A Lane County jury will be allowed to hear incriminating statements that a Springfield man made to police after he allegedly killed his girlfriend in November, a judge ruled Friday.
Jury selection in Robert Allen Cromwell's murder trial is scheduled to begin Tuesday in Lane County Circuit Court. He stands accused of using a baseball bat to fatally beat his girlfriend, 26-year-old Eugene resident Casey Lynn Wright.
Police said Cromwell, 33, confessed to the slaying during an initial interview with Springfield police Detective Don Myers.
But Cromwell didn't have a lawyer present when he allegedly admitted to the crime, and his attorney asked Judge Jodie Mooney to prevent prosecutors from sharing the incriminating statements with a jury.
Mooney denied that request on Friday, ruling that Cromwell had spoken voluntarily with Myers after being advised of his rights to remain silent and to legal counsel.
"He was not coerced," Mooney said. "He actually pursued the interview."
Mooney further pointed out that Cromwell was the person who initially brought Wright's killing to the attention of police.
Cromwell showed up at the emergency room of McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center shortly after 2 a.m. on Nov. 2, 2013, and told a triage nurse that he had just killed Wright and had tried to commit suicide, police said.
The nurse testified Thursday during a pretrial hearing that Cromwell immediately made it known at the hospital that he wanted to speak with police because he had killed his girlfriend. Cromwell had superficial wrist wounds that required only minor medical treatment, the nurse testified.
Police said they went to Cromwell's home in the 800 block of 18th Street shortly after he arrived at the hospital and found Wright's body in one of the bedrooms. A blood-smeared baseball bat also was found in the house, police said.
Cromwell allegedly told Myers that after Wright had fallen asleep in his bed, he looked at a list of messages on her cellphone and concluded that she had been in contact with other men.
Cromwell said that after checking the phone, he picked up a baseball bat and struck Wright in the head approximately four times, according to police.
If convicted of murdering Wright, Cromwell will be sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years.
Barring a last-minute plea deal, Cromwell's will be the third murder trial this year in Lane County Circuit Court.
A jury in March convicted Johan Gillette, 38, of aggravated murder in the deaths of his father, James Gillette, and the elder Gillette's domestic partner, Anne Dhu McLucas, a retired professor and dean of the University of Oregon School of Music.
Johan Gillette was sentenced to two consecutive life terms and will never be eligible for parole.
On Thursday, a jury found David Ray Taylor guilty of three counts of aggravated murder for killing Eugene resident Celestino Gutierrez Jr. in 2012. The sentencing phase of Taylor's trial begins Tuesday. Taylor, 58, could be sentenced to death.
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