Under questioning from a defense attorney Tuesday, a Minneapolis police investigator admitted that he used "deception" to lure an alleged accomplice to police headquarters, where she was questioned and arrested in the 2019 New Year's Eve killing of Monique Baugh.
Attorney Christa Groshek argued that police misled her client, Shante Davis, into appearing at headquarters two times this year under the guise that she could possibly retrieve her cellphone and laptop, which they had confiscated as evidence.
Groshek filed motions to suppress statements Davis made at the meetings.
"We believe that she was tricked down to the police station," Groshek said after a hearing the on matter. "She insisted several times she didn't want to talk to them."
Video recordings of Davis' Jan. 5 and Feb. 4 interviews with police were played in court Tuesday, showing that they never read her the Miranda warning outlining her right to remain silent or to consult an attorney.
The videos also showed that Davis said multiple times that she wanted to talk about her belongings and not the case, and that at least once she noted the absence of legal representation for herself.
Both times two homicide investigators and an FBI agent continued questioning Davis despite her statements.
Davis, 38, was charged Feb. 6 with one count of aiding an offender. She is the wife of one suspect charged in the case, Cedric Berry, and the sister of another suspect, Berry Davis.
Authorities allege that because of an unspecified rift between Baugh's boyfriend and another man, several suspects plotted to lure Baugh, a real estate agent, to a fake home-showing in Maple Grove, where she was kidnapped. She was fatally shot hours later in a north Minneapolis alley after her boyfriend, Jon Mitchell-Momoh, was shot and wounded in her north Minneapolis home with their young daughters present.
Under questioning by Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Paige Starkey, the two Minneapolis police sergeants who interviewed Davis, Marcus Benner and Mark Suchta, said she was not a suspect during the first interview and was free to leave at any point. She also continued to talk after voicing objections, Suchta said.
Police obtained search warrants to confiscate and examine Davis' items.
Groshek is concerned about the tactics they used to convince Davis to visit headquarters, the fact that they didn't read her the Miranda warning or stop to clarify the reason for their questions, and their apparent disregard when she "unequivocally" requested an attorney.
Groshek asked Suchta on the witness stand Tuesday if he used "deception" to lure Davis back to headquarters in February. Davis had contacted Suchta by phone about retrieving her belongings.
"Yes, absolutely," he said.
Groshek asked if the deception involved him returning her items. "Yes," Suchta said, adding that he had no intention of doing that.
Video of the second interview started with Suchta, an FBI agent and Davis in a small room with the door closed. Suchta told Davis she could leave "whenever you want," and quickly added that her husband's fingerprints were "all over" duct tape used to bind Baugh's wrists together and to cover her mouth. Suchta said police had information that Davis had picked up the U-Haul truck used by at least two men to kidnap Baugh.
"I don't have anything to do with any of this," Davis said. "I don't want to say anything that's going to incriminate me."
Davis told Suchta and the FBI agent she had come for her belongings. Suchta said he couldn't return them.
"I don't understand why we didn't get the truth the first time we talked to you," Suchta said.
Davis reiterated the reason for her visit. "This feels like an interrogation," she said after the FBI agent began asking questions.
The agent noted that there were inconsistencies between Davis' first interview and cellphone evidence.
"I wasn't here to make a statement," she said.
"Well, this is what we're going to do," Suchta said. "We may be booking you now."
Suchta and the agent stood to leave. Davis asked if she could use a phone.
"Not right now," Suchta said.
Davis was arrested a short time later.
Groshek rejected the notion that Davis felt safe leaving the interview room on her own when Suchta had escorted her there through a secure entrance.
"It's a ludicrous suggestion that she's in the interior of the Minneapolis Police Department and she can walk out," Groshek said after the hearing.
Berry and Berry Davis are each charged with two counts of aiding and abetting first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and aiding and abetting kidnapping. Former Hennepin County probation officer Elsa Segura is charged with aiding and abetting kidnapping and second-degree murder. Her former boyfriend, Lyndon Wiggins, is charged with the same counts.
All five cases are pending. Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill will rule on Groshek's motions by Feb. 18.
Chao Xiong • 612-270-4708