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Suspect in 1993 Rayna Rison slaying in court

Jason-Tibbs.jpg

The defense and prosecution Wednesday in a 1993 murder case fromLa Porte questioned and cross examined witnesses over whether to allow a piece ofevidence that could prove key to either side.

The hearing was over a motion by attorneys for defendant Jason Tibbson a statement he gave to police when questioned about the disappearanceand death of 16-year-old Rayna Rison.

The defense contends the now 38-year-old Tibbs was not read his Miranda rights,and permission was not sought from a parent or guardian prior to being questioned bypolice as required under law for juveniles.

Tibbs was 17 when first interviewed several times by investigators about the disappearance of Rison and a month later when her decomposedbody was discovered.

La Porte County Prosecutor Chris Fronk argued parental consent did nothave to be obtained or his rights read to him first to be questioned because he was never arrested or considered an official suspect.

Fronk called several now-retired La Porte police detectives who worked the case to the stand, including John Miller, who testified Tibbs was questioned only to obtain informationto try and locate Rison after she was first reported missing.

''We didn't consider him a viable suspect in the case,'' said Miller.

All of the detectives said Tibbs came to the police station to be interviewedwillingly and freely answered questions and was allowed to go after each session.

However, defense attorney John Tompkins of Indianapolis tried to show that Tibbs was technically in custody when on at least two occasions he was escorted in a police vehicle to the station for questioning.

Tompkins, through his cross examination, also tried showing that Tibbs was interrogatedby not being advised at any point that he didn't have to answer questions from the detectives.

No details of the statement were given, but Tompkins from a transcript ofTibbs' testimony during the questioning over 20 years ago highlighted a response by one of the detectives, who told Tibbs ''you are key to this.''

Judge Tom Alevizos ended the hearing by ordering the defense and prosecution byDecember 6 to submit their arguments in writing to try and clarify their points.He did not set a date for reaching a decision.

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