Woman convicted after her confession to her pastor was used as evidence in court

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Peggy Valentine was convicted of first-degree murder and home invasion -- Photo Credit: Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office

Ajury in Louisiana found a 44-year-old woman guilty of attempted first-degree murder and home invasion after she stabbed her fiancé’s other girlfriend with a box-cutter. Per WAFB, Peggy Valentine’s confession to her pastor in the wake of the incident was used as evidence in court.

But her attorney, David Belfield III, argued there was “no sign of forced entry, no doors broken, no windows broken” when Valentine went to the victim’s home on May 4, 2022. “Somebody had to open the door,” Belfield said.

Belfield also claimed Valentine did not go to the house uninvited, adding that she was trying to patch things up after the victim and her fiancé welcomed a baby. “When she found out about the baby, she went to the house with a relative and brought the baby some clothing,” Belfield claimed. “In her mind, they’re still trying to work the relationship out.”

But the prosecutor, Ascension Parish Assistant District Attorney Brant Mayer, argued Valentine forced her way into the home and assaulted the victim as she was sleeping. Belfield, however, claimed Valentine was invited into the home before she and the victim got into a struggle.

In the wake of the incident, Valentine is said to have gotten in touch with her pastor. The pastor, who is also a Major for the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office, advised the convicted woman to inform investigators about what had occurred. Belfield also argued Valentine willingly spoke to the investigators because she felt she acted out of self-defense.

“It was obvious they had interrogated Peggy for a moment. She was very, very distraught at the time. She stopped talking to him, shut down and demanded to speak to her pastor,” her attorney claimed.

Valentine is said to have spoken to her pastor in the presence of another deputy. And though she admitted that she went to the house in an attempt to catch the victim with her fiancé, her attorney tried to have that conversation redacted on the grounds of pastor privilege, WAFB reported.

“Are you working as a pastor or a deputy? He never once told her, ‘Peggy, you have to be careful in what you say because I’m working as a police officer. What you say will be used against you,’” Belfield argued. “You wouldn’t sit in the room while she was talking to her lawyer, then why would you sit in the room talking to her pastor?”

Belfield also cited three points for the pastor protection clause, firstly saying that the pastor must be a certified religious leader. Valentine’s attorney secondly argued that “there was no question” Valentine was “seeking spiritual guidance.” He lastly claimed the conversation has to be in confidentiality.

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