By Taylor Smith
WOODLAND, CA – The trial for a murder in 2009 charged to Robert Spurlin proceeded in Yolo County Superior Court on Friday morning with Deputy Public Defender Aram Davtyan accusing the prosecution of unfair treatment and unwarranted accusation of his client.
The case had been unresolved for 13 years and counting, and the trial is set to resume later this month.
According to court records, Spurlin was accused of murdering his girlfriend in 2009 when he was a known methamphetamine addict. He allegedly did not call the police when he found her body because he did not know she was deceased until the next day.
His attorney claimed he did not immediately suspect anything was wrong because the victim had a frequent habit of drinking too much until she was ill or unconscious, much like the state she was in when he found her.
DPD Davtyan presented testimonies from people closest to the victim and the accused for the court to hear.
Then, Deputy District Attorney Preston Schaub explained the facts of the case from the prosecution’s standpoint, and all pointed directly toward the accused.
He detailed that a bloody head injury to the victim that would have caused messy blood splatters all over the house; the lack of mess in the house led them to believe that only someone who lived in or spent extended periods of time in the house with the victim could have committed the murder as they had plenty of time to clean up the scene.
DDA Schaub focused on the intake questions that the accused was asked during the heat of his investigation, in which he committed a “Freudian slip” and said to a correctional deputy “the girlfriend whom I murdered,” when answering a casual question while his guard was down.
The court has allegedly been using this as the basis of Spurlin’s guilt for the last 13 years of this case.
It was at this point that DPD Davtyan addressed the beginning of Schaub’s argument by explaining that there were several people spending extended periods of time casually at the home of the victim and that fact did not truly narrow the suspect pool down to only Spurlin.
He focused on the so-called Freudian slip. Davtyan explained it was entirely unjust that they have been using this slipped statement as Spurlin’s admission of guilt for murder—such a great charge warrants much more concrete evidence.
“We do not consider Freudian slips to be credible,” he said to Judge Tom Dyer in claiming that the circumstances of the interrogation and the frustration the investigators felt with their lack of progress caused them to make Spurlin uncomfortable enough to say something that he did not intend or was not the truth.
Especially considering Spurlin was a known meth addict and was “obviously high on meth” while he was being interrogated, DPD Davtyan argued his word was surely not to be taken as credible, and that he deserved an equitable investigation relative to the others involved in this case.
He explained it would have only been fair to give him a chance to advocate for himself when he was in the right mental state to do so rather than to try and convince him to admit to something they cannot be sure he did.
Davtyan also insisted Spurlin was the first suspect that the police had and they made the evidence fit him rather than “grilling” anyone else or even following up on their alibis; he claimed they defaulted to Spurlin because his drug addiction made him an easy target for a prime suspect.
He reminded the court the victim in this case displayed very sporadic and dangerous behaviors the accused constantly dealt with; the court took this as his motivation to kill the victim, but DPD Davtyan explained “everything he has done has been to preserve her life and walk her off the ledge every time she tried to kill herself.”
Because of this frequent dangerous behavior, he added, Spurlin did not feel the need to call the ambulance immediately after noticing the victim was unconscious because he had called several times in the past and it never turned out to be a true emergency.
Judge Dyer did not seem to address the lack of credibility for the terms against the accused, but did take into account the testimonies given in the beginning of the hearing.