Statements detailing sexual fantasies about young boys, made to police by a suspect in the
rape and murder of 13-year-old Jesse Dirkhising last year, can be admitted as evidence in court, a state judge has ruled.
Circuit Judge David Clinger of Benton County, Ark., also said Apr. 26 that a search of Davis Don Carpenter’s apartment was proper during his arrest for killing Dirkhising last fall.
Attorneys for Carpenter, arguing a technicality, had claimed the suspect had not been formally arrested when Rogers, Ark., police questioned him twice on Sept. 26, and that therefore evidence obtained up to that point should not be admissible.
However, Clinger said Carpenter himself had called police to the scene, and that officers were acting on what they saw inside the apartment after Carpenter summoned an ambulance for the boy before dawn.
“This isn’t a situation where police snatched somebody off the street, held them for an hour or so and tried to come up with something to arrest them for,” Clinger said. “Mr. Carpenter, himself, summoned police to the scene, and that’s what began this saga in the first place.”
Carpenter, 38, along with Joshua McCabe Brown, 22, is charged with capital murder and six counts of rape in Dirkhising’s death. The boy was found bound, gagged and near death inside Carpenter’s apartment on Sept. 26. He died shortly thereafter at a local hospital from asphyxia after being bound with duct tape and gagged with his own underwear, according to police records. Dirkhising had spent several weekends at Carpenter’s apartment while working at a Rogers hair salon with Carpenter, who was friends with the boy’s parents. He was found nude on a mattress with one hand wrapped in duct tape and a pill bottle nearby.
Kent McLemore, Carpenter’s attorney, argued that the evidence should not be included during trial because they were made during “custodial interrogations” that occurred without police having advised Carpenter of his Miranda rights.
But Benton County prosecutors disputed McLemore’s characterization of Carpenter’s questioning and said Rogers police officers testified that Carpenter was told several times Sept. 26 that he wasn’t under arrest, voluntarily rode with police to the station for questioning, didn’t stop the interviews or ask for an attorney. At one point he was even allowed to go outside and smoke a cigarette.
In March, police testified in earlier court proceedings that they viewed Carpenter as a witness, not a suspect, during initial questioning last year. However, under cross-examination in court last week, police said the DNA sample they took from Carpenter was not usual for subjects who were not yet considered suspects in a crime.
As Clinger noted, Carpenter went voluntarily with police to a local hospital to give samples Sept. 26 after the 7 a.m. interview at the police station. After returning, Carpenter spoke to a police detective on the front steps of the station about his sexual fantasies with young boys, Detective Hayes Minor testified Wednesday.
At that point, Minor said, he stopped Carpenter and told him to leave the police station. Carpenter was arrested later that night at his father’s home in Springdale, Ark.
Clinger said police were not obligated to arrest a suspect immediately after they had established probable cause, but are permitted to wait and gather evidence first, if they choose to do so, he said.
McLemore also said his client had signed a police form allowing a search of his apartment involuntarily and under duress. Last month Rogers police officials testified in court that indeed Carpenter had initially hesitated to sign the form, but eventually agreed, saying the police would obtain a warrant anyway.
Still to be considered in the case are several writings police seized from a top kitchen cabinet in the apartment that detail scenarios of binding, drugging and sexually assaulting children. Defense attorney Tim Buckley of Fayetteville is expected to argue in a written motion why he believes police seized the writings illegally.