Judge denies defendant's request to suppress confession

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BENNINGTON — A state judge has denied an attempt by a North Pownal man accused of sexually abusing a child to suppress a confession he allegedly made to Vermont State Police last year.

Gary Pickard, 67, was charged last October with repeated aggravated sexual assault of a child and lewd and lascivious conduct with a child, both felonies. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is currently held in custody without bail in advance of a possible trial, court records indicate.

According to an affidavit written by Vermont State Police Detective Sergeant Henry Alberico, Pickard, after meeting with law enforcement and waving his Miranda rights, admitted touching the child inappropriately and "indicated he had no reason to dispute" that "the behavior had been occurring for a few years."

Pickard's attorneys argued in a motion filed earlier this year that the potentially incriminating statements made by their client to police should be excluded from trial because, during the interview, he invoked his right to remain silent and police used inappropriate and coercive tactics.

But in a recent five-page decision, Bennington County Superior Court Judge David Barra sided with prosecutors, who opposed the defense's motion.

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Barra found that when Pickard, about eight minutes into the interview, said, "I guess I'm done talking," the statement was "not an unambiguous invocation" of his right to remain silent, and State Police "addressed" the "ambiguous statement ... in an open-ended manner that allowed Pickard an opportunity to clarify his meaning."

Pickard's interrogators "were non-threatening and professional," Barra wrote. "They did not promise leniency or misrepresent their legal authority."

Before his arrest, Pickard was employed by a company contracted with the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union for school bus services, The Banner previously reported.

Pickard's next court appearance is scheduled for Sept. 30.

Contact Luke Nathan at lnathan@benningtonbanner.com.


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