ST. THOMAS — Defense attorneys and prosecutors are clashing over whether or not to include evidence in the case of a man accused of murder.
Aubrey Frett is being tried in federal court on numerous charges in connection with the Labor Day 2018 murder of Jerome Turnbull, 44, in Hospital Ground, St. Thomas.
Kia Sears, Frett’s public defender, filed a motion on May 28, arguing much of the information surrounding the arrest should be suppressed — or excluded from a presentation to a jury — because of a critical omission from documents filed by Virgin Islands police, who arrested Frett on Sept. 3.
Detective Nigel James, who filed the original charges against Frett, did not mention any attempt to identify Frett prior to his arrest.
“James omitted that the single eyewitness to the murder was shown a photo array including Mr. Frett on Sept. 2, 2018, the day after the murder,” Sears wrote. “The eyewitness did not identify anyone in the photo array as the shooter.”
Later that day, James took the witness to the site of the murder, at which point, the witness identified Frett, prompting his arrest, according to Sears.
“However, the non-identification of Mr. Frett in the photo array and the fact that Mr. Frett’s photograph was shown to the eyewitness before the eyewitness made a show-up identification of Mr. Frett were not,” she wrote.
The affidavit in support of the arrest warrant, thus contained “deliberate deceit or reckless disregard for the truth,” Sears argued.
“The arrest warrant used in this case must be declared invalid and the evidence seized during its execution must be suppressed,” she wrote.
Among the evidence that would be suppressed were Sears’ motion granted is a handgun police say Frett threw over a fence shortly before they approached him, as well as what appeared to be marijuana and crack cocaine. Frett’s post-arrest statements would also be suppressed, according to court documents. Following his arrest, Frett told police he sold drugs for a living, according to the documents.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan Brooks filed an opposition response saying the admission was harmless for the purposes of probable cause.
“The witness had ample opportunity to view the assailant, who spoke to the witness as well, and the witness described the assailant as heavy-set, light complexion with some facial hair, wearing a red shirt and black stocking cap,” he wrote. “The witness positively identified the defendant as the assailant.”
A hearing on both motions has not been set.