A pretrial hearing for a former Binghamton University basketball player was held at the New County Courts Building in Binghamton Jan. 13 to determine the admissibility of evidence being presented by the district attorney’s office.
On Sept. 18, 2009, Derrick “D.J.” Rivera admitted to using a stolen debit card in an hour-long interview with the police. Rivera told the police that he had found the card and used it at Manley’s Mighty Mart and Walmart, charging nearly $700 to the card.
According to the charges against Rivera, BU student Ziena Antonios reported that her debit card had been stolen and used illegally on Sept. 14, 2009.
Rivera’s attorney, Mark Rappaport, had requested the interview with the police and was present in the room when it was conducted.
Rivera told police that he had felt guilty using the debit card and had thrown away hundreds of dollars in clothing in BU dumpsters the next morning.
Rivera also admitted to purchasing a television and giving it to a friend.
“I threw it all away,” Rivera said in a video taken of the interview, which was played at the hearing. “I felt bad about the situation. I’m not that kind of guy.”
Three days prior to his interview, Rivera spoke to BU police voluntarily when he arrived at the station’s loading dock with a teammate who had been summoned for questioning.
According to Deputy Police Chief Matthew Rossie of Binghamton’s New York State University Police, when asked why he was at the station, Rivera admitted to having taken the card, but said he had enough money to repay the victim in cash.
Rappaport argued at the hearing that the evidence should be inadmissible because he and his client had not been aware that the interview was being taped and the conversation on the dock had been held without Rivera being read his rights.
Broome County Judge Martin Smith ruled that the statements would be admissible in Rivera’s trial.
According to Rossie, hearings in which the defense is “challenging the validity or legality of the evidence” are common. Rossie said he was asked basic questions at the trial about Rivera’s admission, such as whether he had been read his Miranda rights.
“There was no need to Mirandize him when he was out on the dock,” Rossie said. “You don’t have to Mirandize if they are not in custody or being interrogated.”
District Attorney Gerald Mollen, who is prosecuting the case, gave a statement in which he said, “The case is pending. The basic information is the case is scheduled for March 21 and motions to suppress statements were denied in court.”
Rivera is charged with two felony counts of criminal possession of stolen property, fourth-degree felony grand larceny and a misdemeanor petit larceny charge, and faces up to 13 years in prison.
Rivera pleaded not guilty to all charges.