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Judge denies supression of police statement

An attempt to suppress all of James Armagost's statements made during an initial interview with a River Falls investigator was denied early this week.

Armagost, 45, Hammond, is accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a teenage girl he coached in sports.

St. Croix County Judge Edward Vlack delivered his decision Monday afternoon, denying the motion to suppress those statements. Officers were not required to read Armagost his Miranda rights at the time he made the statements and they will be allowed in court, Vlack said. He also issued a written ruling on the matter.

The ruling is the result of a motion hearing in late January. Armagost's attorney's goal was to have all or portions of Armagost's statements to the investigator suppressed for a possible future trial. The taped conversation was played for the courtroom during the motion hearing.

During a taped conversation with River Falls Police investigator Charles Golden on Nov. 5, 2009, Armagost is told that a 14-year-old girl claimed she had had an inappropriate relationship with her coach.

On several occasions Golden states that he knows the facts of what happened, but was asking Armagost for his side of the story.

Eventually Armagost appears to admit to inappropriate touching, kissing and texting with the teenager.

Armagost is arrested as the tape ends.

During the motion hearing, Armagost's attorney Aaron Nelson asked why his client was told he was a "witness" and not a "suspect" when the investigator stopped by the Armagost home.

Nelson also asked why Armagost was not read his Miranda rights during the course of questioning.

Because Armagost was not yet in custody, Golden said, the Miranda rights were not required.

Armagost is accused of repeated sexual assault of a child and using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime. He has pleaded not guilty and posted $15,000 cash bail.

The result of a Nov. 4 investigation by sheriff's deputies and River Falls police officers alleges that, between Feb. 1 and Aug. 31, 2009, Armagost exchanged e-mail messages with a 15-year-old girl that led to a romantic relationship.

The complaint accuses Armagost of kissing and inappropriately touching the teenager a number of times at secluded locations, including his car.

The teenager told investigators she knew Armagost because he was her hockey and softball coach.

Each of the felony charges carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison and $100,000 fine.

Attorneys will meet with Vlack next week to discuss whether Armagost will enter a plea or go to trial.