A Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office employee heard part of a privileged conversation between a boy accused of shooting a teacher and classmate at Noblesville West Middle School and his attorney, a law firm said Thursday.
The Sheriff’s Office said it wasn’t intentional.
Christopher Eskew, one of the suspect’s lawyers, said the conversation took place at the Hamilton County juvenile detention center at one of the firm’s first meetings with the 13-year-old.
A corrections officer unwittingly tuned in to the conversation between the suspect and his attorney on May 26, a day after the shooting, according to a written statement provided by Sheriff Mark Bowen’s office.
Eskew Law doesn’t believe matter will affect the case, Eskew said.
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The Sheriff’s Office said Officer Stephanie Kingen tried to activate a camera in the visitation room out of security concerns, but it wasn’t working. In order to turn on the camera, she had to activate the intercom. She got the camera running, but after realizing she could hear the conversation, she turned the volume down so the talk could no longer be heard.
Staff members reported the incident to a supervisor. Bowen told the Hamilton County prosecutor’s office, which then reached out to the suspect’s attorneys, the Sheriff’s Office said.
A call to Hamilton County Prosecutor D. Lee Buckingham’s office wasn’t immediately returned Thursday.
An internal affairs investigation done by the Sheriff’s Office determined in June that there was no indication the officer had intentionally listened to the conversation. It also found that no information was shared outside the facility, the Sheriff’s Office said.
The officer was suspended for three days and was retrained on how to operate the control room.
The intercom system has since been deactivated and the camera repaired.
The boy is accused of shooting teacher Jason Seaman and 13-year-old Ella Whistler the morning of May 25. What prompted the shooting remains unclear.
The IndyStar is not naming the 13-year-old boy because he is not being tried as an adult.
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