Downs' Defense Moves To Quash More Evidence

May 12, 1991|By Maria Archangelo | Maria Archangelo,Staff writer

WESTMINSTER — Defense attorneys for a Mount Airy man accused of shooting his wife while she slept return to the courtroom tomorrow to seek suppression of more evidence they say was obtained improperly.

Edwin F. Downs Jr., 31, is charged with shooting and killing his wife, Anne Rita Downs, 30, around midnight Dec. 19 at the couple's Wind Ridge Road home.

Last month, Downs' lawyers, Michael D. Mason and Jane Macht of Rockville, succeeded in having suppressed some of the statements made by their client and some evidence gathered by police the morning after the killing.

Downs called Montgomery County police the morning of the shooting, after he had reported being shot at by a man in a black Camaro while driving along Route 27 delivering papers for the Washington Post.

Downs told police he was concerned about his wife andchildren. When a state trooper arrived at the couple's home, he found Anne Downs dead in the master bedroom.

The defense attorneys argued that police suspected Downs of the killing hours before they toldhim of their suspicions and before they advised him of his rights toan attorney and to silence.

After three days of hearings on pretrial motions filed by Mason and Macht, Carroll Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck ruled to exclude any statements made by Downs to police between 5 a.m. and 12:50 p.m. Dec. 19.

Combings from Downs' hair and clothes that were obtained from him at the police station also will be suppressed because police should have first acquired a warrant, Beck said in his opinion.

The judge ruled that statements Downs made before 5 a.m. can be heard by a jury, and that search and seizure warrants executed by state police on Downs' home and van are valid.

Based on those rulings, defense attorneys and Carroll State's Attorney Thomas E. Hickman will return to Beck's courtroom this week to debate the suppression of additional evidence against Downs.

Mason and Macht contend that because Beck ruled some statements inadmissible, there may now be grounds to suppress some physical evidence that is the "fruit of illegally obtained statements."

Hickman and Assistant State's Attorney Eileen McInerny will argue that the evidence is admissible.

Mason and Macht also have filed a motion to have the trial --scheduled for May 20 -- moved out of Carroll County.

The defense attorneys claim newspaper publicity surrounding the motions hearings could prejudice a county jury.

Mason and Macht also have filed motions to suppress testimony by a California man who identified Downs in a photo lineup as having bought a gun from him. Police had traced the gun to the California man's father.

A hearing on that motion is expected to take place shortly before the trial.

Since his arrest, Downs has been held at the Carroll County Detention Center withoutbail.

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