Attorney claims Good Sam defendants were threatened

Published 10:14 am Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The lawyers in the the case of alleged abuse at Good Samaritan Society of Albert Lea claim confessions by their clients were made to investigators because of threats, and that is why they are challenging the constitutionality of the statements.

A hearing scheduled Monday for one of the two young women charged as an adult in the case has been delayed.

Albert Lea High School graduate Brianna Broitzman was scheduled to appear in Freeborn County District Court Monday for a default hearing; however, her attorney, Larry Maus, called the court office Monday morning requesting a contested omnibus hearing, according to a court administration representative. Though a date for that hearing has not been slated, there is a possibility it will be scheduled for the same day as co-defendant Ashton Larson’s contested hearing.

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At that time, both Ashton and Broitzman’s lawyers are expected to make arguments about the constitutionality of statements made by their clients to investigators.

In a motion filed March 16, Maus asked for an order suppressing the confession and oral statements of Broitzman “on the grounds that the statement was obtained in violation of defendant’s constitutional rights, or alternatively, that the confession was involuntary or the product of a threat.”

He also asked for an order dismissing the criminal complaint against Broitzman for a lack of probable cause.

“Defendant gives notice in advance to the prosecutor of intent to introduce affirmative evidence at the hearing in support of motion to dismiss for lack of probable cause and in support of motion on the constitutional issues,” the court motion stated.

On Monday, Maus declined to expand on the motions further, saying the motions were self-explanatory.

“They’re going to be dealt with in due course,” he said.

Larson’s lawyer, Evan Larson, also filed a motion March 19 to dismiss Ashton’s criminal complaint and to suppress any evidence taken as a result of her confessions or admissions “on the ground that any use of such evidence in any manner, would be in violation of the defendant’s constitutional and statutory rights,” according to court documents.

He also motioned to suppress evidence taken as a result of search and seizure “on the grounds that such was seized in violation of the defendant’s constitutional and statutory protections against unreasonable searches and seizures,” the court motion states.

The lawyer asked to be given the opportunity to inspect and reproduce any relevant written or recorded statements by his client, along with any “papers, documents, photographs and tangible objects which the prosecution intends to introduce as evidence at the trial.”

Broitzman and Ashton each face charges of at least 10 counts of fifth-degree assault, criminal abuse of a vulnerable adult and mandated failure to report suspected abuse of multiple residents at the nursing home.

The charges came in December after an investigation into allegations of abuse by the Albert Lea Police Department, the Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office and the Minnesota Department of Health.

The details of the allegations surfaced last August after the release of the Department of Health’s report. It concluded four teenagers were involved in verbal, sexual and emotional abuse of 15 residents at the nursing home in Albert Lea. The residents suffered from mental degradation conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Ashton and Broitzman were formally charged as adults for the alleged abuse, and four others, who were juveniles at the time of the alleged incidents, were charged for mandated failure to report suspected abuse.

All six are now adults.