January 8, 2013: Nicholas Plazio Statement of Facts
STATE OF MARYLAND * IN THE CIRCUIT COURT
V. * FOR CARROLL COUNTY
NICHOLAS PLAZIO * Criminal No.:
STATEMENT OF FACTS IN SUPPORT OF GUILTY PLEA
It is agreed by and between the State of Maryland, by Emmet C. Davitt, State Prosecutor and Thomas M. McDonough, Deputy State Prosecutor, and the Defendant, Nicholas Plazio, and his attorneys, James Nichols, Esquire and Byron Warnken and Associates, that if this matter were called for trial the State would present the testimony of numerous members of the Carroll County Sheriff’s Department, including Detective Douglas Epperson, Corporal Walter Dayton, Crime Scene Investigator Jessica Bullock, Detective Bradley Brown, Detective Juan Bustos, Sergeant Jay Prise, Captain Clarence Lust, Sheriff Charles Tregoning; and testimony of members of the Office of the State’s Attorney for Carroll County, including Assistant State’s Attorneys Kelly Galvin and Edward Coyne and former Deputy States Attorney David Daggett; the testimony of members of the Hampstead Police Department, video and audio recordings of the interrogations of Russell Laderer and Cassandra Glover, and numerous other exhibits, including Exhibits 1-, attached hereto and incorporated herein establishing that:
Between September 13, 2010 and March 6, 2012 Nicholas Plazio was employed and acting in his capacity as a duly sworn law enforcement officer holding the rank of Major in the Carroll County Sheriffs Department and was the commander of the Criminal Investigations Division of the Carroll County Sheriffs Department, charged with the duty to direct and supervise the conduct of criminal investigations by the Carroll County Sheriffs Department to ensure that such investigations were conducted fully, fairly, impartially, and within the bounds of the law, and to assist and cooperate fully and truthfully with the Office of the State’s Attorney for Carroll County in the investigation and prosecution of criminal offenses in Carroll County.
On the night of September 13, 2010, at approximately 10:00 pm., Jeremiah Demario was stabbed to death in Hampstead, Carroll County. Members of the Hampstead Police Department, the Carroll County Sheriffs Department, and the Maryland State Police responded to the crime scene in Hampstead. Officer Christina Holland, of the Hampstead Police Department was first on the scene at approximately 10:07 pm. The investigation into the homicide of Jeremiah Demario was directed by the Carroll County Sheriffs’ Department, with limited assistance from the Maryland State Police and the Hampstead Police Department.
Major Nicholas Plazio, (at that time commander of the Criminal Investigations Division of the Sheriffs Department), Captain Clarence Lust, Sgt. Jay Prise, Detective Juan Bustos, Crime Scene Investigator Jessica Bullock and Detective Douglas Epperson, all duly sworn members of the Carroll County Sheriffs Department assigned to the Criminal Investigations Division, were present at the crime scene, as were other members of the Sheriffs Department, the Hampstead Police Department and the Maryland State Police. Detective Epperson was designated as the lead investigator, a decision ratified by Major Plazio upon his arrival.
Prior to the arrival of the Carroll County Sheriffs Department Personnel, at approximately 11:07 p.m., Officer Christina Holland of the Hampstead Police Department detained, in handcuffs, two individuals, Russell Laderer and Cassandra Glover, who approached the scene of the homicide after the Officer had arrived at the scene. Upon the arrival of the Carroll County Sheriff’s Department, the Sheriff’s Department took custody of Mr. Laderer and Ms. Glover and kept them handcuffed and seated on the parking lot at the crime scene.
At approximately 2:30am on September 14, 2010, Ms Glover was transported by Officer Holland, in a marked police car, in handcuffs to the offices of the CID section of the Carroll County Sheriff’s Department, where the handcuffs were removed and she was held in interview room number 1. At approximately 3:45am, Russell Laderer, who had both defecated and urinated on himself while being held in handcuffs at the crime scene, was transported by Corporal Phillip Lawrence of the Carroll County Sheriff’s Department, in a marked police car, in handcuffs to the offices of the CID section of the Carroll County Sheriff’s Department, where the handcuffs were removed, he was afforded a change of clothing, shackles were placed on his legs, and he was held in interview room number 2. Both interview rooms were wired to record and broadcast audio and video of the rooms, which can be monitored in real time from monitors located in the detectives’ office.
The video tape from interview room 1 reflects that:
1. At approximately 4:00am on September 14,2010, Detective Epperson arrived at the CID offices and turned on the video and audio monitoring systems for interview rooms 1 and 2. Thereafter, everything that occurred in those rooms was recorded on video and audio tape, and was visible and audible, as it occurred, through monitors located in the detectives’ office;
2. At approximately 4:12 am, Detective Epperson entered interview room 1, advised Ms Glover of her constitutional rights (including her right to remain silent and her right to an attorney), and proceeded to conduct an interview of Ms. Glover.
