MADISON, Wis. - A judge on Wednesday threw out parts of a confession given to police by an Argyle man accused of killing his children by setting his house on fire.
Armin Wand III faces four counts of first-degree intentional homicide and one charge each of attempted homicide and arson. The fire last September killed Wand's three children, ages 3, 5 and 7, as well as his unborn child. His wife, Sharon Wand, and their 2-year-old daughter survived the fire.
Police questioned Armin Wand on three occasions -- Sept. 7, 8 and 9.
Defense attorneys argued in a motion hearing Wednesday that police didn't read Wand his Miranda rights on Sept. 8 and Sept. 9, and they promised him things that they shouldn't have in exchange for a confession.
It was revealed in court Wednesday that investigators told Wand they would help him if he confessed, and they implied that the charges wouldn't be as severe if he answered their questions.
"The agents' statements regarding Mr. Wand would be facing three murder charges unless he talks was a quite explicit promise that he was essentially going to be charged and he could escape from being charged if he would just talk," said Jason Daane, Wand's attorney.
Prosecutors argued that Wand was never under arrest when he spoke to police on Sept. 8 and that he was always free to leave and not speak. Prosecutors said the statements made by investigators were appropriate and pointed out that police often lie to suspects to get to the truth.
"Mr. Wand clearly knew what was occurring. He was being questioned by law enforcement officers regarding potential criminal activity. He knew that, and he understood that," said prosecutor Richard Dufour.
Because of the claims officers made indicating they would help Wand face lesser penalties in exchange for a confession, Judge Thomas Vale ruled Wednesday that all questioning from Sept. 8 would be thrown out and could not be used as evidence.
But the judge said statements Wand made to police on the other two days were admissible as evidence because Wand was read his Miranda rights after he was arrested, and he knew his rights but spoke freely when he was questioned.
A jury from outside Lafayette County will hear the case against Wand. Jury selection for Wand's trial will be held in Marathon County Feb. 22. The jury will then be taken to Lafayette County and sequestered during the trial.
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