Posted: Jul 31, 2013 12:30 PM by MTN News
SIDNEY - A confession from 24-year-old Michael Spell ended the search for Sidney math teacher Sherry Arnold in January 2012. The next two months were spent looking for the body after Spell failed to lead law enforcement to the location of Arnold.
It is that same confession defense attorneys are trying to get thrown out in the case.
The defense had earlier filed a motion with the district court, arguing that Spell's confession should not be admissible in court due to his diminished mental capacity. They contend that Spell is illiterate and did not understand his rights and what was happening during his interrogation that led to his confession.
In a brief filed on Friday, Deputy Richland County Attorney T.R. Halvorson contends that Spell understood his rights and that law enforcement obtained a legal confession.
Spell confessed to the crime six days after Arnold turned up missing. Although he confessed to the crime, the defense says Spell's inability to remember where Arnold's body was located is key evidence that his mental disabilities led to an involuntary confession.
It was his codefendant, Lester Waters, who actually led officials to Arnold's body in March 2012.
Both Spell and Waters pleaded not guilty to charges of deliberate homicide and attempted kidnapping and could receive the death penalty if convicted. However, another defense motion currently before the court argues that Spell cannot be given the death penalty due to his mental capacity.
Water's trial is set for Nov. 4, while Spell will wait until January 6th, 2014.
Defense attorneys have motioned the court for Spell's trial to be moved to Bozeman for an impartial jury.