A Frederick teen who police say previously confessed to fatally shooting a Hagerstown girl testified Tuesday he did not commit murder.
Public defenders representing Richard Cartnail, 17, sought to suppress statements made by the defendant during a July 1, 2020, interrogation by Frederick County Sheriff’s Office detectives. Cartnail was 16 at the time he was charged as an adult with first-degree murder for the death of 17-year-old Tykerria Dawson, whom police said he was dating. Her body was found June 27, 2020, near a creek at the end of Briargrove Court, according to charging documents.
Also charged in the case with first-degree murder is Frederick resident Caliyah Lobaugh, 15. Her case was forwarded to Circuit Court and is awaiting scheduling, online court records indicate. She and Cartnail are being held without bail.
Assistant Public Defender John Maclean in court Tuesday questioned Frederick County Sheriff’s Office Detective Jennifer Skelley and Sgt. Joseph McCallion about their July interview with Cartnail at the sheriff’s office, during which Cartnail reportedly confessed to shooting Dawson.
Maclean suggested the police coerced Cartnail into making a confession, but after listening to testimony and reviewing evidence, Circuit Court Judge Scott L. Rolle disagreed and denied the defense’s motion to suppress.
“I didn’t commit a murder,” Cartnail said under oath Tuesday.
The defense did not offer a comment to the News-Post after the hearing.
Police interviewed Cartnail at the law enforcement center in Frederick after he’d been identified as a suspect in the homicide, police testified. Cartnail waited in what he and police described as a cold interview room while McCallion spoke to Cartnail’s mother down the hall. After about an hour of waiting, McCallion and Skelley entered the interview room to speak with Cartnail and interrogated him for more than two hours, according to testimony.
Maclean focused on how Cartnail repeatedly denied shooting Dawson during the interview, then eventually told the police “what they wanted to hear” and drew a map of where the gun was, but said Tuesday he didn’t actually know where the weapon was at the time.
The defense attorney raised concern over police reportedly calling Cartnail a “monster” in the interrogation and said the language police used suggested they would write a report that painted a better picture of Cartnail if he were honest with them.
“That is inducement,” Maclean alleged, arguing that after three hours at the police station Cartnail was ready to say whatever he had to in order to end the interrogation.
Maclean further suggested the detectives did not question him with his young age in mind.
“He was spoken to like he was a 45-year-old man,” Maclean said.
Cartnail told the court he wanted to speak with police at the time because he felt like questions needed to be answered. He described feeling “overwhelmed” and nervous during the interview, and was concerned when police told him his mother was upset.
When Assistant State’s Attorney Rebecca Clinton asked Cartnail about his recollection of the July 1 interview, he remembered some aspects of the conversation, but not others. Clinton characterized his lack of recollection as convenient.
Through Clinton and Assistant State’s Attorney Laura Wilt’s questioning, Skelley and McCallion described how they consider a person’s age, background, education and other factors when conducting interviews. McCallion said Cartnail was cooperative and communicated well. Skelley detailed how she explained Cartnail’s Miranda Rights to him and confirmed he understood them.
Clinton argued Cartnail knew exactly why he was coming to the sheriff’s office and that he knowingly waived his rights when he chose to speak with the police.
Clinton requested Rolle consider the totality of the circumstances.
In announcing his decision to deny the defense’s motion to suppress, Rolle said he found the police interview to be “unremarkable” and said the detectives were “gentle” with Cartnail. Rolle said he watched a video of the interrogation.
Referring to Cartnail’s testimony, Rolle pointed out the defendant said he spoke to police because he felt like there were “questions that needed to be answered.” Cartnail also told the judge he understood his rights, despite the defense’s efforts to prove he did not comprehend them.
An officer telling a suspect they won’t be called a monster in a police report is not an inducement, Rolle said.
“If there were inducements,” Rolle said, “the defendant didn’t rely on them.”
Cartnail has a jury trial set to begin Dec. 6.