A request to dismiss witness identifications of two suspects charged with the 2014 fatal shooting of a Marine outside Austin City Saloon was denied Tuesday by a Fayette County judge.
Quincinio D. Canada and Dawan Q. Mulazim are charged with murder, first-degree robbery and second-degree assault in the death of Jonathan Price, 26, and the wounding of his wife, Megan. The couple were celebrating Megan’s birthday when they were shot in the bar’s parking lot. Canada and Mulazim could face the death penalty if convicted.
Canada, 25, and Mulazim, 33, also are charged in the June 15, 2014, robbery at Quality Inn on Newtown Court. Evidence indicates that a gun stolen in that robbery had fired shell casings found six days later where Price and his wife were shot. Victims in the Quality Inn robbery were shown photo arrays that included Canada’s and Mulazim’s photos.
In Tuesday’s hearing, Circuit Judge Pamela Goodwine heard Lexington police testimony that Canada’s picture was digitally altered to remove a tattoo beneath his left eye. Public defender Kim Green argued that the alteration violated internal police policy, so the witness identification of Canada should be excluded at trial.
Goodwine didn’t accept that argument.
“If they had included the tattoo instead of removing it, you would have said it was ‘unduly suggestive’ because they had a tattoo,” Goodwine said.
Also, Canada’s photo was one of two selected by a witness, so that fact is contrary to the defense argument of an “unduly suggestive” photo, Goodwine said.
In Mulazim’s case, his photo came from Floyd County, Ind., where he was charged with another offense. Lexington police detective Timothy Upchurch said that photo was more vertical than photos of other offenders shown to witnesses.
To ensure that all the photos were the same size and one picture didn’t stand out from the others, Upchurch put them on the same sheet and placed an overlay with holes over all the photos. That essentially cropped Mulazim’s photo so it was the same size as the other pictures.
The defense argued that that goes against police policy, which says photos should be shown one at a time to a witness. In this case, six photos were shown simultaneously.
Again, Goodwine ruled against the defense and allowed the witness identification to come in at trial.
The Canada and Mulazim trial is scheduled to start May 30, but Green and Chris Tracy, a public defender representing Canada, said they represent co-defendants in another death-penalty trial that will take up most of May. Green and Tracy said they can’t provide effective counsel for back-to-back death-penalty trials.
Goodwine said her case should take precedence and she would discuss the matter with Fayette Circuit Judge James Ishmael, who is presiding over the other death-penalty trial.