March 18, 2019 07:18 PM
LYONS, N.Y. (WHEC) - A Rochester police sergeant shed new light Monday on the investigation into a man accused of killing a woman and her toddler in Sodus last year.
Alberto Reyes appeared in Wayne County Court Monday for a Huntley hearing. The hearing was meant to establish if statements he made to police could be used in his trial.
Reyes was charged with murder and evidence tampering for the deaths of his girlfriend Selena Hidalgo-Calderon and her one-year-old son Owen.
He also faces federal charges for repeatedly entering the country illegally from Mexico after being deported.
Selena Hidalgo-Calderon was discovered dead in the woods on a Sodus farm in May of 2018. The remains of little Owen weren't found until October.
It was after Selena was discovered but while Owen was still missing that Wayne County investigators brought Sgt. Gustavo Venosa of the Rochester Police Department's Major Crimes Unit, a native Spanish speaker, to interrogate Reyes.
In court Monday, Venosa testified how, over more than six hours of questioning, Reyes went from telling him he knew nothing of what happened to Selena or Owen to declaring he discovered Selena dead and admitting he had hidden her body in some woods.
Reyes' attorney, public defender Andy Correia, quizzed Venosa on whether Reyes had been willingly speaking to him or was pressured to talk.
Venosa testified that Reyes had been advised of his right not to speak, or to have a lawyer present, and waived that right. Correia pointed out occasions during the interview when Reyes seemed to say he'd talked enough.
Wayne County Assistant District Attorney Christine Callanan insisted Reyes never formally refused to speak.
"It does have to be an unequivocal statement," she said. "It has to be firm. So that's why there was discussion of what language was used, what was said, what timing was used and so, again, that will be up to the judge to review all the facts and circumstances."
Correia also questioned whether Venosa pressured Reyes to unlock his cell phone, which Venosa said Reyes did without objection when Venosa asked him to. Correia also signaled misgivings about the delay between the time investigators got access to the phone and the time they obtained a formal search warrant to examine its contents.
He also asked about the time frame during which deputies got warrants to search for evidence in an outhouse near the couple's home.
Those issues were expected to be addressed in a future hearing.
Venosa made no apologies for misleading statements he made to Reyes during the conversation. To get Reyes talking he acknowledged falsely telling Reyes that investigators had surveillance camera images of him carrying a baby and had information from Reyes' phone telling where he'd been.
"That's a common interview technique used by investigators," said Callanan. "Sometimes when you confront them with different pieces of evidence in any case, it may work to your benefit and they could then have a different story if you say that there is additional evidence."
Reyes is scheduled to return to court for a continuation of the hearing and for further issues to be addressed on April 2. His trial is scheduled for June.
Updated: March 18, 2019 07:18 PM
Created: March 18, 2019 07:12 AM
Copyright 2019 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company