The attorney for a Dickinson man facing life in prison for allegedly sexually abusing a 6-year-old female relative asked a judge to suppress state’s evidence of a police interrogation video that shows his client confessing to the crime.
Gregory Paul Decker, 53, who is facing charges of continuous sexual abuse of a child, a Class AA felony, took the stand Tuesday before Southwest District Judge Dann Greenwood after watching his 30-minute interogation video from Jan. 1.
The video shows Decker admitting to the allegations without prompting and within minutes of being interviewed by Dickinson Police Cpl. Brandon Stockie. According to court documents, Decker allegedly touched the girl on her private areas “five or six” times during 2015.
Tuesday’s hearing represented one of two cases against Decker for continuous sexual abuse of a child. The other alleges that in 1997 and 1998, he engaged in approximately 10 sexual acts within another female relative who, at the time, was between 6 and 7 years old.
Decker was arrested the morning of Jan. 1, his birthday, just hours after Dickinson police were called to his home after reports of a fight.
Following an evening with family and friends to celebrate he and his wife’s birthdays, Decker was confronted about the alleged abuse and then punched in the face by a man, who has not been identified by the court other than being a family acquaintance. Decker was taken to CHI St. Joseph’s Health sometime after 12:30 a.m., received stitches around his eye and was then released to police, who took him to the Public Safety Center for questioning about the incident.
Decker’s attorney, Michael Hoffman, alleges in the motion to suppress that Decker did not understand that Stockie, the lead detective on the case, had read him his Miranda rights because he was in pain after being assaulted, was confused and had high anxiety, and knew he was being being called a child molester by family and friends. Hoffman also alleges Decker didn’t know why the detective was questioning him, and said the detective “stated he was there to get (Decker) help for (his) problem or addiction.”
Within about three minutes of being questioned by Stockie, and before the detective brought up the alleged sexual abuse, Decker asked him, “What do you want me to say, that I was molesting her?”
“Well is that what happened?” Stockie asked.
“Well, yeah,” Decker replied.
Decker and the girl’s mother were both questioned by Stockie, which led to Decker’s eventual arrest. After Decker admitted to sexually abusing the girl, he told Stockie he wanted to get help and said he had been sexually abused as a young child.
Decker told Stockie he feared that he would lose his wife and family, and that his home would be terrorized.
Hoffman argued that Stockie purposefully led Decker to believe he’d help him get counseling and didn’t lead him to believe he may be placed under arrest. Stockie said during questioning that he employed a ruse detectives frequently use to try and extract evidence from suspects, and that what he did was a legal interrogation tactic.
Hoffman later brought Decker’s intelligence into question, calling him a “vulnerable person.”
Assistant state’s attorney James Hope argued that because Decker was released by the hospital, he was fully capable of answering Stockie’s questions despite his injuries, and said Decker’s history shows no reason to believe he has any mental vulnerabilities.
Decker is being held at the Southwest Multi County Correction Center. He will have a pretrial conference June 14, and a jury trial is scheduled to begin July 6. He faces the maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. A pretrial conference for his other sexual abuse charge is scheduled for July 19.