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Farmhouse massacre: Court upholds ruling
Statements by suspect are deemed admissible
Ortegon F
Frank Ortegon - photo by Submitted
The Georgia Supreme Court has upheld a lower court’s ruling that statements made to authorities by one of three suspects in a 2006 Forsyth County murder case are admissible.

Marcin Sosniak asked the higher court earlier this year to consider whether Forsyth County Superior Court made a mistake in denying his request to exclude information he shared with local sheriff’s investigators during interviews in March 2006.

Sosniak, Jason McGhee and Frank Ortegon have pleaded not guilty in connection with a March 19, 2006, massacre at a farmhouse off Ronald Reagan Boulevard.

District Attorney Penny Penn is seeking the death penalty against all three men in the shooting deaths of four people at the hangout.

Each of the men, who are being tried separately, faces 20 charges. Trial dates have not been set.

Penn said Thursday that the Supreme Court’s opinion relates directly to the Sosniak case.

“It doesn’t have any significance in terms of the procedure of the other two because they’re still in different stages,” she said. “On this one, the judge could set a trial date. That would be the next step.”

Penn said hearings are pending in the Mcghee case and there are still some outstanding motions in Ortegon’s case.

“Neither of those cases has been certified by the trial judge, which is required by the unified appeal procedure, which is the process that the trial court goes through for death penalty cases,” she said. “At the conclusion of all the pre-trial motions, then the court certifies it.”

Attempts to reach Sosniak’s attorneys for comment were not successful.

Supreme Court documents show authorities picked up Sosniak in the early morning hours March 20, 2006, and took him to the sheriff’s criminal
investigation division office for a two-hour interview.

The high court reviewed video footage of each session.

According to court documents, the recording of the first meeting showed that Sosniak was not physically restrained and was told he was “not under arrest for anything.”

The court affirmed there was no merit to Sosniak’s contention that his statements were inadmissible because he was not told he was considered a suspect and was not informed about the nature of the crimes he was suspected of being involved in.

About 30 minutes before the interview ended, Sosniak admitted to hearing gunshots at the residence and an investigator read him his Miranda rights, documents show.

Sosniak also indicated he understood his rights and nodded affirmatively that he and the investigator could still talk, documents show.

“We find no error in the trial court’s ruling that this statement was given knowingly, freely and voluntarily after Sosniak had been properly advised of and had waived his Miranda rights,” the court wrote.

The documents go on to show that an attorney accompanied Sosniak during a second interview March 23, 2006.

During that session, Sosniak told investigators he could show them where at Lake Lanier the gun used in the attack was allegedly thrown. He also agreed to talk further when they returned from the site.

The court ruled that review of the interviews supports the trial court’s finding that, “Sosniak was given access to his lawyer and that, in his lawyer’s presence, Sosniak was read his Miranda rights, indicated that he understood them and waived the presence of counsel during the visit to the lake and the crime scene and during the interview afterward at the CID.”

His attorney eventually withdrew from the case and his new attorneys, Charles Haldi and William Finch, filed motions to suppress their client’s statements.

The court also ruled there was no merit to Sosniak’s contention that authorities led him to believe in the third interview, which occurred March 29, 2006, that he would go free if he cooperated.