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CPAAAN Investigation: Norfolk  







CPAAAN Investigation Norfolk began when a call came in to 911 reporting that a dead body had been found near a local recreation center. CPAAAN members and Citizen Academy students took the roles of the investigators. Keith Fentress and Jowain Brinkley, portraying the Lead Detectives arrived at the scene and found a deceased male victim with a gunshot wound slumped over in a car. Security Officers AnnaBelle Eversole, Yvette Brown, and Constance Rich immediately secured the crime scene with yellow tape; they were responsible for maintaining the crime scene and preventing the crowd from crossing the tape. This proved to be challenging because of the ongoing interruptions by the media, an upset family member, and many bystanders, some of whom were quite persistent and demanding. The Forensics team arrived to perform a thorough search for clues and to carefully document the scene. Present were the Forensics photographer, Susan Ross, and the crime scene sketch artist, David Krigbaum. In addition the two evidence collectors, Ann Powell and Michelle Hoke searched for items including any type of victim identification, bullet cartridges, or cell phone. This began to look like a drug related homicide when drug paraphernalia was located.

The lessons learned from this were the importance of securing the crime scene and the specific roles of forensic detectives and primary investigators.


Part Two: The Canvass and Interviews  

  CPAAAN members acting as police officers canvassed a number of houses in the area surrounding the location of the drug related homicide. CPAAAN board members played the roles of the residents who “were behind the door”. In some cases, no one was at home, or there was no answer. There were some citizens who said they did not want to get involved, or they did not see or hear anything. It was a successful canvass, however, in that there was some pertinent information obtained, including a good description of a vehicle that was observed in the area about that time, and the fact that one white male was seen running away from the recreation center. One of the residents said he overheard an argument over money and thought he heard a name called out. He also heard three or four gunshots. The murder victim was identified as Mr. Dead Body from the vehicle registration found in his car at the crime scene. His sister, Alice Body (Patty Lindsey) came to the crime scene upon hearing of the shooting and confirmed this. His girlfriend, Mary Lamb (Frankie Donohue) was on the phone with him when she heard screaming, shots fired and then silence. Both of them were invited to be interviewed by the lead Homicide Detectives Keith Fentress and Ron McEntee. While the tone of the interview was conversational, and those interviewed appeared to be cooperating, there was a question whether they were revealing all that they knew about the lifestyle of the deceased.

The training areas for this session included the proper documentation of witness statements and the importance of good interview skills. Learning objectives included the role of good public relations and how that impacts the ability to obtain information from citizens which might help solve a crime.


Part Three: Identifying the Suspect Known as “JT”



Part Three focused on identifying the suspect known as “JT”. Previous interviews by Lead Homicide Detectives with Dead Body’s girlfriend, Mary Lamb revealed that Mr. Dead Body had gone to the Recreation Center to purchase cocaine. This was supported by evidence at the crime scene; cocaine was found next to the car and a crack pipe was found in the car. During the neighborhood canvass one of the residents revealed that he heard men arguing over money and the name “JT” called out prior to hearing the gunshots.

 

An informant described a white male known as ”JT” who sells drugs and lives in the vicinity of the center The informant knows where he lives and identifies his car. He has purchased crack cocaine from “JT” in the past, and picked him out of a photo lineup. The informant agreed to make a buy in order to establish probable cause. He is provided with marked money and is observed from the time he leaves the investigator until he enters the house and returns.

The evidence was evaluated and the decision made to write a Search Warrant. The components of a search warrant need to be sufficient to ensure that the Magistrate will agree that there was probable cause. A four page Affidavit for a Search Warrant was prepared which contains the investigator’s statement along with the information that was acquired from interviews, canvasses, observed purchases, statement of credibility, sources of information, and the informant’s statement. Such documents support a prudent person’s belief that a crime has been committed or that contraband would be found at the location being searched.


Part Four: Execution of Search Warrant
 



The CPAAAN investigation resulted in the execution of a search warrant for a drug related homicide, and the arrest of the suspect. Captain David Huffman described the numerous preparations involved with this process. A typical briefing was re-enacted to demonstrate the planning and proper technique. During the briefing the number of officers and vehicles needed was determined; the specific point of the entry decided, a diagram of the layout was reviewed and potential dangers such as weapons, and volatile materials were considered. When Captain Huffman and his team entered the house, they searched and secured it; the alleged perpetrator was found and taken into custody. The CPAAAN members viewed a night vision video of the tactical entry. After the entry team indicated the site was secure, the members went to the scene to observe the search.

Investigators Kim Carney and Ann Powell collected and documented evidence. Crime artist David Krigbaum sketched a diagram of the room, and noted the location of each piece of evidence found. Photographer Ann Ross took pictures of evidence where it was found. Initial search found one supply of drugs packaged for sale. When a second search was done an additional larger supply of crack cocaine was discovered. Jason T. Green, played by Fred Gallup, was arrested, searched, and advised of his Miranda rights. A drug dog was then dispatched to screen the suspect’s vehicle; the dog alerted, providing probable cause for a search of the vehicle. Further evidence including ammunition was found under the passenger seat of the vehicle.


