Roelofs’ attorney: Her rights were violated

In a packed courtroom at the Mille Lacs County Courthouse, Mary Roelofs made her second appearance before a judge on child neglect charges Wednesday, April 25.

So many family members, friends and neighbors came for an overwhelming show of support, Judge Sarah Hennesy had to ask those who could not find seats inside the courtroom to wait outside.

The hearing last week was to resolve two issues raised by Roelofs’ attorney, Kevin DeVore of the Larson King law firm in St. Paul. DeVore questioned the clarity of the identification of the victim in the charging documents. He is also pursuing an argument that Roelofs’ Miranda Rights had been violated.

Hennesy heard testimony from three law enforcement members that day on the matter of the second issue. Investigator Brad Barnes of the Mille Lacs County Sheriff’s Office testified that he was called to the Roelofs’ residence on Dec. 10, 2011 after his assistance was requested from another investigator.

“I introduced myself and I asked her if she wanted to talk. Then we went out to my squad car,” Barnes testified. “She wasn’t angry. She wasn’t sad. It was just a normal conversation between the two of us.”

That conversation was recorded with an audio device, after receiving the approval from Roelofs to document the discussion, Barnes said.

During the cross-examination, DeVore asked Barnes why he never told her those statements could be used against her in a court of law, and why he didn’t tell her she had a right to an attorney.

Barnes testified that he didn’t read Roelofs her Miranda Rights because she wasn’t placed under arrest.

Investigator Don Lorge also testified at the hearing pertaining to his part in the investigation. DeVore questioned his role in an additional interview of Roelofs conducted by Family Services on Dec. 23. Lorge told the court he did not read Roelofs her rights during this interview.

County Prosecutor Melissa Saterbak made it a point to question the investigators if it is policy to read Miranda Rights to individuals who are not placed under arrest. Both investigators testified that is not procedure.

This is the second court appearance Roelofs has made stemming from child abuse and neglect charges that accuse her of placing a 3-year-old boy outside several times during a cold, winter day without proper clothing and of physically abusing the boy that resulted in bruising.

Hennesy instructed the defense and prosecuting attorneys to submit brief, written submissions pertaining to the issues raised at this hearing and also requested additional motions be filed by Friday, May 11.