Harrodsburg: Crum's defense wants evidence thrown out

May 14, 2004|GARY MOYERS

HARRODSBURG - A key decision regarding the admissibility of evidence in the case of a man charged with six counts of attempted murder has been delayed for 30 days.

Kevin Crum was arrested Aug. 30, 2003, in the Corning parking lot in Harrodsburg after a security guard alerted police he saw Crum, wearing body armor, pull a long object from the trunk of a vehicle just after 2 a.m.

A subsequent search of Crum's vehicle turned up a list that police say confirmed his plans to kill April Sullivan and her family. Sullivan has told police she is the mother of Crum's child, fathered when he was a police officer in Lawrenceburg.

The items seized in that search, which included body armor, a fake beard, handguns and the checklist, are at the heart of a motion to suppress filed by Crum's attorney, James Lowry. Lowry argued Thursday the search was illegal, claiming the items were found before a warrant was obtained and without Crum's permission.


Commonwealth's Attorney Richard Bottoms, however, argued that not only did Crum give permission for the search, the permission was not needed due to the issue of probable cause and the circumstances of the arrest.

"The ruling of the court will be important to both sides, both for an actual trial and for appellate reasons," said Bottoms. "I feel confident we will be able to present case law to support our position that the evidence was obtained by legal and proper means."

Circuit Judge Darren Peckler heard testimony from law enforcement officers involved in the arrest, particularly Harrodsburg Police Department sergeant James Thomas, who was the shift commander and supervisor on the scene.

Thomas testified that the Corning security guard called 911 to report suspicious behavior by a man in the factory parking lot on East Office St. Thomas said when officers arrived, Crum appeared to throw something into the trunk of a car, slammed the lid, then approached the driver's side of the car holding his wallet in his hand and said, "I'm a police officer with the Champagne, Ill., police department."

Thomas said while that statement was verified, officers determined the Texas license plate on Crum's car did not match the Vehicle Identification Number on the car itself.

Crum was then handcuffed and placed in the back of a police cruiser "for safety reasons," Thomas said. "He was charged with criminal trespass and improper registration plates. At that point he was (read his legal rights) and asked about items in the trunk, and he waived his rights and told us where the keys were."

Thomas also testified that during the search, handguns were found under a clothes bag in the passenger side of the front seat, which led to charges of carrying a concealed deadly weapon.

Lowry contended in his arguments that police did not have probable cause for a search because there were no signs in the Corning lot saying it was private, and that police had no way of knowing whether or not Crum changed the plates on his car to avoid paying taxes, which in Kentucky elevates the crime to felony status.

Peckler decided to delay his ruling for 30 days to allow attorneys for both sides to file summation briefs outlining their arguments, and to allow himself time to review tapes of Thursday's testimony.

Peckler said four points are key to his decision: whether police had proper cause to make the arrest, regardless of what charges were initially filed; whether the search was proper with regard to the incident of arrest (search guidelines are much less strict for felonies as opposed to simple violations); when Crum's consent was for the search given; and whether or not the search during and following the arrest was appropriate, and if not, if there were conditions during the arrest that would have allowed the search under law.

Legal briefs are due to Peckler by June 13, and a status hearing for Crum was scheduled for 1:30 p.m. July 3. Crum is lodged in the Boyle County Detention Center under a $200,000 cash bond.

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