Murder trial bogs down over Miranda rights dispute

Posted: Sunday, March 12, 2000

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Was accused killer Adam Hamilton read his Miranda rights when he was arrested last fall? One Alaska State Trooper says yes, while another says no.

The conflicting testimony has snarled Hamilton's murder trial in Fairbanks.

Trooper investigator Gary Tellup testified Friday in Fairbanks Superior Court that he had not read Hamilton his rights.

The statement conflicted with earlier testimony from another trooper who said he had heard Tellup advise Hamilton of his rights. It also ran counter to a trooper report claiming the suspect had been read his rights.

Hamilton is accused of stabbing David Dixon to death in his Old Steese Highway residence on Nov. 24.

Rebekah Dixon, the victim's wife, said she woke about 2:30 a.m. to find a man wearing a ski mask repeatedly stabbing her husband with a knife. She told troopers the assailant stabbed her husband a couple of more times before running out the door, according to court documents.

Prosecutor Jeff O'Bryant sought to explain the confusion over the Miranda rights, saying troopers were much more concerned with Hamilton's medical condition than his possible role in a murder.

Police had found Hamilton with blood on his hands and he reportedly bled to the point of lightheadedness from a wound on his leg. He was taken by ambulance to the hospital from where police stopped him on College Road.

''Basically, we put the medical needs of the defendant before the state's needs,'' O'Bryant said.

Defense attorney Bill Satterberg tried to quash testimony from Tellup, but Judge Richard Savell ruled against him. The judge also said Satterberg couldn't put people on the witness stand solely to trash the victim's character.

Satterberg had pledged in his opening statements Wednesday to detail Dixon's alleged violent past in an effort to bolster claims that Hamilton acted in self-defense.

State medical examiner Franc Fallico said he found 28 different stab and cut wounds on Dixon's body. He said wounds on Dixon's hands were likely inflicted defending himself against attack.

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