LIMA — The attorney for a 20-year-old Lima man charged with kidnapping and rape is seeking to have evidence seized during a warrantless residential search ruled inadmissible at trial, primarily because he claims police did not follow proper procedures and protocol in obtaining that evidence.
Kenneth Rexford said statements made by his client, Jazz Howell, and evidence found inside a home at 522 N. Woodlawn Ave. were obtained illegally and should not be permitted at trial. The defense attorney said Howell had objected to a search of his home on the night of Jan. 31 of this year, after police arrived there following the report of a fight.
But prosecutors argued during a two-hour hearing in Allen County Common Pleas Court on Wednesday that the defendant’s mother, the owner of the home, did indeed authorize police to enter the residence and conduct a search. Presented as evidence to that effect was a search consent form signed by Sophia Howell on the night in question.
According to court documents, on Jan. 31 police responded to a fight in progress in the 500 block of North Woodlawn Avenue and were subsequently advised a woman was being assaulted by Howell inside the residence.
The alleged victim told police she had been physically and sexually assaulted by Howell, who answered the door when police arrived and was taken into custody after police had interviewed the alleged victim.
The woman said she went to the Woodlawn Avenue home to visit Howell but that the pair got into an argument. She told investigators Howell slapped her in the face, removed her pants and forced her to have oral sex and sexual intercourse with him.
According to court records, Howell admitted to police he physically assaulted the alleged victim and had sex with her.
Rexford argued in court on Wednesday that the state has a “history” of conducting warrantless searches based on “exigent circumstances” that fall short of what is allowed by law.
“There is no magic bogeyman in the state’s story. It’s just a fantasy explanation of why they went into this house,” Rexford told the court. “I’m getting more and more irritated with the state coming up with these last-minute theories. The burden (of proof) is supposed to be on the government and the rights are of the citizens. They know they are supported to go to your honor to get a search warrant,” the defense attorney told Judge Jeffrey Reed. “My defendant’s consent was violated.”