Guard did not violate inmate's civil rights, county attorney finds

PoliceOne Staff Report
( SARPY COUNTY, Neb.) -- The county attorney's office has determined that a prison guard did not violate the constitutional rights of an inmate during a conversation about phone privileges, according to a brief filed with the Nebraska Court of Appeals.

"A simple conversation about phone privileges," between murder suspect, Charles Relford and a jail guard is what Sarpy County Deputy County Attorney Tricia Freeman called the alleged violation in an 11-page brief filed Nov. 10th.

The guard "was merely explaining what defendant's phone privileges were," Freeman wrote, not trying to extract a confession. She added that Relford waived Miranda rights prior to the conversation during an interrogation session and his rights were explained again before he was questioned a second time.

Relford's phone privileges were restricted keep him from alerting potential witnesses, the World Herald reported.

Relford's attorney, Steve Delaney, countered the prosecutors statement, telling the Herald that he agrees with the ruling of Sarpy County District Court Judge George Thompson, who ruled Relford's rights were violated.

An appeals judge overturned that decision because he found the conversation to be ambiguous.

Delaney has 30 days to file a reply to the prosecutor's brief.

On Aug. 16, 1999 Relford, who was in jail on first-degree assault charges connected with the choking death of Garyana Byars, his ex-girlfriend, asked the guard to use the phone so that he could get a public defender.

A second interrogation after this request yielded "incriminating statements" that lead to police charging him with first-degree murder, authorities said.

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