Statements in ATM robbery in question

A Marietta woman’s candid admissions about robbing two men with a knife could be withheld from trial if her defense attorney’s motion to suppress her statements is successful.

Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Ed Lane heard arguments Wednesday for and against the suppression of comments that Mindy S. Fox, 33, of 237 Muskingum Drive, made to a Marietta Police officer directly preceding her Dec. 28 arrest on two first-degree felony charges of aggravated robbery.

Fox allegedly donned a black hat over her face and used a knife to coerce two different men into giving her money from ATMs on Dec. 26 and 27 while her co-defendant James J. Augenstein, 43, of 836 Pike St. Apt. 16, reportedly knew of the robberies and drove her.

During separate interviews with Patrolman Katie Warden of the Marietta Police Department at Fox’s home on Dec. 28, both Fox and Augenstein admitted their involvement in the crimes but pointed to the other as the driving force behind the robberies.

Fox initially denied her involvement when talking to Warden, but eventually started explaining she had committed the crime to help Augenstein pay bills and to keep him from committing more heinous crimes.

“It was either that or he was going to gut them,” she told Warden in the taped interview.

Fox’s attorney Ray Smith argued that Fox’s comments from that interview and a later one made at the police station should be suppressed because of Miranda Rights violations.

The initial conversation at Fox’s home occurred before Fox had been Mirandized. Despite not being formally held for questioning, she was in custody at this point, he argued.

“Throughout the conversation it is clear Mindy Fox is not free to leave. She’s clearly being detained. My client asks for permission to go do things,” said Smith.

Augenstein’s attorney Nancy Brum put forth a similar argument last week in motioning to have his interviews with Warden suppressed.

In both cases, Washington County Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Rings argued that lack of restraint against the defendants and the liberties given to them during the interviews indicates they were not in custody.

“She was interviewed in her home. She was allowed to get dressed. She was permitted to go into her own room, get cigarettes, take medications,” said Rings Wednesday. “There are simply no facts here for anyone to conclude she was in custody.”

Smith went on to argue that Fox’s later conversation at the police station should be suppressed because Fox made a comment about needing an attorney immediately after being read her Miranda rights.

“I definitely have to get an attorney, for sure,” said Fox, before going on to add to her earlier comments with more damning accusations about Augenstein.

Fox told Warden that Augenstein had beaten and raped her on previous occasions. She said she committed the crimes out of fear of what would be done to her if she refused.

“I was scared not to because he’s put his hands on me before,” she said.

Rings argued that Fox had already knowingly signed a waiver of her rights when she willingly continued talking after bringing up an attorney.

Lane gave both attorneys a time frame to submit further briefs on the suppression motion, the last of which will be due June 13.

Lane’s decision on the Augenstein suppression motion is scheduled to be handed down Monday.