By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
The confession of a Gillette man who ran naked into the snow after being contacted by police regarding allegations he sexually abused his daughter was properly admitted as evidence in his trial, Wyoming’s Supreme Court ruled Thursday.
The court unanimously upheld the conviction of Nicholas Jendersen, rejecting his arguments that he didn’t know what he was doing when he waived his rights to remain silent when speaking with police in 2016.
“Mr. Jendersen knowingly and intelligently waived his rights and confessed to law enforcement that he sexually abused his daughter,” the opinion said.
The case stems from Jendersen’s conviction in 2019 on four counts of sexual abuse. According to the ruling, Jendersen on Christmas Eve 2016 admitted to his brother-in-law that he had been inappropriately touching his daughter.
The brother-in-law advised Jendersen to tell his wife. When he did, she gathered the couple’s children and took them to the brother-in-law’s home while the brother-in-law contacted the Gillette Police Department.
When police arrived at Jendersen’s home, they found Jenderson walking out of his apartment naked. He slipped past officers and was tasered twice, but was able to run out the back door and into the snow, where he was tackled.
Police said as they took him to the hospital, Jendersen made odd comments, apologized to police and sang to himself.
An officer met Jendersen at the hospital and advised him of his rights to remain silent, at which point Jendersen nodded. Jendersen told the officer he had touched his daughter inappropriately a number of times and described the abuse in detail.
A few days later, Jendersen asked to speak to the police officer again, he was again advised of his rights and he again confessed in detail to the abuse.
Jendersen asked that his confession be suppressed and two forensic psychiatrists disagreed as to whether Jendersen was having a psychotic episode while he made his confession, which would mean he did not knowingly waive his rights to remain silent.
The trial court ruled Jendersen voluntarily and knowingly surrender his right to silence and he was sent to trial, where he was found guilty on four counts of sexual abuse.
The Supreme Court opinion, written by Justice Kate Fox, said the trial court in Jendersen’s case accurately found that he was aware of the consequences of waiving his rights to remain silent.
“As a matter of law, the court correctly applied the facts and concluded Mr. Jendersen was aware of the nature of the right to remain silent and the consequences of his decision to abandon that right,” the opinion said.
Justices also rejected Jendersen’s argument that his defense attorneys did not effectively represent him.