Last updated: July 07. 2014 11:38PM - 4347 Views
By - rdupuis@timesleader.com

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WILKES-BARRE — A Shavertown woman accused of being drunk when she took her young son trick-or-treating last Halloween is asking a judge to suppress evidence, including alleged admissions to police, statements made by her husband and any mention of a past driving under the influence conviction.

Erin A. McLaughlin, 36, faces child-endangerment and drunken-driving charges as well as recklessly endangering another person.

Kingston police said McLaughlin’s husband called police when she tried to drive away with the 6-year-old boy after trick-or-treating on Oct. 31.

McLaughlin’s charges include DUI: highest rate after police said tests revealed her blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) to be .291 percent. State law considers someone legally intoxicated if their BAC is 0.08 percent or higher.

The case is being prosecuted by the state Attorney General’s Office due to a conflict in the Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office, First Assistant District Attorney Sam Sanguedolce said. McLaughlin is a cousin of DA Stefanie Salavantis.

According to a pre-trial motion filed Monday by defense attorney Mark W. Bufalino:

• While in custody, McLaughlin was not advised by police of her right to counsel, nor of her right to remain silent, nor that anything she said would be used against her at trial.

Therefore, McLaughlin “did not intelligently or knowingly waive” her Constitutional rights, Bufalino wrote, and any alleged admissions made while in custody should be inadmissible.

• Any prior offenses “are remote in time, are not relevant and do not bear any similarity to the present offenses” against McLaughlin, Bufalino wrote.

McLaughlin, known at the time as Erin Evers, was arrested for DUI in September 2010 after Swoyersville police said they found her unresponsive behind the wheel of an illegally parked vehicle in the 300 block of Miller Street. The case ended with her entering the county’s Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program, which allowed the charge to be expunged at the completion of the six-month program.

• Bufalino also seeks to prevent introduction of “alleged prior bad acts,” but does not elaborate on what they might entail, only stating that McLaughlin has not been charged or convicted and admission of such material would violate McLaughlin’s rights as well as Pennsylvania rules of evidence.

• At a preliminary hearing, prosecutors improperly introduced hearsay evidence regarding statements made by the defendant’s husband, Mark McLaughlin, Bufalino wrote, adding that any statements she made to her husband are precluded by spousal privilege.

“Mr. McLaughlin has elected not to testify against his wife in this matter,” he added, and attempts to introduce such evidence would constitute a direct or surreptitious means of skirting spousal privilege.

• Bufalino said a portable breath test purportedly administered to McLaughlin is inadmissible.

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