Associated Press Questioning was illegal

KALISPELL - Prosecutors agreed Monday that charges should be dismissed against a Hungry Horse teen-ager accused of drowning a 6-year-old girl last July.

Flathead County Attorney Ted Esch said a February decision by the Montana Supreme Court, that the confession of 14-year-old Anthony Evans could not be used against him, leaves too little evidence to convict Evans of murder.

Evans was charged in the death of Megan Lamanna, a neighbor who was reported missing July 6. Searchers soon found the girl's bicycle less than two blocks from her home, where it had been tossed over an embankment about 40 yards from the Middle Fork of the Flathead River.

Lamanna's body was found about a mile downstream the next morning. An autopsy showed that the girl had been held under water.

A weeklong investigation revealed that witnesses had seen Evans with Lamanna on the day she was reported missing. Evans admitted killing her after a 2 1/2-hour interrogation by law officers.

The 6-0 Supreme Court ruling overturned a district judge's ruling that Evans' confession was given voluntarily. The court said Evans waived his rights without consent of his mother or an opportunity to discuss the matter with an attorney.

During the interrogation in a windowless room, Evans was never advised he was free to leave and officers never allowed him to talk to his mother, who was in another room nearby and who had asked to meet with him, the court noted.

The justices said the circumstances meant Evans was a youth taken into custody for questioning and, as such, any waiver of his rights without a parent's approval or a lawyer's counsel was illegal.

Since the decision, Esch said, sheriff's investigators have tried to find other evidence against Evans, but without success. A hearing on the motion to dismiss, first filed by the defense and now joined by Esch, is scheduled Tuesday.

However, Esch said Evans still should be tried as an adult for rape and aggravated kidnapping in an unrelated case.

That case involves a 9-year-old girl that Evans allegedly lured behind the Martin City fire hall in June 1998. There, prosecutors contend, he drew a handgun, tied the girl to a tree and raped her. He also allegedly smashed the wheels of her bike with a rock, and threatened her if she told anyone.

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