Crime

Motion to suppress confession in Bettig murder denied

George Ishler is walked from the Centre County Courthouse by sheriff’s deputies on May 9, 2016. George Ishler Jr. walks toward the courthouse on Aug 31 in Bellefonte. A motion filed by Ishler to suppress his confession in the murder case of Penn State professor Ronald Bettig was denied Thursday.
George Ishler is walked from the Centre County Courthouse by sheriff’s deputies on May 9, 2016. George Ishler Jr. walks toward the courthouse on Aug 31 in Bellefonte. A motion filed by Ishler to suppress his confession in the murder case of Penn State professor Ronald Bettig was denied Thursday. Centre Daily Times, file

A motion filed by George Ishler seeking to suppress his reported confession in the murder investigation of Penn State professor Ronald Bettig has been denied by a Centre County judge.

Ishler, 40, is charged with the murder of Penn State professor Ronald Bettig. Bettig was reported missing in August 2016. His body was found a few days later at the bottom of a quarry in Potter Township.

Ishler and Danelle Geier, 33, were charged in his death, accused of conspiring and planning to kill Bettig.

Ishler filed several motions in November, including motions to suppress the confession, to sever his trial from Geier, appoint experts and an investigator to assist in his defense and sought a viewing of the crime scene with his counsel. County Judge Pamela Ruest in March denied the request to sever and view the crime scene, but approved allocating $1,500 for an investigator.

In the ruling on the motion to suppress dated May 18, the findings of fact state that Ishler was questioned regarding his role in Bettig’s death after a four-hour interview at the state police Rockview station, which began the night of August 18, 2016, and lasted until early August 19. He was arrested following the interview.

The findings of fact report that Ishler was read his Miranda rights at the station, which he reportedly indicated he understood. No Miranda waiver was signed at that time and officers testified to these facts.

Ishler was interviewed in the barracks, the court documents said, and was not handcuffed or locked in. The officers interviewing him were in plainclothes with no weapons visible. He was also allowed three smoke breaks during the course of the interview, during which he was not detained.

At the time of the interview, the findings of fact said, Geier had already made a statement to police saying she and Ishler had planned to murder Bettig by pushing him into the quarry. When presented with Geier’s story, which reportedly differed from Ishler’s, he would allegedly change his story to fit that evidence.

During the last smoke break, Ishler reportedly told the detective he wanted to see his “old lady” one more time then he would “come clean,” the order said. He reportedly “then made a full and incriminating statement implicating himself and Geier in the murder of Bettig.”

Ishler was reportedly told it was unlikely that he would be able to see his girlfriend, according to testimony, and was never affirmatively promised anything. After making his alleged confession, Ishler did not ask to see or speak to his girlfriend.

Ishler alleged that his confession was in violation of his Miranda rights and obtained through coercion, the order said, and should have been given a rereading of his rights after each break. Ruest’s opinion, however, stated the record shows he was given his rights and, given that the breaks were in the same immediate area with the same officers regarding the same subject, renewed warnings were unnecessary.

He was also never promised one last visit with his girlfriend prior to the reported confession, the order said.

A motion for postponement was approved earlier in May to move the trial from the June term to the August term, according to court documents.

Jeremy Hartley: 814-231-4616, @JJHartleyNews

  Comments