A central Missouri judge has ordered law enforcement officers not to interrogate a man charged with killing a 13-year-old girl unless his attorney is present.
The order by Miller County Judge Kenneth Oswald comes after an attorney for Steven Henderson sought a protective order against law officers. The motion was given to the judge to exclude any statements Henderson may have made against himself. The request was denied, but investigators will not to interrogate Henderson unless his lawyer is there.
The five page motion from Henderson's lawyer, Keith Halcomb, claims the day after Henderson was arrested, he was given a public defender. When that happens, all questioning from law enforcement needed to stop. Halcomb claims that didn't happen.
Halcomb claims both the Miller County prosecutor and Sheriff Bill Abbott knew Halcomb would be the public defender. Halcomb says when he attempted to visit Henderson in jail, he was told Henderson was being interrogated by investigators. When he finally made it to the room, Halcomb tried to stop the questions. But that didn't happen.
Investigators don't remember it that way.
“He stormed in our interview room and said I'm representing this individual here in this case," Abbott told ABC 17 News. "The interview stopped, we stopped right there. We didn't even know he had a public defender."
Halcomb claims he tried to explain the law to Abbott, but he was told to leave or be forcibly removed.
Abbott says his department didn't do anything wrong. He says they read Henderson his rights and he answered their questions.
“If he asked for a lawyer we would have been done, but he never did. I assure you … We know what we can and can not do,” Abbott said.
Abbott tells ABC 17 News since they now know he has a lawyer, they haven't questioned him since. We tried to reach Halcomb Wednesday for a comment, but our messages were not returned.
Henderson is charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the June 22 death of Macala Shelton, who was his brother's stepdaughter.
Henderson's next hearing is scheduled for September 16.