Part Five: Suspect Interrogation and Witness Interview
 
 


The investigation focused on the Miranda warning, interrogation of the suspect, and an additional interview of a witness. Sgt. McConnaghy showed the proper technique for advising the suspect of his rights under Miranda, going through each of the 7 questions on the Legal Rights Advice Form. After advising the suspect of his Miranda rights, Lead Investigators Ron McEntee and Keith Fentress interviewed the suspect, Jason T. Green, played by Fred Gallup. The suspect provided some information initially and was reasonably cooperative, but decided during the interview that he did not want to talk to the investigators any further, and asked to talk to a lawyer. The interrogation ended at that point.

Another witness, Wilma Rubble, played by Lt. Marion Miles, was uncooperative during the initial interview done in her home as a follow-up to the 911 call she made on the night of the shooting. Because this witness seemed uncomfortable and evasive, Sgt. Handley and the lead investigators did a background check. Her probation officer revealed that she had failed three urine screenings, and currently has a probation violation pending in the circuit court. A warrant was then issued and served. This lead to a second (in custody) interview by Sgt. Handley; at this time she provided additional valuable information, and also picked the suspect out of a photo lineup.

With all the information assembled and evaluated, the class was asked: “Do we have probable cause to obtain any more arrest warrants for our suspect? What kind of warrants?” The answer to that was YES. Probable cause had been established; a warrant for murder was served on the suspect known as “JT”.


Part Six: Trial Preparation




Trial Preparation became the topic of conversation. Speakers were NPD Sgt. Wayne Handley; Prosecuting Attorney Megan Zwisohn, Senior Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney, City of Norfolk and Chief Public Defender Sherri Carr. Each described their duties in the process of preparing for the homicide trial of the alleged murderer, Jason T. Green.

Homicide Investigator Handley and his team prepared the case report including notes, photos, forensics, canvass results, ballistic reports and interviews. This package was sent to the Prosecutor’s office. She thoroughly evaluated the case to determine its legal strengths and weaknesses; if there was insufficient documentation she would have notified the lead investigator. Specific parts of the case reports must be shared with the defense.

The Defense Attorney Sherri Carr prepares her case with documents and the warrant forwarded from the Prosecutor. She met with her client and interviewed him multiple times, explaining his legal position fully and sharing all information with him to obtain his confidence and trust. The Defense Attorney took the client statement, reviewed forensics and exculpatory evidence, and attempted to locate any witnesses who would testify on his behalf. Listening to 911 tapes helps develop a time line and often provides pertinent details of the crime. The Defense Attorney’s role is to protect the client by providing sufficient legal advice, so he can make informed decisions regarding the trial proceedings, such as whether to testify and selecting trial by judge or jury. She can talk only to those people approved by the client, and tell them only what the client permits.


Part Seven: The Trial  





The mock Trial of Jason T. Green, known as J.T., played by Fred Gallup, was held at the Norfolk Circuit Court with the Honorable S. Clark Daugherty presiding. The prosecuting Attorney was Megan Zwisohn, Senior Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney. Sherri Carr, the Chief Public Defender represented the accused. There were multiple charges including distribution of drugs, use of a firearm and murder. J.T. pled guilty to the drug charges; he pled not guilty to the remaining charges. Judge Daugherty questioned the defendant closely as to his understanding of the charges and whether there was coercion to plead guilty, and if he understood that he would not be able to confront witnesses on the drug charges. He replied to each of the questions that he understood. The Guilty plea on the drug charges was accepted. The murder portion of the trial then began.

The Prosecution called witnesses Alice Body played by Patty Lindsey, sister of the Dead Body who identified the victim, Mary Lamb, played by Frankie Donohue, the girlfriend who testified as to his drug use, and James Smith who heard gunshots at the time and location of the homicide, and described a vehicle he saw rapidly departing the scene. NPD Investigators E. Henderson from Forensics, and Earl Killmon from Vice and Narcotics testified that there were bullet casings and drugs in JT’s residence and car. The most damaging testimony came from Wilma Rubble played by Lt. Marian Miles, who picked the defendant out of a photo lineup as the one she saw running from the scene. She stated that she wanted to get a reduction of her sentence in return for her cooperation and testimony. Sgt. Wayne Handley, the interrogator, agreed to help her in exchange for her co-operation.

Sherri Carr, representing the accused, countered that the testimony of Wilma Rubble was not reliable because she had something to gain. Additionally, she emphasized that no one had actually seen Jason T. Green do the shooting and no gun was found. She then asked for the charges to be dropped due to lack of sufficient evidence.

Judge Daugherty said that this was a circumstantial case, and the linchpin of it was the testimony of eye witness Wilma Rubble and her 911 recording the night of the shooting. When evidence is circumstantial it must be consistent with guilt, and also exclude innocence. He then stated that the evidence presented satisfied these criteria and rendered the verdict. Jason T. “JT” Green is GUILTY!!!!