An Alexandria Circuit Court judge yesterday upheld the legality of statements to police made by accused slayer Montie Ralph Rissell in May and the search of Rissell's car that uncovered a set of keys, a comb and wallet of one of his alleged victims.
Rissell's attorneys, Stephen R. Pickard and Stefan C. Long, argued yesterday that Rissell was without an attorney when he told police he had killed four women in Alexandria and a fifth in Fairfax County. They also argued he made the statements involuntarily.
They also argued that police illegally search Bissell's 1969 Ford Troino, which he allegedly bought with money that was a gift from his mother. The car was titled, registered and insured in his mother's name.
Assistant Alexandria Commonwealth's Attorney T. Rawles Jones Jr. argued that Bissell's mother who signed the search warrant, had the authority to allow the search of Rissell's car.
Rissell's attorneys contended that the search was illegal because they failed to ask Rissell's permission. They argued that Rissell's statement were illegal because they were given after he was presented with the property of one of the victims, which was found in the car.
Judge Donald H. Kent said "the statements were voluntarily and understandingly made and the search was legal."
Rissell sat expressionless during the hour and a half hearing.
Long also argued that Rissell "was arrested on a preconceived plan" May 13. Because he was arrested on a Friday police could question Rissell that weekend before an attorney could be appointed for him the following Monday, Long said. Russell was questioned by police Friday and Saturday and denied any participation in the murders.
Polcie searched Rissell's car May 17 and later that day told Rissell they had found the wallet of one of the victims, Aletha Byrd, in the trunk, along with an Afro comb, set of keys and a knife. Rissell then said, "I did it," meaning the killings, police testified last month.
On May 20, Rissell was indicted in Alexandria on 12 counts of murder, rape and abduction in connection with the deaths of four women who lived in the Homes Run area of Alexandria.
Last month Rissell was indicted in Fairfax County on charges of murder, rape and abduction in the death of a Fairfax County woman who worked in the Holmes Run area.