HANFORD — Accused killer Joe Alcala is seeking to suppress incriminating statements he made to authorities after Deborah Lynn Jessup, 48, was found stabbed to death at his home in January 2016, court records show.
A motion filed Jan. 17 by Alcala’s attorney, Kevin G. Little, claims statements Alcala made after he was detained by deputies, and any related evidence, should be thrown out because they were obtained in violation of his constitutional rights.
Kings County Superior Court Judge Thomas De Santos will hear the motion on March 7.
Alcala was arrested on Jan. 26, 2016, after he reportedly called 911 to report a nonresponsive woman at his home in the 15500 block of 14th Avenue. According to court records, Alcala told 911 dispatchers there had been a fight the previous night involving knives.
The recent filing includes a report from first-responding Kings County Sheriff’s deputies.
A narrative by Deputy Richard Oliver, who was the first to arrive, says Alcala had several cuts on this throat and dried blood stains on his shirt. Oliver asked if the victim required medical assistance.
“She’s in the back bedroom, she’s dead,” Alcala reportedly said.
Deputies asked Alcala to take a seat outside while deputies entered the home. First responders found what appeared to be dried blood in the dining room and kitchen floors.
Oliver reportedly entered the master bedroom and saw the outline of a person on the bed under a blue-and-white Los Angeles Dodgers blanket. When he removed the blanket, Oliver wrote, he found a woman with blood around her chest and what appeared to be stab wounds. The woman had no pulse and was cold to the touch, suggesting she’d been dead for several hours.
Alcala reportedly told Oliver that the woman was a friend going through a divorce who was visiting his home. Alcala told deputies that they went to bed the previous night and Jessup was unresponsive when he woke up.
A report by Detective Kevin Smyers said Alcala later told deputies that he and Jessup had an argument, during which Jessup grabbed a knife in the kitchen and started slashing at him. The fight reportedly moved to the bedroom where Alcala told Smyres he stabbed Jessup on the bed.
“At that point in the interview Alcala said he wanted a lawyer and the interview was terminated,” Smyres wrote.
The filing claims Alcala’s comments were not “knowing and voluntary” and were a product of “undue coercion” and governmental misconduct. The motion also alleges Alcala was not advised of his Miranda rights, which allow a suspect to remain silent and have an attorney present during any questioning.
Alcala was arrested and charged with first-degree murder with a special allegation of using a deadly weapon. Alcala pleaded not guilty to the charges and remains in the Kings County Jail.
Kings County Deputy District Attorney Phil Esbenshade filed a response asking the court to deny the request. The response claims Alacala’s initial statements, including his 911 call, were made before he was detained and were not coerced. The statement about stabbing Jessup was made after he had been handcuffed and informed of his rights, Esbenshade wrote.