Whether Adrien Wallace is mentally fit to proceed remains in question

Potentially incriminating statements made by the suspect in a double murder in Lake Oswego can be used against him if the case goes to trial.

Clackamas County Judge Jeffrey S. Jones ruled Aug. 29 that sheriff’s deputies properly administered Miranda rights to Adrien Graham Wallace, 42, accused of shooting and killing his mother, Saundra Sue Wallace, 71, and his nephew, Nicolas Brian Juarez, 16, who was visiting from Mountain View, Calif. The incident took place the evening of June 4, 2012, in the driveway of a house on Indian Springs Circle, where Adrien Wallace lived with his mother.Wallace

Defense attorneys had earlier challenged whether Wallace was properly informed of his constitutional rights to remain silent and have an attorney present when talking to law enforcement officials.

Jones said last week that he listened to audio tapes and watched videos recorded of Wallace at the scene of the crime, in law enforcement vehicles and during subsequent interviews with detectives, and he didn’t think Wallace’s rights were violated.

“It appeared to me the detectives were very reasonable in their questioning,” that they “acted with the utmost professionalism and in very difficult circumstances were polite and respectful of Mr. Wallace,” Jones said. “They were never overbearing or placing pressure on Mr. Wallace. So, these statements, I concluded, were voluntary.”

Clackamas County Sheriff’s Deputy Kevin Bigler previously testified that Wallace called 911 to report the shooting and made a “spontaneous” statement saying to “take me to prison” when being taken into custody. Bigler said he then read Wallace his Miranda rights, the list of warnings that law enforcement officials read to suspects in custody.

Named for a 1960s case that went to the Supreme Court, Miranda warnings aim to ensure suspects don’t make self-incriminating statements without first being informed of their right to legal counsel and to remain silent.

In addition, Detective Michael Copenhaver previously testified that Wallace told law enforcement officials he had an argument with his mother and nephew as they were leaving the house before going to his room, grabbing a rifle and nearby ammunition, then going outside and shooting his mom, just outside of her Toyota Prius, and his nephew, who was in the passenger seat.

Wallace was present for the hearing last week but didn’t speak. The judge allowed a sheriff’s deputy to free his right hand from cuffs so he had the option of communicating in writing with his two attorneys in the courtroom.

Also last week, Jones on Friday decided to send Wallace to the state hospital for an evaluation of whether he is fit to stand trial.

Mental health experts working for both sides in the case began evaluating Wallace after his attorneys filed a notice that they intended to rely on a guilty-except-for-insanity defense.

Their filing said that at the time of the alleged crimes Wallace “suffered from a mental disease or defect and that he lacked substantial capacity either to appreciate the criminality of the conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law.”

Attorney David Falls argued that during related mental health evaluations Wallace became paranoid and quit cooperating with his legal counsel.

Falls called for an independent evaluation by someone who hadn’t previously formed opinions about Wallace’s mental health status.

The Oregon State Hospital will now consider whether Wallace is competent to stand trial in the case. If he isn’t able to aid and assist in his own defense, the court could commit him to the state hospital for up to a few years of treatment; in that case, proceedings could resume once his competence was restored.

A hearing on whether he can aid and assist is scheduled for Sept. 17. Wallace’s trial is scheduled for October.

Past coverage:

'Attorneys question murder suspect's mental status'

'Miranda warnings at issue in murder case'

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