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Misplaced phone again in question in Hagerstown homicide case

Suppression hearing held for Darrol C. Sands, who faces first- and second-degree murder charges in Carol Marie Brown's death

July 21, 2011|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com
  • Sands
Sands

Testimony was heard Thursday in Washington County Circuit Court about a misplaced cell phone and the bearing it might have on the admissibility of a statement made to Hagerstown police by a man indicted in the 2008 slaying of a city woman.

It was the third time the issue of a defense motion to suppress the Aug. 11, 2010, statement by Darrol C. Sands was heard in court. Following the first hearing in April, Judge John H. McDowell ruled that Sands' videotaped statement was voluntary and thus admissible.

The statement was made after Sands' arrest last year by the Washington County Drug Task Force on unrelated drug-trafficking charges, but the agents turned him over to city homicide detectives within minutes of the arrest for questioning in the April 19, 2008, murder of Carol Marie Brown.

Brown, 22, the mother of two, was found dead in the bathtub of her Mitchell Avenue home. Brown died of asphyxia and stabbing.

Sands, 43, lived across the street at the time. During the 2010 interview, he denied killing Brown, although detectives told him they had found his sperm in her body and his palm print on the tub.

Following McDowell's initial ruling on the statement, it was discovered that a cell phone had been taken from Sands by Task Force Agent Brian Glines, who did not log it in a property report for the case.

Glines was unavailable to testify when the suppression hearing reopened in May, but Detective Randall Yonkers and retired detective Steve Hoover testified that Sands did not ask to call his wife or attorney. Brian Burke, another task force agent, testified he did not recall Sands having a phone, but saw it in a video of the arrest.

Glines testified Thursday that Sands, who was arrested while sitting in a car, dropped the phone getting out of the vehicle. Glines testified he picked it up, later examined it for phone calls related to the drug investigation, then placed it in an evidence locker.

"My fault. I forgot it was there," Glines testified.

Glines and another agent, David Fortson, testified that Sands did not ask to use the phone or speak to his wife or attorney before they turned him over to the detectives.

"The state does not believe this has any effect on the detectives' testimony," from the previous hearings, Assistant State's Attorney Gina Cirincion said. While Sands previously testified he asked to talk with his attorney, Cirincion noted he also testified he did not sell drugs.

"He lied to you from the stand," Cirincion told McDowell, noting that Sands is serving a sentence on a drug conviction.

Assistant Public Defender Brian Hutchison argued Sands was a person of interest in Brown's murder in April 2008 and told police then that he did not wish to be questioned further.

Hutchinson maintained that Sands' 2010 statement was not voluntary for several reasons, including detectives talked to him about the drug case as they were advising him of his Miranda rights.

The rights "must be given in a way that is meaningful to the person receiving them," Hutchison said. Talk about the drug case introduced an element of confusion, he said.

Sands is scheduled for a five-day trial on the first- and second-degree murder charges beginning Oct. 31.

McDowell said he would rule later on the admissibility of the videotaped statement.

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