Judge denies exclusion of some evidence in Garza murder case
A judge Friday ruled that a statement made to police by the registered Wallkill sex offender accused of killing an aspiring Brooklyn dancer can be heard in court, while another comment will not be allowed. Newburgh Detective Doug Scott said he was booking Michael Mele on an unrelated charge - and hadbeen told by defense lawyers not to question Mele - when he saw aninjured finger. He said he told another officer, "Looks like he'sgot a bite mark" and Mele responded that "he had injured himselfwith a small knife at his work."Then Scott said he saw the scratches and said, "You're allscratched up," to which Mele said that his cat scratched him.Orange County Judge Nicholas DeRosa ruled that Mele's commentabout the knife is admissible because it was a spontaneousstatement and not the result of illegal police questioning. But hesaid Scott should have realized after the knife comment that hismention of the scratches might elicit a response from Mele andtherefore ruled that the cat response was inadmissible.
Mele has pleaded not guilty to murder, manslaughter and evidence tampering in the death of 25-year-old Laura Garza.
Garza disappeared in Dec. 2008 five months after she moved to Brooklyn from McAllen, Texas. Police say she was last seen with Mele. Her body was found in Pennsylvania in April 2010.AP wire services contributed to this report
Judge denies transfer of Mele murder trialCoroner releases Laura Garza's cause of death