3. At approximately 4:46 a.m., Detective Epperson finally told Ms. Glover that Jeremiah Demario was dead. At approximately 4:49 am Ms. Glover told Detective Epperson that she did not want to talk anymore without an attorney present. Detective Epperson tried to continue the interview, during which time Ms. Glover repeated that she wanted a lawyer and did not want to talk to him. At approximately 4:57am, Detective Epperson stated that, since Ms. Glover had requested a lawyer, he could no longer speak with her, and he left the room.
4. At approximately 5:19 a.m., Cassandra Glover knocked on the door and Epperson responded. Epperson told her that she was not being charged yet, but may be charged. Ms. Glover demanded to be charged or released, asked again for a lawyer, and asked for a phone call to have her mother get her a lawyer. Epperson told her they didn’t need a lawyer yet, and left the room at approximately 5:20 am.
Immediately thereafter (as reflected to the interrogation room video and audio tapes) Detective Epperson entered interview room 2, accompanied by Cpl. Dayton. Detective Epperson advised Russell Laderer of his constitutional rights (including his right to an attorney and his right to remain silent) and Detective Epperson conducted an interview of Mr. Laderer. At approximately 6:16am, during the course of the interview Mr. Laderer requested an attorney. Detective Epperson suggested to him that no attorney was going to be forthcoming at 6:00 in the morning. Mr. Laderer then re-initiated talking to them. The interview then continued, without an attorney. Eventually Mr. Laderer confessed that he had stabbed Jeremiah Demario.
Captain Lust and Major Plazio were briefed by Detective Epperson, in Major Plazio’s office, and informed by Epperson that Cassandra Glover had requested an attorney prior to the interrogation of Russell Laderer. During the course of Detective Epperson’s interrogation of Laderer, Captain Lust was watching the interrogation and informed Major Plazio that Laderer had also requested counsel but had re-initiated talking to Detective Epperson and Cpl. Dayton. After Major Plazio quickly checked on the internet regarding the legal issue of re-initiation of questioning, he went to Captain Lust’s office, and informed Captain Lust that he thought it was okay. Major Plazio and Captain Lust then stood in the detective’s room and watched the continuing interrogation of Mr. Laderer by Detective Epperson on the video monitor until Detective Epperson was successful in eliciting a confession from Mr. Laderer, at which point Captain Lust returned to his office.
In October, 2010, Russell Laderer was indicted for first degree murder and related offenses in the homicide of Jeremiah Demario in case number K-10-040718 in the Circuit Court for Carroll County. Cassandra Glover was charged by indictment with being an accessory after the fact to the murder of Jeremiah Demario in case number K-10-40719. Detective Douglas Epperson, the lead detective in the case, was the State’s primary witness at extensive hearings in both of those matters on various motions. In March, 2012, as a result of the suppression of substantial portions of the State’s evidence on the basis of violations by the Sheriff’s Department of the constitutional rights of the defendants and significant conflicts between testimony by Detective Epperson and other members of the Sheriff’s Department, on the one hand, and Major Plazio on the other concerning the conduct of the investigation and interrogations of Laderer and Glover, the State’s Attorney for Carroll County dismissed all charges against Laderer and Glover.
Detective Epperson and Detective Dayton left interview room 2 at approximately 6:41 a.m. As they returned to the detectives’ room, Major Plazio exited the detectives’ room and congratulated Epperson on securing a confession from Russell Laderer. Epperson and Dayton returned to the Detectives’ room, where the video and audio monitors for the interview rooms were located.
While Corporal Dayton and Detective Epperson sat at their respective desks in the detectives’ room, Major Plazio re-entered the room and began to discuss with Detective Epperson how the investigation should proceed. After some discussion, Major Plazio ordered Epperson to continue to interrogate Glover despite her request for counsel, saying “That’s bullshit, she’s a witness, she has no rights. Get back in there.” The video and audio tape of interview room 1 shows that, at 6:49am Detective Epperson re-entered the interrogation room with Cpl. Dayton, and attempted again to interrogate Cassandra Glover. When Ms Glover refused to talk to them without an attorney present, Detective Epperson directed her to look directly into the camera and loudly repeat her demand for a lawyer. After Ms. Glover did so, Detective Epperson told her that he was probably going to charge her, and he and Cpl. Dayton left the room at approximately 6:52am.
At approximately 6:58a.m., Cpl. Dayton and another Deputy placed handcuffs and leg manacles on Glover because she was to be charged.
