Sarpy County, Nebraska – Nearly eighteen months after his two children were discovered suffocated in his Bellevue home, Adam Price was back in Sarpy County Court on Tuesday.
Tuesday, the defense team for the 37-year-old Bellevue man claimed that certain statements he made prior to his arrest should stay confidential.
A judge in the District Court of Sarpy County is debating whether the chat between Price and two California priests can be used during the trial.
Price is accused of murdering his two young daughters and then escaping to California during the weekend he had care of them. Theodore, 3, and Emily Price, 5, were found dead in his home on May 16, 2021, after a family friend visited his Bellevue residence for a welfare check at the request of the children’s Illinois-based mother.
It was revealed subsequently that they were suffocated.
When the bodies of the children were discovered, Price was nowhere to be found. In Reno, Nevada, a license plate reader picked up his automobile.
Price was eventually apprehended in Pacifica, California, but apparently not before speaking with two priests: Father Jerome Foley of St. Peter’s Catholic Church and Father Ulysses d’Aquila.
Did they converse with him in a confessional booth, in passing by the church, or elsewhere? Investigators are remaining silent and have sealed their arguments. Next month, the state intends to depose the priests, meaning they will give sworn testimony.
Through court petitions, Price’s defense team has contended that what was stated was secret and cannot be used at trial.
Professor of law at Creighton University Collin Mangrum told 6 News that the priest/penitent privilege is one of the oldest privileges in existence; this is when a person repents of their misdeeds and asks a priest for forgiveness. When this occurs, the priest must keep the conversation private and is not compelled by law to reveal what was said.
The state does not specify why it feels Price’s statements do not fit under this category, but attorneys are prepared to explain why this case is an exception.
According to Mangrum, the determination of whether the talks constitute evidence boils down to two factors: Was the conversation confidential, and were others present to hear it? Was the objective of the conversation to repent, or was it simply to pass the time?
As this matter remains unresolved, the timing of Price’s trial is uncertain. According to court documents, it was originally scheduled to begin in March but was postponed when the defense asked a continuance.
Price has been incarcerated in the Sarpy County Jail since his transfer from California on May 27, 2021. He did not speak during the hearing and sat in handcuffs and leg chains at the defense table. His appearance differs from his mugshot. His facial hair is shorter, and he sports a buzz cut.
If convicted, the Bellevue man faces two counts of first-degree murder and a maximum life sentence. His bond was established at $2,500,000.