d reads the state motion. \u201cThe state seeks to use this statement against the defendant in the trial of this case.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe Friday hearing included testimony from Sergent David Eggleston of the Lewisburg Police Department, who conducted the interview. Eggleston, as part of his investigation into the case, reached Smith-Allen over the phone and asked him to come into the station on June 8, the day after the shooting.\r\n\r\n\u201cYou informed Mr. Smith-Allen that you need to talk to him,\u201d defense attorney Kristopher Faerber asked during the cross-examination.\r\n\r\n\u201cYes sir,\u201d responded Eggleston.\r\n\r\n\u201cYou initiated that conversation.\u201d\r\n\r\n\u201cYes sir.\u201d\r\n\r\n\u201cAt that point in time, you had obtained a criminal complaint and an arrest warrant for Mr. Smith-Allen.\u201d\r\n\r\n\u201cYes sir.\u201d\r\n\r\n\u201cYou tell him that when you talked to him around 11 a.m.?\u201d\r\n\r\n\u201cNo, sir, I do not believe I did.\u201d\r\n\r\n\u201cDid you only say you wanted to talk to him?\u201d\r\n\r\n\u201cYes sir.\u201d\r\n\r\nSmith-Allen arrived at the police station later that day, and Eggleston began the interview by searching him and reading him his rights. The defense\u2019s motion to revoke the statement\u2019s admissibility comes down to one moment:\r\n\r\n\u201cMr. Smith Allen is looking at the [Miranda rights] form he\u2019s being asked to sign and it says \u2018I do not want a lawyer.\u2019 His immediate response is \u2018I do want a lawyer,\u2019\u201d explained Faerber. \u201c\u2026 Then Officer Eggleston [continues the interview], he doesn\u2019t stop and say \u2018I\u2019ll get you a lawyer.\u2019 That has to occur judge. In the analysis of these cases \u2026 there is one brightline and it\u2019s when there is a clear and unequivical request for council, the communication between police and the defendant, it must cease. It never does here judge, it never does.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe state sought to keep the statement admissible, citing Smith-Allen\u2019s signature on the Miranda rights form.\r\n\r\n\u201cThere is a very technical point being argued here, that uttering the words \u2018I want a lawyer\u2019 has uniform meaning to it and is so right-protectable that literally Sgt. Eggeston had to shut down what he was doing when that statement was made. That\u2019s simply not true,\u201d Prosecuting Attorney Patrick Via argued. \u201c\u2026 His language, that the court will hear in the interview [through audio and video recordings] clearly reflect that he wanted to do this interview. He didn\u2019t want to be left [without representation] after the interview, knowing he was going to be placed in formal custody when the interview was over and certainly didn\u2019t want to get left without an attorney as the case moved forward and that is precisely what his inquiry was about. \u2026 The Miranda forum is the exhaustive manner under which Sgt. Eggleston reviewed with Mr. Smith-Allen his rights. It clearly establishes the voluntariness of his statement in all respects.\u201d\r\n\r\nThrough Eggleston\u2019s testimony, Via confirmed that after the exchange, Smith-Allen signed the Miranda form, and said Eggleston\u2019s response to what he perceived to be a question was the \u2018textbook\u2019 response.\r\n\r\n\u201cWhen Mr. Smith-Allen read \u2018I do not want a lawyer at this time,\u2019 he did say \u2018I do want a lawyer at this time.\u2019 My interpretation of that was it was a question \u2026 if he would be able to obtain a lawyer after the interview if he signed [the Miranda rights form],\u201d Eggleston testified. \u201c\u2026 I advised him that he has a right to a lawyer at any point in time and by signing the waiver of his rights, he is not giving up his right to an attorney at any point in time.\u201d\r\n\r\nFaeber pushed back, stating a \u2018textbook\u2019 response would have been to stop the interview.\r\n\r\n\u201cThe fact that it\u2019s adversarial is very important \u2026 this is not just a suspect this is somebody that the state has already leveled their weight against in a prosecutorial manner,\u201d Faeber said. \u201c\u2026 When he says that clearly, that \u2018I do want a lawyer,\u2019 that kind of statement can\u2019t be ignored. You\u2019ll see on the tape, it says it so clearly. If you have any question about what someone means when they say \u2018I do want a lawyer,\u2019 the rights at stake here require the state to acknowledge that \u2026 and address the issue. [The issue] wasn\u2019t addressed here, it was rolled right over.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe statement\u2019s admissibility was not ruled on Friday; any potential orders issued by Dent determining the admissibility of the statement are expected after additional filings submitted by the state and defense by August 12, such as the video and audio of the interview. In addition, the logistics of holding the case, such as making the trial more accessible to the public via technology in both courtrooms of the Greenbrier County Courthouse, will also be held in early August.