Ex-slaying suspect's bid to protect evidence denied

June 01, 1994|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Sun Staff Writer

A Circuit Court judge yesterday denied a request for a court order to protect evidence gathered against a Baltimore man who had been charged in the slaying last fall of an Arnold nightclub owner.

Lawyers for Edward Wendell McLeod, 43, of the 1800 block of Division Street had sought the order because they say he may be charged a second time in the death of Joanne Shuey Valentine.

Mrs. Valentine, 47, was shot in the early morning of Sept. 26 by someone who followed her into the driveway of her home in the 500 block of Broadwater Road, police said.

McLeod was charged with first-degree murder Nov. 10 after police arrested him for shoplifting at a Pasadena Safeway store and found the .38-caliber Taurus revolver used in the killing during a search of his 1978 Chevy Monte Carlo.

But state's attorney Frank R. Weathersbee dropped the murder charge Feb. 7, saying there wasn't enough evidence to convict McLeod.

Mark Blumberg and Carroll McCabe, assistant public defenders, asked Circuit Court Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. for a court order March 11 prohibiting police and prosecutors from destroying any evidence gathered in the original murder case against McLeod.

They said that they believe their client is still a prime suspect in the slaying. Without such an order, evidence that could exonerate McLeod, who is serving time on unrelated theft charges, might be lost or destroyed, they said.

But Judge Thieme ruled yesterday that there is neither legal precedent nor constitutional basis for requiring the state to hold on to evidence in a case never to be tried.

"Unless the defendant can show bad faith on the part of the police, failure to preserve potentially useful evidence does not constitute a denial of due process of law," the judge wrote.

The Valentine family is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case.

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