Lawyer Seeks To Suppress Arson Suspect’s Statement

December 8, 2018

WILKES-BARRE — The defense for Laflin arson suspect Preston Bonnett on Friday filed a motion to suppress statements he made to police during questioning. Bonnett, 28, is awaiting trial on murder and arson charges alleging he set fire to his ex-girlfriend’s house on Oct. 25, 2017, killing her three children: Erik Dupree, 16, Devon Major, 12, and Ezekiel Major, 7. The motion by Carbondale attorney Bernard J. Brown said police questioned Bonnett on three occasions and Bonnett requested an attorney during the second meeting, which took place at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility while investigators were collecting his DNA. Although Bonnett requested an attorney during that interview on Oct. 26, 2017, police again attempted to question him in an administrative office of the jail on Oct. 31, 2017, the motion said. The motion said the statements in that interview should be suppressed because Bonnett had already invoked his Miranda rights. Brown argues Bonnett’s statements in the first interview should also be suppressed because he appeared “drowsy and lethargic” and was “unaware of the reason he was being questioned.” Court documents filed by prosecutors have not alleged Bonnett confessed to starting the fire. But Bonnett asserted he had not been having problems with the boys’ mother, Susan Major, and maintained he had not gone to her house at all the day of the fire, according to previous filings. In fact, prosecutors said Major reported in the weeks leading up to the fire, Bonnett posted pornographic images of her on the family home’s windows and threw a bottle through a back window of the home at 60 Oakwood Drive. Surveillance footage from the home also shows a man prosecutors say was Bonnett smoking a cigarette and shining a light around the back porch moments before the fire broke out. Prosecutors allege Bonnett set the fire because of an ongoing dispute he had with Major, who kicked him out of her house during the summer of 2017. Bonnett was charged with access device fraud because of materials used to make fraudulent credit cards found during the ejection, according to prosecutors. Bonnett is being held without bail at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility. His trial is set for Jan. 28. Contact the writer: jhalpin@citizensvoice.com 570-821-2058