CLARION – A Pittsburgh attorney, who is representing a Clarion man accused of killing a Curwensville woman in March, has filed a motion in Clarion County Court to suppress the statements his client made to state police troopers after the incident.
A ruling on that motion as well as others has been delayed until next month.
According to court records, Adam M. Bishop, who is representing Damien L. Ditz, 21, of Clarion, filed an omnibus pre-trial motion in November to suppress statements Ditz made to troopers in the immediate hours after the incident occurred.
On March 1, Ditz was driving a vehicle belonging to his on-and-off-again girlfriend when the two got into an argument over $130 that Ditz allegedly owed her.
Around 5:30 p.m. that evening, Ditz drove the vehicle into a trailer park along Lake Lucy Road in Washington Township, Clarion County, and while the couple was arguing, Ditz allegedly shot Katrina M. Seaburn, 22, of Curwensville, with a Glock 37 handgun.
The Clarion University senior died at the scene of a single gunshot wound to the chest.
Ditz was charged by Marienville-based state police with felony criminal homicide and aggravated assault, as well as simple assault and recklessly endangering another person, both misdemeanors.
At the preliminary hearing held in August at Clarion County District Judge Timothy Schill’s office, Bishop argued that his client’s actions were not premeditated and Ditz did not intentionally shoot Seaburn.
But Schill agreed with Clarion County District Attorney Mark Aaron, who argued that Ditz’s actions with a loaded firearm said otherwise — and Schill bound all charges except a second-degree murder charge over to court.
Since that time, Bishop filed a motion to suppress statements Ditz made to state police at the Marienville barracks in the hours after the shooting because troopers did not Mirandize his client.
Miranda rights is a right to silence warning given by police in the United States to criminal suspects in police custody before they are interrogated to preserve the admissibility of their statements against them in criminal proceedings.
Bishop also filed a motion to compel the prosecution to provide an autopsy report conducted by Dr. Eric Vey of Erie. The motion states that Aaron informed the defense that Vey holds an opinion relative to the presence/absence of gunshot residue found on the victim.
Additionally, a motion was filed on Nov. 22 asking for statements made by Ditz to troopers at the Ridgway barracks before he was officially charged with the crime be suppressed because he was not read his Miranda rights.
It was stated at the preliminary hearing that Ditz was interviewed for about seven hours at the Ridgway barracks when Ditz’s initial story about the incident changed, when Ditz told troopers the couple had been arguing about money. Troopers testified at the preliminary hearing that Ditz said at the interview that during the argument, he picked up the pistol from the center console and pointed it at Seaburn.
After the seven-hour interview, Ditz was arrested and charged by state police in connection with Seaburn’s death. If found guilty, he could serve a lifetime prison sentence.
A ruling on the motions filed by Bishop were scheduled to be heard by Clarion County President Judge James G. Arner last week, but it was postponed and rescheduled to be heard at 9 a.m. Friday, Jan. 19.