Longo's attorney argues to suppress evidence
Wednesday October 2, 2002
By Andrew Kramer of the Associated Press
NEWPORT, Ore. (AP) -- The FBI agent who accompanied Christian Longo from Mexico testified Wednesday that Longo confessed to killing his wife and three small children, and that Longo said he did it for religious reasons.
Agent Daniel Clegg said he sat by Longo on the flight from Mexico, and that he asked Longo why he killed his family.
Clegg said Longo first denied Clegg's suggestions that Longo had killed his family to cover up sexual abuse.
"I asked him, Why did you do kill your wife and three young children?" Clegg testified.
"His response was, your scenario (sexual abuse) could not be further from the truth," Clegg said. "He said, 'I sent them to a better place."'
Clegg paused and the courtroom was silent for about seven seconds. Penny Dupuie, the sister of mother MaryJane Longo, sobbed quietly.
The testimony provided the first clues to a motive for Longo since the discovery of the family's bodies around Christmastime last year.
Longo was once a Jehovah's Witness, but was excluded from the church after he pleaded guilty to using his laptop computer to print counterfeit checks. His wife and children continued to attend the church.
Earlier, Judge Robert Huckleberry had said he believed the defense argument that Longo's arrest in Mexico violated an international treaty may lack legal grounds.
"The fact that you don't agree with the way things shook out doesn't mean ... that (it) was illegal," Huckleberry told Longo and his two lawyers.
Longo's lead court-appointed attorney, Ken Hadley, argued Wednesday that his client would never have left Mexico voluntarily had he known it would expose him to the death penalty in Oregon.
"He got conned into waving his rights in coming back to face the death penalty," Hadley said.
Huckleberry's belief, however, may stymie the defense team's attempt remove the possibility of the death penalty for Longo before the trial begins.
The defense has also filed a motion to suppress the confession Clegg gathered on the Continental Airlines flight from Cancun to Houston on Miranda grounds. Huckleberry has not ruled on that motion.
Clegg asked Longo to sign a document advising him of his rights outside the airport in Cancun. At the time, Longo was still in Mexican custody.
Longo fled to the Cancun area of Mexico around Christmas time last year after the body of 5-year-old Zachery Michael Longo was found floating in an ocean inlet near Waldport just before Christmas.
His sister, 3-year-old Sadie Ann, was found three days later, cocooned inside a sleeping bag, a floral print pillow case containing a rock tied to her ankle.
A few days later, the bodies of his wife, 34-year-old MaryJane, and their 2-year-old daughter Madison were found inside a suitcase in a Newport marina, and police began an international manhunt.
As an attorney in a capital case, Hadley's main goal is to keep his client alive.