Chautauqua founder seeks to suppress arrest statementsWarren Nelson's attorney said statements Nelson made to a sheriff’s investigator should be suppressed because his client had asked whether he should have an attorney present.
By: Mark Stodghill, Duluth News Tribune
WASHBURN — A judge denied a request today to suppress statements the founder of Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua made when questioned about his alleged sexual assault of a woman.
Warren Paul Nelson, 61, artistic director of the Big Top Chautauqua, was charged in Bayfield County Circuit Court on Feb. 6 with second-degree assault and substantial battery, both felonies. He entered not guilty pleas to both charges last month.
Defense attorney Gene Linehan argued that statements Nelson made to a Bayfield County Sheriff’s investigator should be suppressed because his client had asked the investigator whether he should have an attorney present.
Linehan argued that Nelson’s Constitutional rights were violated because “he wasn’t properly ‘Mirandized.’ ’’
“In a dialog [with the investigator] six times he asked ‘Do you think I should have an attorney?’ Linehan said. “The judge held that he was properly read his Miranda rights and that he did not ‘unequivocally’ request an attorney — the key word being ‘unequivocally.’ ’’
Linehan said pretrial news coverage of the case will make it difficult to seat a fair and impartial jury for the case. Consequently, within the next 10 days he intends to file a motion to move the trial to another county.
According to the criminal complaint, Nelson entered the alleged victim’s home at 6:20 p.m. on Jan. 26. She said he was “all over her,’’ grabbing her breasts and pinning her against a countertop inside the doorway. She said she told him to leave, but he continued to push himself on her and attempted to remove her clothes.
She said Nelson told her she was a beautiful woman and inspired him so much that he wanted to write a song about her.
The woman said she suffered bruises and a fractured tooth when the defendant shoved her against the door.
Nelson told the investigator that he stopped at the woman’s residence and he did hug and kiss her but not in a forceful manner.
A trial that had been scheduled to start on June 8 has been continued until July 29.