A North Carolina judge has issued an order dismissing a murder case and accusing the prosecuting attorney of violating the rights of the suspect. The defendant was charged with the one count of murder after police allegedly arrested him while trying to dispose of bones they say belonged to a suspected murder victim. The man’s attorney attempted to have the charges dismissed because investigators cremated the remains before testing them to confirm their origin.
The judge reprimanded the prosecutor for multiple indiscretions, including failing to correct inaccurate testimony by a detective and medical examiner she called as witnesses, misrepresenting aspects of the case to the judge, suppressing evidence and violating court orders.
The judge initially dismissed the case orally; the prosecutor immediately appealed. The recent order says that the man’s constitutional rights were violated by the destruction of the evidence, making it impossible for him to present an effective defense. It continues, claiming that the defendant can no longer receive a fair trial after the numerous missteps. The defendant will remain in jail until the appeal moves forward.
In addition to the recent case, the prosecutor has been involved in several other incidents that prompted judges to scrutinize her practices. Two ongoing murder cases are currently being appealed based on suspicions that the attorney withheld evidence from the defense.
This is the second time this judge has dismissed a murder case in which the prosecutor was involved. The North Carolina Attorney General criticized the earlier decision, saying that the judge’s argument was “fraught with errors in its factual findings” and is asking that the charges be reinstated.
Source: News & Observer, “Judge takes Cline to task,” J. Andrew Curliss, Nov. 15, 2011