Investigating on the back end
Dolly Manion said from the day she was appointed to represent Nathan Wilson at his first appearance in court on March 25, 2014, the case was marred by unnecessary delays, which only aggravated the injustice of her client being deprived of his liberty without evidence to support a murder charge.
State law requires a probable-cause hearing to be held within 15 days of a first appearance, but Wilson’s hearing was not held until May 2 — 38 days after his first appearance.
When Manion appeared in district court on May 2, she said she found that the assistant district attorney had unilaterally continued the hearing for another eight weeks. Manion objected, and a compromise was worked out to continue the hearing until May 16. In the meantime, a grand jury handed down an indictment against Wilson, negating the need for a probable-cause hearing.
The first 37 pages of discovery that Manion received in mid-May contained law-enforcement reports and summaries of the interviews with Kindle and McCullough. Manion said Detective HC Meyer had written on the final line of the packet: “This supplement is not complete!”
In a May 20 motion, Manion requested DVD interviews with the two witnesses, digital images of the crime scene and the deceased, and the guest register book from Kenzie’s Event Center.
“[Where] an indigent defendant has limited resources compared to those of law enforcement, time is of the essence,” Manion wrote. “It is particularly so in this case because upon information and belief, potential witnesses at Kenzie’s Event Center on Feb. 28, 2014 numbered between 80 and over 100. It is imperative that the defense have access as soon as possible to police files, indicating the identities of potential witnesses and any statements they have made. The district attorney has an affirmative duty to ensure that the police comply with the laws governing discovery. Withholding readily available, discoverable evidence unduly impinges upon defendant’s right to effective assistance of counsel, his right to a speedy trial and the right to meaningful confrontation of witnesses against him.
“The paucity of discovery provided to defendant and the history of delay by the state strongly suggest a design to stall forward movement of the case to give law enforcement more time to search for evidence and build a case,” Manion concluded.
Assistant District Attorney Matt Stockdale did not respond directly to Manion’s assertion in a recent interview, but said she received a copy of all the documents she requested.
“Oftentimes a person is charged and an investigation continues,” he said. “I think it would be improper for the police to say, ‘Okay, someone is charged; we’re not going to continue to investigate.’”