Attorneys for Brian Dripps have officially filed motions to suppress his confession to the murder of Angie Dodge and to have a jury formed from outside eastern Idaho.
The motions were filed last week after Defense Attorney James Archibald argued against the use of the confession during Dripps’ preliminary hearing in August.
Dripps, of Caldwell, was charged with first-degree murder and rape after DNA collected by police matched that collected at the scene of Dodge’s 1996 murder. Dripps admitted to police he raped and killed Dodge, and that he did so alone. The confession led to the July exoneration of Christopher Tapp, who spent 20 years in prison for Dodge’s murder.
The motions were filed by Archibald and Elisa Massoth, an attorney from Payette who also is representing Dripps. The defense was granted funding by the state for a second attorney after the prosecution said it would pursue the death penalty in his case.
An affidavit and memorandum in support of the motion to suppress were sealed at the request of the defense attorneys. Archibald said they wanted to minimize coverage of the evidence they thought would bias a potential jury against their defendant.
During the preliminary hearing, Archibald revealed that Dripps was not read his Miranda rights by the officers, and instead given a form detailing his rights to ask for a counsel and remain silent. According to Archibald, the detectives told Dripps to sign the form and said it was “just protocol.” Archibald said Dripps spent a few seconds looking at the form before signing it.
Idaho Falls Police Detective Sage Albright told Archibald during cross-examination that he believed Dripps was capable of reading the form and that stating his rights aloud would be redundant.
Archibald also said Dripps had asked for an attorney during the interrogation and that officers continued to question him. According to Albright’s testimony, the detectives did stop questioning Dripps but restarted the interrogation when Dripps began talking on his own.
“Mr. Dripps continued to speak after he made that statement without any questions or prodding from us,” Albright said in court.
Magistrate Judge Andrew Woolf ruled in favor of the prosecution in August, saying giving Dripps the form to read could help him understand his rights better than having them spoken to him. That ruling only applied to the preliminary hearing, however.
The brief in support for the motion to change venue argues that local news coverage has made it impossible to find an impartial jury in eastern Idaho. Archibald and Massoth listed 99 stories from the Post Register, East Idaho News and Channel 8 covering the Dodge case going back to 2014.
“I would be surprised if there’s even one prospective juror in Bonneville County, Idaho, that has not heard or read something about the case and formed an opinion about the case,” Archibald wrote in an affidavit. “The constitutional presumption of innocence for Brian Dripps would be lost and forgotten with what the jurors have read and viewed about the case.”
The defense is asking the court to choose a jury from another county, stating its preference would be Ada or Canyon County. The attorneys argued it would be more affordable to transport the jury to Bonneville County, rather than transport witnesses, attorneys and others to another part of the state.
Carol Dodge, Angie’s mother, said she doubted moving the venue would make a difference in Dripps’ case.
“Angie’s case is just as well known over there as it is here,” Dodge said.
A hearing for the motion to suppress has been scheduled for 9 a.m. April 16 in the Bonneville County Courthouse. A jury trial is scheduled for June 2021.