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Published: Tuesday, 4/24/2012

Judge hears arguments on interview admissibility

Elhadi Robbins leaving court after his arraignment in 2010. Elhadi Robbins leaving court after his arraignment in 2010.
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Both prior to his arrest for the murder of Cindy Sumner and after he was charged, Elhadi Robbins was interviewed by police detectives about the young woman’s disappearance and death.

In Lucas County Common Pleas Court Monday, attorneys argued about whether the recorded statements would be shown to a jury at his trial.

Robbins, 46, of Toledo, is charged with two alternate counts of murder for the 2009 death of Miss Sumner, 20. If convicted, he faces up to life in prison.

Miss Sumner, who had cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and learning disabilities, was reported missing Aug. 6, 2009. Her decomposed body was found six weeks later in a vacant warehouse on Elm Street.

The hearing regarded statements made by Robbins during interviews on Sept. 18, 2009, and Oct. 7, 2009.

In the motion to suppress Robbins’ statements, his attorney argued that Robbins asked for an attorney during the October, 2009, interview but that it was not for several hours that one was provided. Attorney Ronnie Wingate referred several times to the interview, questioning whether Robbins’ statements saying he’d like to speak to an attorney were ambiguous.

Assistant County Prosecutor Ian English told Judge Duhart during opening statements that during Robbins September, 2009, interview, the case was still considered a missing persons investigation because although a body had been found, it had not been identified as Miss Sumner. As such, Robbins was not a suspect in a homicide and his rights were not read to him but instead he made a voluntary statement, Mr. English said.

During the hearing, photographs of Miss Sumner’s decomposed body were shown to show that she was not identifiable. Toledo police Detective Jay Gast testified that he was informed after Robbins’ September interview that the body was the missing young woman.

The hearing, which included testimony from Detective Gast, was adjourned late Monday but will continue Wednesday. Judge Myron Duhart will also be given the recorded videos of the interviews to watch before making a decision.

Additional testimony is expected when the hearing continues Wednesday.

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