Victor Santana
Photo: MONTGOMERY COUNTY JAIL
Photo: MONTGOMERY COUNTY JAIL

Prosecutors say man charged with shooting teens in garage knew rights

Prosecutors argued that Victor Santana, 64, understood his constitutional rights when he spoke with police the night of the shooting and then again a couple of months after. The defense contends he didn’t, saying that Santana’s first language is Spanish, and he didn’t fully understand police during the first interrogation, which was done in English.

Santana is accused of killing 17-year-old Dayton residents Devin Henderson and Javier Harrison and firing at a third teenager who survived on Aug. 28. Santana is charged with four counts of murder, five counts of felonious assault and one count of attempted murder.

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Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr. said the boys were shot and killed while trespassing in a vehicle in a detached garage they thought was abandoned at 848 Conners St., where they went to smoke marijuana.

The boys broke the law by trespassing, Heck said, but lethal force cannot be used against people who are only committing that offense.

No decision as to the interrogations was made Tuesday. Instead, Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Timothy O’Connell ordered the lawyers to write out their final arguments and submit them by Feb. 11. He will then make his ruling in writing as well, the judge said.

During the hearing, prosecutors called two witnesses: interpreter George Brown and Dayton Police Det. Melissa Schloss. Schloss said she felt confident that Santana understood his rights before she and another detective interviewed him the night of the shooting.

In fact, Schloss said, the first interview was ended about 35 minutes after it started because Santana said he wanted to speak with a lawyer.

However, Schloss also said Santana initially told police that he understood about 70 percent of what they were saying to him in general.

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A couple of months later in November, Santana voluntarily returned to the police station for a second interview, Schloss said. Brown interpreted that interview and testified that he believed Santana understood his rights.

The defense, in their motion, said that Santana had already invoked his right to counsel and that the second interview should not have taken place without a lawyer.

Santana’s house later was destroyed by an arsonist. He was not at the house at the time.

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