By Julie Manganis
---- — SALEM — Lawyers for a troubled Salem mother and Gloucester native charged with trying to kill her young children last year are asking a judge to bar prosecutors from using anything she said to police, as well as evidence they collected from her, when the case goes to trial, saying that Tanicia Goodwin was under extreme emotional stress at the time.
Goodwin, 26, is facing two counts of attempted murder, a charge of arson and multiple assault counts, all stemming from the March 18, 2012, incidents inside her apartment at 12 Pope St., Salem, in the Salem Heights apartment complex.
That’s where Goodwin, police and prosecutors allege, slashed the throats of her son, then 8, and daughter, then 3, doused them with gasoline and then set fire to the apartment, after removing the door handle.
Goodwin left with the younger child, stopped briefly at another apartment, and then went, alone, to the Salem Police station, covered in soot, blood and lighter fluid. Police say she smashed a glass display case in the lobby, slumped down against a wall, and then repeatedly apologized, over and over, saying she had to “protect” her children.
Salem police officers and a detective asked her name and what had happened to her children.
It was that question that touched off what the defense argues was an unlawful interrogation. And while Goodwin was subsequently read her Miranda rights, Goodwin’s lawyers say that warning was meaningless, not only because Goodwin was not rational at the time, but that the earlier questioning had already elicited incriminating statements from her.
It’s another indication that Goodwin’s state of mind at the time will be a major issue as the case goes forward.
Goodwin’s family members have alluded to prior emotional difficulties. And Goodwin has spent much of her time since last March hospitalized.
After her arrest, she was sent to a secure state-run mental health facility, the Solomon Carter Fuller Center in Boston. She was eventually transferred to MCI Framingham, but last month, at the request of prison officials, was moved back to the Fuller center, where she’s currently being held.
At the time of her questioning, her lawyers, Steven VanDyke and Denise Regan argue, Goodwin “was experiencing a period of extreme emotional turmoil and distress.”
“She was hysterical and crying and incapable of rational thought and intelligent decision-making,” VanDyke wrote in a motion filed yesterday in Salem Superior Court. “In brief, she was unable to make a free and voluntary statement.”
The lawyers also cite other grounds for suppression, including the delay in reading Goodwin her rights and the fact that she was not given a chance to make a telephone call.
Prosecutors are expected to file a response to the motion prior to a hearing, which will likely happen later this spring. A scheduling hearing will take place on April 23.
Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.