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Felony Charges Dismissed Following Ruling on Motion to Suppress Evidence

A Truman State University student was charged with Class A Felony First-Degree Robbery, Class B Felony First-Degree Burglary, and Felony Armed Criminal Action in 2003 after allegedly committing an armed robbery of a Kirksville motel and a separate armed robbery of a Kirksville convenience store. A Kirksville Police Department officer, dispatched to the scene of the hotel immediately following a 911 call, observed the defendant’s vehicle leaving the area and pulled him over. A ski mask matching the description of the alleged robber was found on the floor of the defendant’s vehicle, along with the stolen money. Four hours following his arrest, the defendant was interrogated by a separate Kirksville Police officer, and a written confession to the robberies was obtained.

Kirksville, Missouri attorney, Jay Benson, filed on behalf of the defendant a Motion to Suppress Evidence, claiming that the Kirksville police officer did not have “reasonable suspicion” that the defendant was engaged in criminal activity before pulling his vehicle over, a requirement of the 4th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. If the Court sustained the Motion to Suppress, all of the evidence seized from the vehicle and the written confession would be inadmissible as evidence. The Adair County Prosecuting Attorney argued that “reasonable suspicion” was warranted by the fact that the defendant’s vehicle was the only one in the vicinity of the crime minutes following the robbery, and that the defendant matched the description of the robber as a male clad in a dark colored sweatshirt. The arresting officer at the hearing on the Motion to Suppress, under cross-examination by attorney Benson, admitted that he had not observed the defendant violate any laws prior to stopping his vehicle. The Motion to Suppress Evidence also alleged that the defendant was not read his Miranda rights prior to the interrogation that led to his written confession.

The Motion to Suppress Evidences was presented to the Adair County Circuit Court. Both Benson and the Prosecutor were given the opportunity to present legal briefs in support of their positions. Upon consideration of the evidence and the legal arguments presented, the Court sustained the defendant’s Motion to Suppress Evidence, which precluded the admissibility at trial of the evidence seized from the unlawful search of the defendant’s vehicle, and further precluded the admissibility at trial of the defendant’s unlawfully obtained confession of the crimes. Without this evidence, the Prosecuting Attorney was unable to present sufficient evidence to a Judge or jury to convict the defendant. Thus, he subsequently dismissed all charges against the defendant.