The videotape of the confession of a young man who purportedly admitted to purposely setting a fire that left four of his neighbors dead is inaudible, and is going to be thrown out of court if the case goes to a jury trial, a Long Island judge ruled today.
19-year-old Caleb Lacey was a volunteer firefighter and is the son of Pentecostal preachers in the town of Lawrence. He attended Lawrence High School, where he was enrolled in a special education program because of a learning disability. We wrote a feature on this case a few weeks ago.
Lacey is charged with committing arson and homicide in the second degree…
The Nassau County District Attorney’s office had told us that during the seven-hour taped confession, Lacey described the crime he allegedly committed in great detail. Today in court, however, after referring to the strength of confession for months, the D.A.’s office said there’s a moment during the confession when Lacey invokes his Fifth Amendment rights.
Though the tapes have been available to both sides for months (the press was not privy to them), neither the prosecution nor the defense brought up the fact that Lacey said, “I plead to the Fifth” during his confession, until today. According to the district attorney’s office, Lacey also admits that he does not know what the Fifth Amendment is.
The defense counsel, Christopher Cassar, has been arguing that the confession is inaudible for months.
The confession will be discussed in court on Wednesday, but not played. Updates to come.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 5, 2009