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November 3, 2012

Judge rules against motions to suppress evidence in Singleton murder

RICHMOND — A Madison circuit judge has ruled that state troopers did not violate a murder suspect’s rights when they entered his Richmond home prior to obtaining a search warrant.

Judge William G. Clouse also ruled the KSP did not intentionally mislead or provide false information in the affidavit used to obtain a search warrant and gather evidence from Jason Singleton’s Forest Hill Drive home.

Singleton, 36, and Christina Marcum, 29, are charged with murder in the death of 24-year-old Angela Frazier-Singleton, Jason’s wife. Frazier-Singleton’s dismembered body was found Jan. 19, 2011, in trash bags at the end of Tattler Branch Road in the Valley View community.

Singleton’s attorney, Jim Baechtold, made the arguments at the Friday morning hearing in an attempt to keep evidence collected inside Singleton’s home from being allowed at trial.

Singleton and Marcum are set for trial 9 a.m. March 11.

Securing the house

At Friday’s hearing, which lasted all morning, three Kentucky State Police trooper were called to testify.

The first, Detective Edwin Botkin, testified about how he and two other troopers secured Singleton’s house prior to obtaining a search warrant Jan. 20, 2011.

Botkin said he was instructed to park his unmarked vehicle outside Singleton’s home and observe the residence while another trooper prepared a search warrant affidavit. An affidavit is a written document that outlines the reasons why, based on information gathered during an investigation, officers believe a crime has taken place, and a private area needs to be searched for evidence. The affidavit is presented to a judge, who then decides whether there is probable cause to approve a search warrant.

Frazier-Singleton’s body had been discovered the day before, and Botkin had been investigating her disappearance. She was reported missing Jan. 17 by her mother, and on that same day, Frazier-Singleton’s empty car was discovered on Interstate 75.

Botkin said he noticed the garage door and the interior door leading into the house from the garage of Singleton’s home was open. He also said he could smell smoke in the air, indicating something had recently been burned.

Two other KSP troopers then arrived, Detective Chris Short and Trooper Don Foley, and the three men were ordered by Lt. Blake Slone to enter the house and secure it, Botkin said.

Botkin said the troopers entered to ensure there were no suspects or victims inside and that evidence wasn’t being destroyed.

The troopers were in the house for nine minutes, opening doors and closets, anywhere that a person could be, both Botkin and Short testified. No evidence was seized at the time.

“We were told to secure the house,” Short said. “I didn’t see any problem with that, so we did.”

When Short took the stand, he said once inside the interior garage door, he saw a knife on the floor. At the top of the stairs, he said it appeared carpet had been pulled up and a hole cut in the subfloor. A handheld circular saw was near the hole, he added.

Short also said there was soot throughout the house, and it appeared something had been recently burnt in the two fireplaces.

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