A request by the defense lawyer of accused murder Elvis Aaron Thacker, 25, to strike his alleged confession in the 2010 death of 22-year-old Brianna Ault on the grounds of multiple constitutional rights violations was denied Wednesday.
During the continuation of Thacker’s preliminary hearing that has spanned three months, a motion to suppress evidence was heard in conjunction as testimony by witnesses for the defense took the stand.
During the hearing, presided over by Special Judge Jeff Singer, testimony was heard by Thacker and his prior roommate Floyd Jones, Fort Smith police officers and the Sebastian County Prosecuting Attorney Daniel Shue.
First on the stand, Thacker spoke of his memory of the day he was arrested and afterward during his hospitalization and detention. He talked of defending himself when what appeared to be an OG&E worker and others kicked their way into his home with guns drawn. He testified to being struck with a stun gun twice, as well as being shot. Thacker gave tearful testimony that while at the hospital, Fort Smith officers tortured and taunted him, stating they would cause him trouble breathing by obstructing tubes to his lungs while he was connected to a ventilator.
Afterwards, Shue was called to the stand and it wasn’t long before things became heated and tempers appeared to flare. Defense attorney Gretchen Mosley accused Shue of witness tampering as well as he or his office “burying” evidence. Mosley said if Shue or his office weren’t responsible then the case had been sanitized by the Fort Smith police department before it arrived at his office.
With Mosley’s accusations, which during court she made on multiple occasions, LeFlore County District Attorney Jeff Smith objected to Mosley’s allegations and objected to her continuing her line of questioning. Singer attempted to allow Mosley to find a different way to make her point, but as the questioning continued, Smith’s objections continued. Singer eventually ruled in Smith’s favor to which Mosley responded by requesting her line of questioning be put on court record for later appeal efforts.
As the suppression portion of the hearing began to wind down, Mosley argued Thacker’s Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights had been violated.
“Police can’t use a ruse to gain entry into a home with reasonable right to privacy and search ... officers didn’t appear to have a no-knock warrant ...,” said Mosley. “They must knock and announce themselves, identify themselves ... present the warrant. ...there was no evidence, none that they produced a warrant.”
Mosley argued Thacker was interrogated after his arrest without being Mirandized.
First Assistant District Attorney Marion Fry countered that the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals had upheld a previous ruling that officers can create a diversion or a ruse to create a search warrant and that the potential Miranda violation committed by the first interrogating officer would not affect the following interviews.
The issue of Thacker being under the influence of morphine during the interviews was raised by Mosley, to which Fry said Thacker appeared coherent in the interview and knowingly and intelligently waived his rights.
Singer denied the motion to suppress and the preliminary hearing resumed. As of press time Mosley still had one witness left to call to the stand, allegedly an eyewitness to the burning of Ault’s car.
Mosley also said she had a video to present from Green Energy that showed only one person at the car the time of the burning and that it pertained to the defense of her client.