Defense attorneys for murder suspect David Attias have filed a motion to dismiss the case and four motions to suppress evidence on the grounds that law enforcement violated the defendant’s rights in jail and during the investigation.
The motions claim prosecutorial misconduct in the acquisition of Attias’ hospital, school and telephone records. The defense requested a dismissal of evidence that law enforcement seized from defense investigators at Attias’ parents’ house in March and other information gathered at the house, as well as a recording of Attias taped at the county Psychiatric Health Facility.
In addition, the defense said prosecutors and police committed misconduct by recording and listening to a jailhouse telephone conversation between Attias and a former attorney that took place in April. Assistant District Attorney Pat McKinley acknowledged the taping was illegal, but said it is not grounds to dismiss the case because it was accidental, was not exploited in any way and was dealt with immediately,
“I listened to the first couple minutes of conversation,” Sheriff’s Dept. Sgt. Mark Kulikob testified in court Thursday. “Mr. McKinley was provided the tape, listened to the first couple of minutes and immediately secured the tape and handed it over to [Attias’ attorney].”
The defense’s motion to dismiss the case cites all evidence except the taping at the PHF as grounds for dismissal.
Attias is charged with four counts of murder and four counts of vehicular manslaughter for running his car into five people in Isla Vista on Feb. 24. Nicholas Bourdakis, Christopher Divis, Elie Israel and Ruth Levy were killed. Albert Levy, the fifth victim, is now walking after reconstructive surgery to both legs.
In court yesterday, lawyers from both teams questioned California Highway Patrol Officer David Robertson about evidence obtained during the CHP investigation, including information that law enforcement seized from defense investigators at Attias’ parents’ house, as well as other evidence gathered at the residence. The defense stated that the evidence was obtained with an invalid warrant while McKinley maintained that the search was not illegal.
The defense also objected to seized UCSB and telephone records, records taken from two of Attias’ other schools, including “documents that contained privileged information,” and all evidence gathered from Attias’ room at Francisco Torres.
Defense attorney Jack Earley questioned Sheriff’s Dept. Correctional Officer Phillip Shannon. Shannon said he recorded Attias while he was a patient in the PHF and that the tape was booked into evidence. The defense said the recording violated Attias’ right to privacy.
“I will be mentioning this in the motion to dismiss, but I won’t argue that the taping is part of the grounds to dismiss the case,” Earley said.
Attias will appear in court again on Dec. 12, when Judge Thomas Adams will rule on all of the motions. By that time, the defense expects to make a decision on whether or not to plead not guilty by reason of insanity.
The trial is scheduled to begin in April 2002.