Attorneys debate whether conversation can be used in Joshua Maylee trial

Friday, March 15, 2013 | 8:43 p.m. CDT; updated 10:13 p.m. CDT, Saturday, March 16, 2013

COLUMBIA — The man accused of a series of fatal shootings in Holts Summit in 2010 was in court Friday as attorneys debated whether a conversation he had with the Callaway County sheriff could be used in his trial.

In that conversation, which took place after he was arrested, Joshua Maylee and Sheriff Dennis Crane were discussing first- and second-degree murder. Crane told him the difference was premeditation. 

Maylee then reportedly told the sheriff, referring to the murders, "it just kind of came to me when I was crossing the bridge."

On Friday, the defense argued the statement was made without a lawyer present. The prosecution countered that Maylee initiated the conversation.

Judge Kevin Crane asked the attorneys to negotiate further before requiring him to render a decision.

Maylee, 26, is accused of killing Eugene Pinet, 48, and his wife, Jackie, 57, while they were sleeping in their Holts Summit home on Oct. 26, 2010. He is also charged with fatally shooting Jeffrey Werdehausen, 46, also of Holts Summit. Werdehausen's wife, Gina, 41 at the time, was wounded.

Gina Werdehausen was taken to University Hospital, prompting a widespread lockdown for fear of another murder attempt and causing panic on the MU campus.

Maylee has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree assault in connection with the crimes.

Friday's hearing also included the prosecution's motion to prevent the defense from introducing evidence of relationships between Maylee and two employees of the Missouri State Highway Patrol.  

According to Maylee's public defender, he obtained the weapons used in the shootings from one employee, and the other had used him as a confidential informant.

"The defense is trying to insinuate that something sinister is happening, and that's what we're trying to prevent," said prosecutor Christopher Wilson.

The judge ruled in favor of the prosecution, telling the defense they could not make any connection with the two patrol employees.

Eleven witnesses were called to the stand Friday to testify.

The defense combed through details of the investigation, such as how the sheriff's department acquired evidence, including a tactical vest and a bag filled with boxes of ammunition and magazine clips in his grandfather's camper.

Maylee's grandfather, who lived with the defendant in the camper, described an incident three days after the shootings when an investigator with the sheriff's department came to his door. William L. Maylee said the investigator followed him into the camper without invitation and confiscated the bag and vest.

Maylee claimed a truck was also towed improperly from his property, found to contain more ammunition, a sheriff's badge and the defendant's wallet.

In its cross-examination, the state questioned Maylee about his close ties to his grandson.

"You don't want your grandson to get the death penalty?" Wilson asked.

"I don't think anyone does," Maylee responded.

"Well, I would disagree with that," Wilson said.

The judge set a new motion hearing for April 8. The defense is asking for Joshua Maylee's upper-body restraints to be removed at a later date so a forensics expert can examine his physical and mental states. A jury trial has been scheduled for Sept. 10.

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