ANNAPOLIS – The Maryland Court of Special Appeals upheld the conviction Wednesday of a Gaithersburg man who sexually abused his two stepdaughters repeatedly over a period of five years.
The court rejected Donald Wayne Alexander’s claim that police coerced him into confessing that he abused the girls from 1991 to 1996 — abuse that he later denied on the stand.
A three-judge panel of the court ruled that Alexander was “mentally capable” when he made the statement and that police detectives who interviewed him repeatedly said he could leave at any time.
Alexander was convicted April 9, 1997, in Montgomery County Circuit Court of five counts of third-degree sexual offense, four counts of second-degree rape and two counts of child abuse. He received concurrent sentences ranging from 10 to 20 years in jail.
His wife and her two daughters had gone to police on Sept. 25, 1996, to report that Alexander had abused the girls, beginning in fifth or sixth grade.
Montgomery County Police Detective Sally Magee approached him the next day as he was walking his dog and asked him to come to the police station to answer a few questions, which he did.
Magee testified that she told Alexander he was not in custody and could leave the station at anytime, showing him the exit and allowing him three breaks in the 90-minute interview to smoke or go to the bathroom.
When Magee told Alexander that the two girls were “hurting” and, “it would be helpful to them if he would talk about what happened,” he started to cry. He admitted having intercourse with one child, according to court documents, but denied any sexual relations with the younger one.
That statement was videotaped and watched by Detective Richard Klocko. When Alexander returned to the station the next day, Klocko read him his Miranda rights before telling him, “We need you to tell us what happened so we can put this behind us and move on.”
Alexander told Klocko he had sex with one of the girls and fondled the other, according to court records. Klocko wrote down Alexander’s statement and gave it to him to read over.
Alexander took the statement outside and smoked a cigarette before returning to sign it. He added a Z-shaped mark at the end so that nothing could be added to it, telling officers that was the procedure he used in his job as a security guard.
When he got the signed confession, Klocko arrested Alexander.
Klocko testified that he engaged in a technique known as “minimizing,” where the interrogator tries to portray a suspect’s actions as less serious than they really are. He acknowledged that he had not told Alexander before coming to the police station that he would be arrested.
Alexander testified in court that he never sexually abused either girl and said the statement to Klocko was made after he had taken Valium and drank several beers. “Nothing was real,” he testified.
He said he cooperated because Klocko said he could go home if he did.
“Well, once he told me, you know, that I was hurting the children and that I needed to tell him what he wanted to hear,” Alexander said. “He didn’t say tell me the truth — we done tried that. He said tell me what I want to hear.”
But the appeals court said Circuit Judge William P. Turner acted correctly when he allowed the statement to be used in court. It also said that Alexander knew what he was saying when he confessed.
The public defender representing Alexander could not be reached Wednesday to see if he would appeal the ruling.