Did lies hinder case?

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Monday, October 8, 2007

The first man arrested in the Sept. 28 robbery and rape near Monterey Stadium did nothing but muddy the case and owes the victims and their families an apology, police say.

Antonio D. Polland, 32, no fixed address, was arrested Sept. 29 at 618 Linn St., Janesville, after a 14-year-old girl and her 14-year-old boyfriend were robbed after a football game. The girl was raped.

But after more investigation, evidence pointed to a different suspect.

Kenneth D. Jarrett, 20, no fixed address, was arrested Oct. 1 on a probation violation and on Friday was arrested on charges of first-degree sexual assault and two counts of armed robbery. Jarrett is expected in court today.

Polland was released from jail Oct. 2.

Polland declined to talk to a Janesville Gazette reporter this morning, saying his lawyer had advised him not to speak to anyone.

Janesville police Lt. Tim Hiers said Polland lied about his identity and his whereabouts the night of the assault, which took place after a Parker High School football game.

“If he would have been truthful from the beginning—let alone even identifying himself—the case would have gone very differently,” Hiers said.

Others around Polland also lied about his identity, further confusing the investigation, Deputy Chief Dave Moore said.

Sharon Forman, who lives at the Linn Street home, lied to police about her relationship with Polland and the fact that he was hiding in her home, Moore said.

Police had followed Polland to the home, but Forman denied he was inside, Moore said.

“Officers followed him into the home and maintained surveillance,” Moore said. “We knew he was in there.”

Forman was arrested on a charge of obstruction, and the arrest still stands, Hiers said.

Four elementary school-age children whom Polland later identified during a television interview as his children, also denied knowing him, Moore said.

“It clearly seemed orchestrated,” Moore said.

Police say all of it helped convince them at the time that Polland had committed the crime and delayed them in arresting the right man.

The evidence that led to Polland’s arrest included an athletic jacket left at the scene as well as Newport cigarettes. Several independent witnesses told police they had seen Polland in the jacket. During the interrogation, Polland told police he smoked Newports.

Polland said he was alone during the time of the crime and was on the Monterey Bridge near the scene.

Police are standing by Polland’s arrest and the department’s decision to keep him in jail, Moore said.

“This is the way law enforcement and police departments across this state and the nation work,” Moore said. “We take the facts available. In this case, the facts and evidence provided probable cause—in fact substantially.”

The decision to hold Polland in jail was a matter of public safety, Hiers said. Because of the violent nature of the crime and the risk of Polland—who doesn’t have a permanent home—running from police made it necessary to detain him.

“If we don’t make that arrest, and that offender reoffends, we are under greater scrutiny,” Hiers said. “We’ve created another innocent victim. I wouldn’t be able to sleep.”

Hiers said Janesville police wouldn’t do anything differently.

“We would do it again in the same circumstances,” Hiers said.

It’s frustrating for police after such a crime when the public focus is on the suspect, rather than the victim, Hiers said.

“It gets frustrating at times,” he said. “We still have a very young victim.”

Last updated: 9:06 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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