Defense Tries To Block Evidence

Downs' Lawyers Seek To Add On To Suppression Ruling For Murder Trial

May 15, 1991|By Maria Archangelo | Maria Archangelo,Staff writer

WESTMINSTER — Attorneys for a Mount Airy man accused of shooting his wife while she slept await a decision by a Circuit Court judge on whether additional evidence against their client will be withheld from a jury.

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

Last month, Down's lawyers, Michael D. Mason and Jane Macht of Rockville, Montgomery County, succeeded in getting suppressed some of their client's statements, along with some evidence gathered by policeon the morning after the slaying.

The attorneys went back to court Monday to ask Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. to suppress more evidence before the trial begins next week.

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

Following up on the ruling by Beck, filling in last week while Burns was onvacation, Macht argued Monday that because statements made to the state police were ruled inadmissible, the evidence gathered as a resultof those statements also should be suppressed.

Among the suppressed statements is a conversation among state police Cpl. Wayne Moffatt, Tfc. Barry Leese and Downs. According to a transcript of the conversation, Downs told the officers that he went to Harold's Gun Shop in Frederick the day before the killing to look at guns but didn't purchase one.

A few days later, Leese went to the gun shop and subpoenaed the store's invoices from the day before the killing and found a Dec. 18 invoice for a gun sale to Downs.

The police also received copies of the Downs' checking account and found a $17.10 check writtento the gun shop the same day.

Macht maintains that the store's invoices, copies of the checks and the testimony of two witnesses from the gun shop should be suppressed because the statements that led to their discovery will not be allowed, a legal theory known as "fruit of the poisoned tree."

But Carroll State's Attorney Thomas E. Hickman argued that just because Beck ruled the statements should be suppressed, it doesn't mean the evidence necessarily is poisoned.

Burnsreserved judgment on the defense motion until he is able to read allof the testimony from the previous suppression hearings.

The judge denied a defense motion to move the trial -- scheduled to start Monday -- out of Carroll County.

The defense argued that newspaper publicity surrounding the motions hearings could prejudice a county jury.

Burns said the defense could renew its motion if it proves impossible to find a unbiased jury next week.

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