A. Missouri law says a tacit (unspoken) admission is made whenever someone
"fails to respond to or significantly acquiesces in the import of an inculpatory statement (e.g., by making a equivocal, ambivalent, or evasive response) when the inculpatory statement (1) was made in the presence and hearing of the accused, (2) was sufficiently direct, as would naturally call for a reply, and (3) was not made at a judicial proceeding, or while the accused was in custody or under arrest."
A few minutes into their June 5, 2001, phone conversation, Kelly moved from whining about her aclohol- and drug-induced memory problems to her recent contact with the Jackson County Sheriff's Department:
They've called a bunch again. They called while I was in rehab. They showed up out there. [2-second pause] Yeah. [4-second pause] I don't understand, like, seriously, what all went on, or whatever, and I seriously — I hate to say this, but why, seriously why did you have to kill her? What was the whole fucking big deal? Could you explain that to me? [5-second pause] Because I don't get it. [3-second pause] Seriously. [2-second pause] Justin's dead for no reason; she's dead for no reason. It's just all fucked up. [1-second pause] And for some reason they're talking to me, because you won't talk. So I'm fucked. And it makes me look horrible because everybody already knows that I'm a fucking crackhead, that I'm a cokehead, that I'm an alcoholic. [1-second pause] And I don't remember shit. And if I try to talk to them, nothing's going to add up. [3-second pause] So, I mean, if you could seriously explain to me as to why you actually felt the need to kill her, then that would really help me feel better about the whole fucking thing. [8-second pause] I mean, was there seriously any reason to all of this?
Byron didn't speak for three seconds, then said:
We shouldn't talk about this.
From a legal standpoint, Kelly's questions called for direct answers, which Byron didn't give, so the courts say Byron made a tacit admission. In the eyes of the law, it makes no difference to point out how Byron used language encouraging Kelly to be "up front" with authorities, how he "told them everything about this," or how important context is to understanding people's responses to different circumstances (in this case, that Byron had been avoiding Kelly for months; her call woke him up around midnight, while he was very sick; that Kelly's reputation for making up outrageous nonsense was something experience had taught Byron to take in stride; and that he may not even have been listening as she launched into an apparent drug-fueled rant.
Byron's response to Kelly can either be taken as an admission or as his way of avoiding indulging in the latest in a long line of bizarre stunts by a deranged, unpredictable young woman. Sensible arguments can be made either way. Facts and evidence gathered since Byron's trial, however, make the argument for admission much weaker.