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Request denied in murder case

March 12, 2002|BY KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

A Washington County Circuit judge Monday denied a defense attorney's request to toss out evidence, including a gun found during a search, a statement made to police and a photo array, in the first-degree murder case of Robert Francis Stevenson Jr..

Stevenson is charged in the fatal shooting of Tyrenti Jaunhea West, 21, of Farrell, Pa., last year at Westview Homes, a housing development in Hagerstown's West End.

Defense attorney Mary Riley asked that prosecutors not be allowed to enter the gun into evidence in the case because Stevenson lived at the apartment where it was found and had a "reasonable expectation of privacy." She said police who found the gun did not have a search warrant.

Police found the gun during a search of a Westview Homes apartment into which neighbors said they saw Stevenson go after the shooting.

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Police had said they found the gun between a mattress and box spring.

Riley said Stevenson may have been drunk and unable to understand his rights when he talked to police and that witnesses may have been unduly influenced when a photo array was shown to them.

Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Steve Kessell said there was no evidence to suggest any type of coercion was used when the photos were shown to witnesses. He also said Stevenson stayed at two or three homes in Washington County.

Washington County Circuit Judge Frederick C. Wright said it wasn't established that Stevenson was a resident of that Westview apartment and officers had the right to search for the gun used in the shooting.

Wright said the statement Stevenson made to police was voluntary and he saw nothing amiss with the photo array.

Police allege that West and Stevenson were in a neighbor's kitchen at around 11:10 p.m. when West was shot. She managed to leave the apartment and collapsed in the courtyard.

Police arrested Stevenson more than an hour later after another Westview resident found him on her love seat and called police. She said he appeared to be asleep.

Stevenson, then 18, of Brooklyn, N.Y., was charged with first- and second-degree murder, first- and second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, wearing or carrying a handgun and use of a handgun in the commission of a felony, according to court records.

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