Judge won’t reject statements by suspect in trooper assault

Associated Press

RAPID CITY, S.D. — A judge has refused to throw out statements allegedly made to authorities by a Washington state man accused of trying to kill a Highway Patrol trooper in South Dakota.

Attorneys for Donald Willingham, 34, of Renton, Washington, unsuccessfully argued that the statements were obtained illegally, the Rapid City Journal reported.

In his written decision, 7th Circuit Judge Wally Eklund responded to the defense’s assertions in three points. He said the Miranda warnings issued before Willingham’s interrogations were adequate, investigators’ interrogations were valid and the statements obtained during Willingham’s booking were not improperly obtained.

Willingham has pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and other charges in the October 2015 beating of Trooper Zachary Bader during a traffic stop on Interstate 90 east of Rapid City. Bader recovered from skull and facial fractures.

Authorities said the traffic stop led to the recovery of more than 50 pounds of marijuana, $33,000 in cash and a handgun.

Three others charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and being an accessory to a crime in the case have pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against Willingham.

Willingham and the three others charged are scheduled to appear in court on Monday. Eklund approved Willingham’s request to be tried separately from the other defendants, who he says have made incriminating statements against him.

Willingham also faces a separate assault charge against a fellow inmate from August. According to a report filed in court, Willingham sprayed a chemical disinfectant into another cell that hit another inmate in the eye.

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