MICHIGAN CITY, Indiana — The Indiana Supreme Court has taken up a case in which police officers found an alleged murder weapon after eavesdropping on a conversation between an attorney and a man accused of fatally shooting his girlfriend.
Indiana's high court will consider whether a LaPorte County judge who excluded the gun as evidence exceeded her authority by barring all trial testimony from the officers after they invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in the eavesdropping case.
Based on what they had overheard, Michigan City police found the gun Brian Taylor is accused of using to kill his girlfriend, 24-year-old Simone Bush, in March 2014.
After Taylor's arrest, he and his attorney discussed "all aspects of both the case and his defense" and met in what they were told was a private room at the Michigan City police department, according to court records.
But several police officers and LaPorte County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Robert Neary were able to hear parts of that conversation from a nearby room.
A special prosecutor cleared Neary and the officers of criminal wrongdoing in December after finding there was no evidence proving an intent to eavesdrop.
Taylor's murder trial was put on hold and he was released from jail last year after Superior Court Judge Kathleen Lang barred all trial testimony from the officers, The (Munster) Times reported (http://bit.ly/1gJlL39 ).
The state Supreme Court's decision Monday to take up the case automatically sets aside a June ruling by the Indiana Court of Appeals which found that Lang properly excluded the gun police discovered after listening in on Taylor's conservation.
But that same ruling also found that Lang went too far in barring the officers from testifying about aspects of their investigation that uncovered other allegedly incriminating evidence.
The appeals court noted in its decision that "crucial information regarding Taylor's guilt was heard by law enforcement personnel."
Indiana's five Supreme Court justices will likely hear oral arguments in the case in a few months.
Information from: The Times, http://www.thetimesonline.com