FORT WORTH, Texas, Sept. 18 (UPI) -- Jurors in a Texas murder trial will hear a suspect's confessions made during a group therapy session, a judge ruled.
State District Judge Everett Young said Monday he will allow testimony about admissions made by Ryland Shane Absalon, now 45, while Absalon was enrolled in an alcohol- and substance-abuse treatment program at a now-closed facility in Richardson, the Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram reported Tuesday.
Absalon is accused of capital murder in the 1984 stabbing death of Ginger Hayden, then 18, a case that had languished in the Fort Worth Police Department's cold case unit until DNA evidence tied him to the crime. He was 17 at the time of the slaying, court documents said.
Absalon told participants in the treatment program "he had killed a girl, that he had stabbed a girl," two former program participants told the judge Friday.
Defense attorneys Gary Udashen and Katherine Borras asked the judge to proscribe the testimony, arguing Absalon was pressured into admitting the crime by the harsh program, and that he believed he would be protected by the confidentiality staff members promised him.
Prosecutor Lisa Callaghan argued that similar confessions have been admissible in other cases under the state's rules for evidence.
In testimony Tuesday, Udashen questioned Mike Garvin, a detective in 1984, and the possibility a suspected serial killer had murdered Hayden. He also questioned crime scene investigator Brad Patterson, who said he gathered evidence in the cases of a more than a half-dozen girls killed that year, believed at the time to be the work of a serial killer. Udashen then suggested to the jury a serial killer, and not Absalom, had killed Hayden.