Fayette Circuit Judge James Ishmael Jr. denied a defense motion Thursday to suppress evidence collected by Lexington police in Arizona that was connected to a 2014 slaying.
The decision means a jury will hear about that evidence during the murder trial of Jefferey Charles Morris, 31. He is accused of killing Anthony "Tone" Carter, 47, on June 11, 2014, in Lexington.
Five months later, in November, federal marshals arrested Morris in Glendale, Ariz., near Phoenix. He had been staying with Desiree Green, formerly of Lexington.
Defense attorney Robin Slater sought to suppress evidence obtained from a black leather gym bag belonging to Morris that Green gave police voluntarily. A suppression hearing was held in April, and Ishmael released his ruling on Thursday.
Slater argued that Lexington detectives Reid Bowles and Chris Schoonover had no jurisdiction in Arizona and had seized the gym bag illegally.
Police didn't search the bag until they returned to Kentucky and obtained a warrant to look in it, according to testimony. Police found false identification with Morris' photo but another name. No gun was found in the bag.
"Our argument would be that he was clearly trying to hide his identity," said assistant commonwealth's attorney Kimberly Baird.
In his comments from the bench, Ishmael said, "I don't think the bag was 'seized' in a constitutional sense." Rather, "Green voluntarily gave the bag to the detectives," the judge said.
Ishmael said Morris had no "legitimate expectation of privacy" because he had no ownership interest in Green's apartment, wasn't listed on the lease, had no key to the apartment and didn't pay any of the bills.
After Thursday's proceeding, Slater said the judge's ruling "would be the basis for a potential appeal. ... I believe from a constitutional standpoint, the evidence should have been suppressed because it was improperly obtained by the police officers. The police officers had no authority to act in Arizona, to seize property and bring it back to Kentucky."
Carter was found shot in the 400 block of Chestnut Street. He had moved to Lexington from Michigan about six months earlier to pursue a better life.
A trial date might be scheduled when the attorneys return to court June 19.