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Hearing delayed for kidnapping suspect Tang

BY BRENT GRIFFITHS | SEPTEMBER 10, 2012 6:30 AM

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The rest of a hearing for a man accused in a spring kidnapping in Iowa City was delayed on Sept. 7 after the proceeding conflicted with President Obama’s visit to the University of Iowa.

After nearly two hours of testimony in a hearing on Peng Tang’s motion to suppress evidence, 6th District Judge Ian Thornhill said law-enforcement witnesses and some security personnel had duties associated with Obama’s speech. Officials have yet to set a date for the rest of the hearing.

Tang was arrested on March 30 in connection with an alleged sexual assault on West Benton Street.
According to Iowa City police, the reported victim was showing Tang her apartment for a sublease when he locked her in the bedroom and tied her hands behind her back. Tang allegedly stuffed a towel in the woman’s mouth and assaulted her, taking explicit photos and threatening to post them on the Internet if she informed police.

During the hearing, Iowa City police officer Carlos Trevino said the reason the incident was classified as first-degree kidnapping — a Class A felony — was because of the alleged victim’s lack of ability to leave during the assault.

“It was relayed to us that the victim was not free to leave the bedroom where the sexual assault took place,” he said, who was among one of the lead officers during the arrest.

Trevino’s questioning was focused mainly on if Tang was aware of his Miranda rights before being questioned. However, Eric Tindal, one of Tang’s attorneys, said they wondered if Tang had understood what Trevino was asking of him.

“It was very clear to me that he understood my questions and responded in a timely manner and acceptable way,” Trevino said.

Tindal said he wondered if officials provided Tang a written Miranda-rights form in Mandarin in addition to the verbal English rights Trevino read to him.

“During my interactions [with Tang], it would have been tactically and logistically not feasible … so no [he was not],” Trevino said about the form.

He said he knew the police had written forms available in other languages but was unaware of where to locate ones in Mandarin.

Johnson County prosecutor Janet Lyness’ initial questioning focused on Tang’s ability to answer Trevino’s questions.

“He responded to all my questions in a timely manner and at no point asked me to clarify,” Trevino said.

Beyond the issue of Tang’s English, Lyness’ first witness, Lt. Doug Hart, investigations commander for the Iowa City police, contacted the Chinese consulate because Tang was not a U.S. citizen.

“I did an Internet search to try to locate the Chinese consulate office out of Chicago and made several phone calls that were unsuccessful,” Hart said.

He later said he was able to send a fax to the Chinese consulate in Chicago after several attempts, but told Tindal that, to his knowledge, Tang was not given an opportunity to speak with a native Mandarin speaker after he was arrested.

In addition to the kidnapping charge, Tang was accused in mid-April of sending a letter to the alleged victim, saying she would be rewarded if she changed her story.

Tang’s parents, Xuefan Tang, and Li Qiao, were also charged for asking the woman to change her story, but Lyness later dropped those charged, citing “cultural differences.”

Lyness said she has one more witness to call in the Sept. 7 hearing, and Tindal said he might also have a potential witness. Tang was previously scheduled for a pretrial conference for Oct. 5 and trial for Oct. 28, but the delay may put those dates into question.


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