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Accused Cop Killer Pleads Not Guilty

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The man accused of killing a Mendota Heights police officer pleaded not guilty Monday morning, and his defense is seeking a change of venue because of the level of media coverage surrounding his case.

The plea was entered by defense attorneys for Brian Fitch Sr. during a hearing in Dakota County Court.

Investigators say Fitch admitted to killing Officer Scott Patrick during a traffic stop in July.

A criminal complaint states Fitch was at a hospital while receiving medical treatment for several gunshot wounds he received in a shootout with police. There, he allegedly told an officer, "Just so you know I hate cops, and I'm guilty."

A grand jury indicted Fitch on one count of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted first-degree murder. The indictment also charges Fitch with illegally possessing a gun. All of the charges were combined into one case that will be prosecuted in Dakota County.

Joe Tamburino, a prominent Twin Cities attorney, said that Fitch is likely planning on challenging the constitutionality of the "confession" investigators say he gave while in the hospital. A day after the initial alleged confession, Fitch gave a statement to two police investigators. It's that second statement that the defense wants thrown out, saying investigators did not read Fitch his Miranda rights.

"If they didn't Mirandize him and he is still in that hospital under police custody for the next day, they should have mirandized him no doubt," Tamburino said.

Even if the statement is thrown out, the prosecution still has an awful lot to work with, including the "I hate cops and I'm guilty" statement, as well as eyewitness accounts from officers in the shootout.

The Dakota County Attorney's Office has not released a statement on whether or not Fitch was read his rights.

Tamburino is also considering a possible challenge of the cases being combined. He said they should be tried separately.

Fitch was still in a wheelchair on Oct. 20. He suffered a number of injuries during a shootout with police prior to his capture. He was struck by bullets eight times.

Fitch's attorney said she doesn't know how he's doing physically or why he's still in a wheelchair because she hadn't talked with his medical providers.

There is a contested omnibus hearing scheduled for Nov. 17. His trial is tentatively scheduled to start on Jan. 12, 2015. Fitch is currently in jail in Oak Park Heights.

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