ST. GEORGE – A 5th District judge denied a motion to suppress evidence in a case involving an Enterprise resident accused of sexually abusing children.
Kevin Joseph Betony, 38, pleaded not guilty in May to 10 first-degree felony counts of child sex abuse. The charges stem from multiple alleged incidents between October 2014 and July 2016 where Betony forcefully involved children in sexual touching, according to the charging documents.
Judge John Walton denied Betony’s motion to suppress evidence after an evidentiary hearing last month where the defendant claimed he did not understand his Miranda rights when he was interviewed by Washington County Sheriff’s Detective Eric Endter due to a language barrier.
Walton’s order states:
Defendant testified he remembered something about Officer Endter giving him his Miranda warnings, but said he had difficulty understanding because he had been talking in Navajo to other Native American inmates while incarcerated and had not been using English for some time.
During the hearing, Endter testified Betony appeared to understand English while being interviewed and when he read him his Miranda warnings. A recording of the 2016 interview was also played during court where the deputy can be heard giving Betony his Miranda rights to remain silent and to have an attorney present during questioning.
“He responded appropriately and spoke to Officer Endter in English,” the order states. “Officer Endter also testified that he had several earlier contacts with defendant and defendant appeared to speak and understand English well.”
Betony told the court he had difficulty understanding English and was depending on a Navajo interpreter to help him during his testimony at the hearing. However, he said the interpreter would not need to interpret everything and he would “tell her (interpreter) when he needed some clarification.”
Walton ruled in his order that the detective satisfied the legal requirements of Miranda when he stated Betony’s right to remain silent and obtain an attorney. Betony followed the reading of Miranda by talking with Endter “for several minutes” about the victims involved in the case, never invoking his rights.
Betony asked Endter during the interview whether the detective thought he needed a lawyer. Endter told the defendant he could not give him legal advice but did provide him with the information on how to ask the court to appoint an attorney if he couldn’t afford one. Betony continued talking at that time about the victims.
Walton’s order, filed Tuesday, found that Betony “clearly speaks and understands English with no difficulty,” and that there was no evidence to show that a language barrier would have prevented Betony from understanding his Miranda rights.
Betony also pleaded not guilty in a separate case involving a charge of domestic violence-assault in the presence of children. The domestic violence charge stems from an incident earlier this year while the sex abuse was in progress.
The charges are an alleged violation of Betony’s probation for a 2015 case where he was found guilty of child abuse and aiding the delinquency of a minor. He is also on probation following a conviction in Washington County Justice Court for misdemeanor DUI and assault charges.
Betony’s defense attorney recused himself from the case Thursday citing a conflict of interest over representing one of the victims in an unrelated case. A review hearing on the sex abuse case is scheduled for Sept. 28 to ensure Betony’s new attorney will be prepared in time for the December trial.
Email: [email protected]
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.