By Kelli Stopczynski (firstname.lastname@example.org)
5:53 PM EST, January 11, 2013
Heartbreaking details emerged in court Friday from a New Carlisle mother whose two small children died after she found them in the trunk of her car.
Jacqueline Wilk’s attorney told St. Joseph County Judge John Marnocha the state shouldn’t be allowed to use statements she gave police or statements from her neighbors in her trial.
Defense Attorney Charles Lahey also argued a St. Joseph County Metro Homicide detective told Wilk’s stepfather she could only have her car back from evidence technicians in exchange for more interviews with Wilk and some of her family members.
Wilk, now 25, is facing two counts of felony neglect after she found her two-year-old son Isaac Dunner and four-year-old son Dominick Wilk unresponsive and locked in the trunk of her hot car around 3 p.m. on June 17, 2011 in the driveway of the home she shared with her mother and stepfather. The high temperature that day was 85 degrees.
Both boys died.
“A very big part of this case is who’s going to throw the first stone at this young lady,” Lahey told WSBT after court. “Every parent in the world has lost sight of their kids for a couple minutes.”
But deputy prosecuting attorney Mark Roule told the judge the statements Wilk willingly gave police on June 17 and four days after the incident on June 21 prove it wasn’t the first time the boys had slipped out of her sight or become trapped in the car.
“You’ll see the number of times she says they played in the car. It wasn’t just once or twice,” Roule said.
But Lahey countered those interviews should not be allowed because Metro Homicide officers never read Wilk her Miranda Rights letting her know she had a right to an attorney and never put her under arrest when she talked to them.
The young mother was not arrested until May 2012 – nearly one year after the incident happened – he pointed out, when a grand jury indicted her and the prosecutor’s office charged her.
Roule also said investigators interviewed at least two neighbors who saw Wilk’s children playing alone in the backyard near the swimming pool and in the front yard “a number of times.”
“We don’t even know what date that was or if there was an adult somewhere else observing them that [the neighbors] couldn’t see them,” Lahey told WSBT. “And we have half a dozen or more neighbors who say these were ordinary people and that they supervised the children and the children were happy, they were well cared for.”
Metro Homicide impounded Wilk’s car to inspect it and try and determine how the boys got into the car. Both Wilk and her stepfather, Ralph Young, testified lead investigator Galen Pelletier told them they would not get the car back unless the family went to Metro Homicide on June 21 to give another statement.
“I would never do that to anybody. My whole basis as a police officer is on integrity and in 17 years of experience I never would do that,” Pelletier countered on the witness stand.
Wilk also briefly testified about finding her children in the trunk, saying she carried them inside, called 911 and tried to perform CPR on them until a neighbor, who is also a paramedic, arrived and took over.
As she wiped away tears, Wilk told the judge she wanted to ride in one of the two ambulances to the hospital but was told by police there wasn’t enough room. Instead, a New Carlisle police officer drove Wilk and the father of one of her children to Memorial Hospital’s emergency room.
Marnocha said he will listen to both the 20 minute statement Wilk gave Metro Homicide detectives at the hospital on June 17 and the interview that happened at Metro Homicide on June 21.
He expects to make a ruling early next week about whether those statements should be allowed in Wilk’s trial. It is scheduled to begin February 4.
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