The day a 4-year-old Hampton boy, Codi Bigsby, was reported missing in late January, his father spent several hours talking with police detectives.
In fact, Cory Jamar Bigsby Jr. ended up staying at the Hampton Police headquarters for more than three days, with court documents saying he told officers about times he left his young boys home alone.
He now faces 30 criminal counts, many of them felony child neglect charges that stemmed from his alleged admissions to police.
But Bigsby’s attorneys want his statements to police ruled inadmissible from the trial. They contend police violated Bigsby’s constitutional rights, including that detectives rebuffed his request to go home and failed to get him a lawyer when he twice asked for one in strong terms.
An evidence suppression hearing was scheduled Tuesday in Hampton Circuit Court to address the matter, but the hearing was postponed because of procedural hiccups.
An attorney for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Kent Porter, asserted that Bigsby’s lawyers didn’t follow federal law in requesting testimony from the FBI agents who, along with the Hampton police detectives, interrogated Bigsby.
As such, Porter asked a judge to throw out the defense’s subpoenas for agents to testify at Tuesday’s hearing.
Porter said Bigsby’s lawyers included a last name for one agent on a subpoena, but didn’t name the others at all. Moreover, Porter said, federal agents can’t testify in court without express authorization from the U.S. Attorney’s Office after a formal process to request their testimony.
But Bigsby’s lawyer, Curtis Brown, told a judge that his office requested the FBI agent’s names from federal prosecutors but was rebuffed. It’s wrong, he asserted, to fail to provide the names and then “blame the defendant because we don’t have them.”
“They come into a state case and then they’re going to stand behind some shield?” Brown said. “That’s not right for the defendant ... What kind of case is this? If you sit there and interrogate the man for two days, don’t come in and tell the judge you can’t talk about what you did.”
But Circuit Court Judge James C. Hawks granted Porter’s motion to quash the subpoenas, asking Brown to work with Porter in the coming weeks to properly request the information and get the needed authorization for the agents’ testimony.
Brown then asked for a delay in the case to allow him time to do that, with Hawks postponing the hearing until Oct. 13.
More than seven months after he was reported missing, 4-year-old Codi Bigsby has not been found. Cory Bigsby told police he saw his son in his bed at about 2 a.m. on Jan. 31, but when he woke up later that day, the boy was nowhere to be found.
But Hampton Police have been openly skeptical of that story. The FBI was closely involved in the Bigsby case from day one, providing the police with technological tools for the search and investigation as well as federal agents to interrogate Bigsby.
An FBI agent administered a lie detector test to Bigsby on the night he reported him missing. Later that night, about 14 hours into his stay, Bigsby and a Hampton police detective, got into a heated argument about the test results.
At one point, Bigsby said in a raised voice, “Get me a (expletive) lawyer,” then asked again for a lawyer seven minutes later, according to a synopsis of the case by Bigsby’s prior lawyer.
Hampton Police Chief Mark Talbot said later that Bigsby’s request for a lawyer should have been honored, and the chief removed the lead detective, Daniel Smith, from the case. Still, Hampton prosecutors have said Bigsby’s statements that led to the child neglect charges occurred before he asked for a lawyer.
Peter Dujardin, 757-247-4749, firstname.lastname@example.org