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Judge says Stallings arrest in Pa. was legal

August 15, 2005|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Washington County Circuit Judge John H. McDowell ruled Thursday that the arrest of Ricky Rinaldo Stallings Jr. in Chambersburg, Pa., following the Feb. 8 shooting death of Mary Elizabeth Williams was by the book, according to a court-filed opinion.

He did, however, rule that a checkbook and cell phone obtained during a search of Stallings' Chevrolet Blazer that day will not be allowed at his Sept. 19 trial because no paperwork indicated those items were needed for the case.

Two hearings were held on defense motions to suppress evidence related to Stallings' arrest and the search of his Chevrolet Blazer, both of which occurred the day of the homicide.

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Stallings, 24, whose address is listed on charging documents as 6088 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, is charged with first-degree murder, among other related charges in connection with Williams' shooting death, which occurred outside her 13915 Maugansville Road home as she was being picked up for work about 8 a.m., according to charging documents.

McDowell ruled that "except for the collection of the defendant's checkbook and cell phone pursuant to the search warrant executed by the Pennsylvania and Washington County, Md., authorities, the arrest of the defendant and search and seizure of his property were lawful, and the motion to suppress will be denied."

McDowell ruled that Pennsylvania State Police in Chambersburg had enough probable cause based on "credible and reliable" information from the Washington County Sheriff's Department to arrest Stallings at Chambersburg Pipe & Steel the morning of the homicide.

He wrote:

  • That before Stallings' arrest, Pennsylvania police knew Stallings had been picked out of a photographic lineup by Christopher Hobart, who drove Williams from her house where she was shot through the car to the Sheriff's Department.

  • That Stallings was driving a dark sport utility vehicle.

  • That a 9 mm gun was used in the shooting and that Stallings, who was on parole in Maryland, had gone to work at Chambersburg Pipe & Steel.



He wrote that it didn't matter that the year of the Chevrolet Blazer described in the search warrant was different from the Blazer police searched because other descriptors, such as the registration and color, were the same.

McDowell said shell casings were appropriately seized from the Blazer.

He also ruled that "the testing of the defendant's hands for gunshot residue and removal of his clothing were neither improper, unlawful nor unconstitutional," according to the opinion.

Stallings' trial is to begin Sept. 19 and last five days, according to court records.

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