Cold case murder suspect Konnie Glidden is seeking to have her confession thrown out, arguing that investigators coerced her into making false statements about the 1992 killing of sailor James Horton.
Her attorney, Kate Landess of Columbia, recently filed a motion seeking a court hearing to determine whether investigators violated Glidden’s civil rights in obtaining the confession and building their case.
No date has been set for the hearing. Landess said she must question the investigators in open court, and she has been told that the federal agent who obtained Glidden’s confession is currently out of the country fighting pirates somewhere.
Prosecutors could not immediately be reached for comment today on the motion.
Glidden, a 40-year-old former Navy medic, is awaiting trial on charges of murder, kidnapping and rape — a felony trifecta that could put her behind bars for life.
She is one of three people accused of participating in the 1992 beating, gang rape and killing of sailor James Horton in Berkeley County. Her own words put her front and center in the case and implicated three others in the grisly killing.
But Glidden now maintains that the confession she gave two years ago was a pack of lies, the product of an emotional meltdown after eight hours of grueling interrogation by NCIS investigators. Glidden has said those lies ruined her reputation and cost her a good-paying job and a spacious Goose Creek home.
In her motion, Landess states that Glidden’s confession was the product of investigators browbeating her until the point where her mind went to “a place far-far away” and she concocted a story just to make them stop.
Landess said the confession was riddled with inaccuracies that contradict other statements and evidence in the case. She also accuses agents of failing to pursue leads that didn’t fit their theory of the case and failing to turn over documents and evidence that could prove Glidden innocent.
Landess’ motion also states that the lead agent on the case, Stanley Garland of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, “methodically and systematically manipulated Glidden’s statements and has even falsified documents and facts during the course of his investigation.”
Garland declined to comment this morning.
Glidden insists that she never met Horton, barely knew her codefendants and had nothing to do with his killing.
Horton, 22, was stationed at the former Charleston Naval Base, assigned to the ocean minesweeper Exultant, when his body was found in a drainage ditch off Sheep Island Road on Nov. 14, 1992.
He lay face down in about 4 feet of water with his hands tied behind his back. He had been shot in the chest, struck on the head with a blunt object and sexually assaulted.
Glidden became a suspect after NCIS re-opened the case in late 2009. The following July, Berkeley County authorities arrested her; Thomas Solheim, 53, of Montauk, N.Y.; Charles Welty, 38, of Missoula, Mont.; Orval Douglas Emery, 40, of Hemet, Calif.
Solheim was a gunner’s mate who served aboard the Exultant along with Emery, an engineman, and Horton, a boatswain’s mate. Welty, an electrician’s mate, was assigned to the Frank Cable. Glidden was a hospital corpsman at the former Navy Hospital on Rivers Avenue.
Late last year, prosecutors dropped the charges against Emory, citing a lack of evidence.
No trial date has been set for Glidden and her codefendants.