Defense attorneys for Timothy Joseph Buzbee argued strenuously but unsuccessfully yesterday to keep out of the public record statements that Buzbee made the night he was arrested on charges of several rapes in Montgomery County's Aspen Hill area.
One of those statements, a county police officer testified, occurred shortly after the officer arrested Buzbee on Nov. 5 and told him that he had "been a bitch to catch."
According to Det. David Hutchison, Buzbee replied, "Have I been that hard to catch?"
Defense attorney Reginald W. Bours III argued that police violated the law in obtaining that comment and others from Buzbee, and that the statements should not be allowed as evidence in his upcoming trials. Bours also argued that no matter how the court rules on his contention of improper police action, the statements would not be admissible at trial based on other legal grounds.
The pretrial hearings on Bours' motion to suppress evidence in the case, which are expected to end today, have become a legal issue in themselves. Bours had attempted to close the hearings to the public, arguing that they would create publicity that would make it impossible for Buzbee to get a fair trial in the county.
Bours won a ruling from a Circuit Court judge that the hearings should be closed. But The Montgomery Journal, The Montgomery Sentinel and The Washington Post appealed that ruling, arguing that the public has a constitutional right to attend the hearings. The Maryland Court of Appeals ruled in the newspapers' favor.
Yesterday, Bours renewed his request to close the hearing, but Circuit Court Judge William Miller denied it, saying that he was "duty bound to follow" the Court of Appeals ruling in the case.
Assistant State's Attorney Barry Hamilton maintained that the statements by Buzbee would be proper to use in the upcoming trials and that he needed Hutchison's testimony to argue the legal question Bours raised in the current hearing.
Bours has argued that police obtained the statement from Buzbee after Buzbee told them he wanted to call his father, a Montgomery County attorney.
Under U.S. Supreme Court rulings, police may not question a suspect after the suspect has requested a lawyer.
But Hutchison testified that Buzbee was not calling his father to represent him. The father is a civil attorney, who handles mostly real estate cases, Hutchison testified.
Hutchison also testified that when Buzbee was taken into the state's attorney's office after his arrest, Buzbee asked to call his wife. According to Hutchison, Buzbee then said into the telephone, "Listen, honey, I've got something very, very important to tell you. Police have arrested me for the Aspen Hill rapes."