Tate lawyers seek to exclude key evidence from trial

July 22, 1992|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Staff Writer

Lawyers for Brian A. Tate argued yesterday that two key pieces of evidence in his upcoming murder trial -- a pair of brass knuckles and a wallet belonging to the victim, both found in the youth's bathroom -- should be excluded because they were obtained during an illegal search.

Mr. Tate, 16, a former quarterback at Broadneck Senior High School, is charged as an adult with the Feb. 16 murder of Jerry Lee Haines, 19. Mr. Haines had been dating a 16-year-old girl who had previously dated Mr. Tate.

According to court records, investigators believe Mr. Tate waited outside for Mr. Haines at the victim's home in Cape St. Claire. When Mr. Haines arrived and began to climb out of his truck, Mr. Tate allegedly stabbed him more than 20 times, then dragged the body to a neighbor's yard and buried it under a pile of leaves.

George S. Lantzas, attorney for Mr. Tate, told Circuit Court Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. that three Anne Arundel County police detectives went to the Tate residence two days after Mr. Tate's arrest and threatened his father, Arthur C. Tate Jr., with arrest if he did not let them search his son's bedroom.

But the officers, who testified yesterday and Monday, said they did not threaten to arrest the elder Mr. Tate. Rather, they pointed out that he could be prosecuted for obstruction of justice and accessory after the fact if he destroyed the evidence.

Homicide Detective Dirk Reinhart said police had received information from a confidential informant, someone imprisoned along with Brian Tate at the Anne Arundel County Detention Center, that the wallet and brass knuckles were at the house.

Mr. Lantzas said the informant overheard a telephone conversation Brian Tate was having at the detention center with another lawyer, Daniel J. Bartolini, a conversation that should have been confidential under the attorney-client privilege.

Mr. Lantzas asked the court to compel disclosure of the informant's identity and the promises made to him as the result of his cooperation. He also asked the court to suppress two towels, allegedly spattered with blood, taken during an initial search of the Tate home on Feb. 25 and which were not specified on the search warrant.

But most of the testimony and argument during the hearing, which began Monday and continues this morning, centered on the second search of the Tate home, on Feb. 27. Police said the search was done with Arthur Tate's consent, while defense lawyers countered it was coerced by his threatened arrest, and that Arthur Tate did not have the legal right to consent to a search of his son's room.

Police and the father gave markedly different accounts of what led to the search.

Detective Reinhart said he and two other officers went to the Tate house in the 600 block of Broadneck Road about 4:30 on Feb. 27. He told Arthur Tate that he received information there was evidence in the house, "and Brian had made several telephone calls to his father, asking his father to dispose of these items."

Detective Reinhart said he never threatened the father with arrest. "I informed Mr. [Arthur] Tate that if he removed the property, he could be subject to prosecution for obstruction of justice and accessory after the fact," Detective Reinhart said.

But Arthur Tate testified yesterday that "Detective Reinhart threatened me with arrest at least a half a dozen times."

Arthur Tate said he went into his office and called his attorney, Mr. Bartolini, to ask his advice. Mr. Bartolini testified that he felt there was a conflict, as he was also representing Brian Tate, so he told the father, "You have to do what you're comfortable with, Arthur."

Mr. Bartolini denied telling Arthur Tate that he should go ahead and consent to the search, "because I represented Brian Tate, and that would have been against his interests to do so."

Detective Reinhart said Arthur Tate consented to the search after he spoke with Mr. Bartolini, and led them to his son's third-floor bedroom. The door was locked from the inside, and while the father was looking for a key, one of the detectives jimmied it.

They went into the bedroom with Arthur Tate following, when "Mr. Tate stated, 'If I were you guys, I would start in the bathroom,' " Detective Reinhart said.

After a short search, Detective Reinhart found the brass knuckles and wallet in a bathroom vanity behind the bottom drawer.

Arthur Tate testified that he knew the items were in the bathroom, not because his son told him, but because Mr. Bartolini told him they were there two days earlier.

Arguments on the motions continue in Circuit Court this morning.

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