Court Rules Invalid ‘confession’ in Jewish Community Center Fire

A Westchester County judge ruled here yesterday that the alleged confession to the police by 17-year-old Thomas A. Ruppert, that he set fire to the Yonkers Jewish Community Center last December, is invalid. Twelve persons were killed in the blaze.

Judge Robert E. Dempsey based his ruling on recent United States Supreme Court guidelines requiring that a defendant be told of his right to remain silent, and of his right to have a lawyer. Judge Dempsey also ordered a hearing to determine the constitutionality of a remaining fragment of evidence against the youth. This is a statement he made to a man not connected with the police. Although Judge Dempsey did not name the third person, he was believed to be the executive director of the Jewish Center.

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