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Noonan considering speedy trial motion in Dashawn Butler case

A Batavia police officer testified today that there was an extended effort to locate Dashawn Butler after a warrant was issued for his arrest in October 2013.

Butler's defense attorney asked questions and got answers that could suggest the police didn't do all they could.

Today's hearing was on a motion by attorney Tom Burns to have the felony charges against his client thrown out on "speedy trial" grounds.

Every defendant has a Constitutional right to a speedy trial. The clock starts ticking if the police are doing all in their power to locate the suspect. If they are making every effort, then the clock for a speedy trial starts at the time of arrest, rather than when the warrant was issued.

The warrant for Butler was issued in October, but he wasn't located and arrested until June.

Butler is charged with criminal use of a firearm, 2nd, a Class C violent felony, criminal possession of a weapon, 2nd, a Class C violent felony, and attempted assault, 1st, also a Class C violent felony.  He's also accused of firing a weapon at another person Sept. 27 on State Street.

Sgt. Dan Coffey said that after the warrant was issued, police officers checked at least six possible addresses for Butler and looking for Butler was a frequent topic of shift-change meetings.

On cross-examination, Coffey said he had never personally been to the address where Butler was eventually located, though he said BPD had that address under observation for some time. He said he had not contacted State Police to see if troopers had any idea about Butler's whereabouts, and he did not seek utility records in an attempt to track down an address for Butler. He said he did contact Social Services to see if that agency had an address for Butler, but DSS did not.  

BPD also monitored a social media account reportedly belonging to Butler.

Coffey also provided a series of e-mail exchanges as possible evidence of BPD's efforts to locate Butler.

Burns objected to introducing the e-mails as evidence under the hearsay rules.  

Friedman argued that in a hearing such as this, the hearsay rules didn't apply, but even if they did, the e-mails weren't hearsay because they weren't being used as proof of the crimes charged.

Burns cited two prior rulings that found such e-mails were hearsay and that the prosecution has an obligation to call as witnesses the other police officers involved in the exchange.

Judge Robert C. Noonan said he has never read those cases before, so he called for an adjournment to read the cases and consider Burns' motion.

Whether the hearing will continue at a later date will depend on how Noonan rules on the motion.

Butler remains free on bail. There is no trial date set yet.

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