At a motions hearing in the Circuit Court for Carroll County on October 27, 2011, in the matter of State v. Russell Laderer, Detective Epperson testified under oath that he was ordered by Major Plazio to continue the interrogation of Cassandra Glover. On Monday October 31, 2011, Major Plazio went to see Assistant State’s Attorney Kelly Galvin, the lead prosecutor assigned to the Laderer and Glover cases. Ms. Galvin immediately wrote a memorandum memorializing her conversation with the defendant, which is attached hereto and incorporated herein as Exhibit 1. Ms. Galvin would testify that the memorandum accurately reflects her conversation with the defendant. Major Plazio told her that he: did not watch the interrogations of Russell Laderer or Cassandra Glover while they were being conducted on the morning of September 14, 2010; did not talk to detective Epperson directly about the case in the Northern Office of the Sheriffs Department on September 14, 2010; knew nothing about what had occurred in the interviews of Mr. Laderer and Ms Glover except what he was told by Captain Clarence Lust; and did not tell Detective Epperson to go back into the interview room to interrogate Cassandra Glover after she had invoked her right to counsel. Each of these statements was false. Epperson, Dayton and Captain Lust will testify that Epperson personally briefed and discussed investigative strategy with Major Plazio several times during the course of the interrogations of Glover and Laderer. They would also testify that Major Plazio watched Laderer’s confession in the detective’s room on the video monitor as it occurred, shortly before Major Plazio engaged in a discussion of strategy with Epperson in the detectives’ room that ended with the defendant’s order to Epperson to continue to interrogate Glover.
The video and audio tape of Glover’s interrogation shows that, at about 9:03 a.m. on September 14, 2010, Cassandra Glover banged on the wall of the interrogation room. In response, Sergeant Bradley Brown opened the door, and when Ms. Glover asked to speak to the Detective, summoned Detective Epperson. While the video shows the door opening and the audio captured the conversation, Sergeant Brown did not enter the room and does not appear on the video.
On November 4, 2011, Major Plazio wrote an e-mail and memorandum to then-Deputy State’s Attorney David Daggett (attached hereto and incorporated herein as Exhibit 2), in which Plazio said that, in reviewing the video tape of the interrogation, it appeared that he had opened the door to the interrogation room at approximately 9:03 a.m., spoken to Glover and summoned Detective Epperson, and suggested that his doing so might loosely have been construed by Detective Epperson as an order.
On February 29, 2012, at a motions hearing in State v. Glover, Major Plazio testified, on being questioned by Mr. Hecker, attorney for Cassandra Glover, as follows:
BY MR. HECKER:
Q So other than the two discussions you had with Captain Lust, and the one discussion you had with Detective Epperson where you congratulated him, and the one comment that you know believe you made to him at 9:03, do you recall having any other communication with Detective Epperson at the station regarding the interrogation of Ms. Glover?
A I can vaguely recall again saying to him, see what she wants. She is the one that asked to speak to you. But as far as an order to get in there and there was no order, it was more of a discussion that hey the lady just asked to speak to you.
Q Did you in some other words perhaps, maybe not order Detective Epperson but did you direct him or suggest to him that he should go back in and re-interview Ms. Glover?
A I believe I said, “See what she wants.”
Q At 9:03?
Q According to your memorandum?
A Yes .
Q But not — it wouldn’t have been at 6:45 in the morning or —
A Absolutely not. Only after — again, I wouldn’t have remembered it had I not seen it on tape — heard it on tape. It was right after that. The first time that I said anything about — I didn’t know who was interviewing who or what times that was happening. I know that he goes back and forth between interviewers which is standard procedure.
Q At no time during this interrogation period at the 9 station, at CID, did you tell Detective Epperson that he had to go in and re-interview Ms. Glover?
A Absolutely not.
Q At any time did you have any discussion with Detective Epperson where you told him that he could go back in and re-interview Ms. Glover because she was a witness and not a suspect?
A Absolutely not.
Q In your mind, would there have been a difference whether she was a witness or a suspect if she had invoked?
A Not once they invoke.
Q And once they invoke, there is no way in the world that you would have told Detective Epperson to go back in there unless you were certain that the suspect or the witness wanted to talk to him and had initiated it?
A Correct. If, I don’t know if this is proper but I would just say that if the tape is reviewed, I think it tells a lot.
Q Other than — how many times have you met with Ms . Galvin or Mr. Coyne or anyone else from the State ‘ s Attorney’ s Office about this concern about the allegation that you ordered Detective Epperson to re-interrogate the….
A I read it in the paper whatever date that was, that it came out . I discussed it with the sheriff and he said to meet with the State ‘ s Attorney, so that would have been the first time. There may have been a follow up visit where I was there for some other reason , I stopped in to say something to Kelly but I can ‘ t recall. And the only other time was when I tried to tell her again when I found out what I found on tape , but I was directed to Mr. . Daggett because he said no you should ‘ t talk to her at this point . Just tell me . So I told him and he said put it in writing , I did . And he asked me to copy the tape that involved the portions that were in question which I did . And I made two copies. One for the defense and one for the State ‘ s Attorney’ s Office.
EMMET C. DAVITT
Thomas M. McDonough
Deputy State Prosecutor
Suite 410, Hampton Plaza
300 E. Joppa Road
Towson, Maryland 21286
Nicolas Plazio, Defendant
James Nichols, Esquire
Byron Warnken and Associates
Attorneys for Defendant