A federal judge recommended the denial of two motions filed by attorneys for a Texas woman indicted for the death of a McAlester man in 2019.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Steven P. Shreder recommended in a report for U.S. District Judge Ronald A. White to deny motions to suppress statements made by Brenda Savage prior to her arrest in the murder of 40-year-old Bart Jameson in January 2019.
Shreder also recommended the denial of a motion that evidence collected by the McAlester Police Department during the investigation was tainted.
Savage, 57, of Del Valle, Texas, was indicted by a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Oklahoma for the death of Jameson.
The federal grand jury charged Savage by indictment on second-degree murder in Indian Country, use, carry, brandish, and discharge of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, and causing the death of a person in the course of a violation of Title 18 U.S.C. 924 (c)(1)(A).
Savage’s defense argued the woman was too intoxicated to make statements and that any statements captured on body camera footage should be suppressed because they were made “involuntary due to intoxication.”
Body camera footage played during a Nov. 15 hearing shows Savage saying that she did shoot Jameson and when an ambulance was requested for the man, she can be heard saying “No he doesn’t. He’s dead.”
Shreder cited United States v. Minard in which “in order to find a defendant’s statements were an involuntary confession, there must also be a finding of ‘coercive police action.’”
“Accordingly, the undersigned magistrate judge has no difficulty concluding that the Defendant’s statement was not given in a custodial context and the confession therefore did not implicate her constitutional rights,” Shreder wrote. “The undersigned Magistrate Judge therefore finds that any statements made by the Defendant, seen on body camera footage and prior to the time she was placed in custody, should not be suppressed.”
A second motion filed by Savage’s defense claims that officers with the McAlester Police Department turning off and muting their body cameras during the course of their investigation amounted to the “destruction of evidence” and the indictments should be dismissed.
“The potential exculpatory value of the body camera footage—both the footage where the microphones were turned off and where the entire system was turned off—is based on speculation,” Shreder wrote. “And while the Government has had control of the footage, the footage is not central to the Government’s case and in some instances is available from another officer’s recording during the same time.”
Shreder wrote although he agrees the officers actions “were likely at least partially made in violation” of MPD’s policy and “inadvisable” violations of police department body camera policy “have generally been found insufficient to establish bad faith.”
“Because the defendant has not established bad faith on the part of the law enforcement officers in this case, she is not entitled to dismissal of the indictment,” Shreder wrote in his recommendation.
Savage’s trial could potentially begin the week of Dec. 13 with the court advising counsel during a Nov. 18 pretrial conference “it would not be giving a date certain today for jury selection or jury trial at this time.”
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