Pretrial hearings for Watton armed robbery suspects

The two men allegedly involved in an armed robbery this past summer were in Baraga County Circuit Court Tuesday for pretrial hearings. ABC 10 Keweenaw Bureau reporter Sam Ali was in the courtroom where new details on the case were brought to light.

Donovan Waupoose and Bernard Fish are suspected of robbing two Watton residents at gunpoint in August 2013 while posing as U.S. Marshals.

Waupoose’s lawyer, Aaron Schenk, was present via telephone. Schenk said that he wasn’t sure he and his client had decided on how to move forward on the case and that he and Baraga County Prosecutor Joseph O’Leary would come up with a resolution on that matter.

Fish’s attorney, David Gemignani, was requesting a motion to dismiss the statements that Fish made to Michigan State Police troopers during his arrival at the Baraga County Jail because he was not read his Miranda rights and the statements were given involuntarily.

O’Leary called one of the transporting officers to the stand and asked the officer to go into detail on the accusations that Fish had made upon learning of his charges. The officer claimed that Fish began questioning his arrest and the legitimacy of the case.

The officer then talked about Fish bringing up two other men, one being the son of the owner of the home that they robbed, and how the entire incident was a setup to obtain drugs and money that were present in the home. According to the officer, Fish also spoke about a woman who was kept hidden at the house.

The officer said he repeatedly advised Fish to stop talking about the case and to speak with his attorney about these statements.

Gemignani then called Fish to the stand to tell his side of the story. Fish did not dispute any of the facts that were given, but he did say the officers were asking follow-up questions about the women and the location of the drugs in the house. Fish added that he was not read his Miranda rights either.

In his closing statement, Gemignani stated that he felt the officers engaged Fish in conversation purposefully. “We have a warrant handed to Mr. Fish. Any questions? Well, that’s an invite to say whatever you want at that time about the warrant, anything about the case. It’s an invite to start talking,” Gemignani said.

Judge Charles Goodman deemed that Fish initiated the dialogue between himself and the officers. Citing several previous precedents, he ruled that the reading of his Miranda rights was not required and the statements he made were voluntary, allowing them to be used as a part of the case.

An April 14th trial date has been set.