LIMA — Complications associated with the COVID-19 pandemic proved problematic but not insurmountable Thursday as an accused killer appeared in court.
Michelle Alves, charged with murder in the shooting deaths this summer of Charles and Tarissa Sanders at a South Atlantic Street residence, sat alone at the defense table in the courtroom of Allen County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Reed while her attorney discussed a motion filed on her behalf from a television screen via Zoom.
Attorney Steve Chamberlain, who is currently in quarantine after being exposed to the coronavirus, in October filed a defense motion seeking to suppress statements made by Alves to police following her arrest. In his filing, Chamberlain alleged Alves had not been properly advised of her constitutional rights against self-incrimination and the right to an attorney prior to being questioned, a violation of her Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and Article I of the Ohio Constitution.
Chamberlain wrote that case law has established that prior to being interrogated by law enforcement individuals “must be warned, in clear and unequivocal terms” that they have the right to remain silent, that any statements made may be used as evidence against them and that they have the right to the presence of an attorney.
Chamberlain maintains that was not the case when Alves was interviewed. Assistant Allen County Prosecuting Attorney Anthony Miller on Thursday submitted a recorded jailhouse interview of Alves which he said would prove the defendant’s rights had not been violated. Reed took the recording into evidence and will review it at a later date.
Alves, 31, was indicted in August by a grand jury in connection with the June 3 shooting deaths of the Sanders couple. Police say Alves shot Charles Sanders once in the head and then turned the gun on Tarissa Sanders, shooting her three times. Tarissa Sanders was found dead upon arrival and Charles Sanders died at a local hospital later that morning. Initial autopsy reports showed both victims died of gunshot wounds.
Alves was arrested June 15 in Las Vegas as a “person of interest” in the shooting. She faces a prison term of 15 years to life if convicted of the charges against her. She is being held in the Allen County jail on a $1 million bond.