Chesterton Tribune



Porter woman wants evidence suppressed at shooting trial

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The Porter woman accused of fatally shooting her ex-husband in 2011 is seeking the suppression of evidence recovered by investigators at her home on the ground that they hadn’t first obtained a search warrant.

Beverly Mitchell, 46, with a listed address of 321 Michigami Trail, is charged with aggravated battery, a Class B punishable by up to 20 years; battery, a Class C felony punishable by a term of two to eight years; criminal recklessness, a Class D felony punishable by a term of six months to three years; and pointing a firearm, also a Class D felony.

On Thursday, Mitchell’s attorney, Bob Harper, filed a motion to suppress evidence, in which he maintains that “for hours” after Mitchell was taken into custody and her ex-husband Donald Crouse transported to hospital, officers “took many photos and collected much evidence” at her residence without her permission and without a valid search warrant.

Shortly after 4 a.m. on Sept. 14, 2011, Porter Police along with other departments responded to a report of a shooting at or near Mitchell’s residence. Police found that Crouse had been seriously injured with a gunshot wound.

According to the probable cause affidavit filed by PPD Det. Jason Casbon, paramedics advised that a lead bird shot to Crouse’s chest had traveled down to his abdomen. Police said they had found Crouse “lying on the couch, still breathing” and a semi-automatic shotgun leaning against a cabinet inside the home with a single spent 20-gauge shotgun shell on the right side of the sofa.

Crouse died a week later at Porter Hospital due to respiratory complications related to the shooting. Porter County Coroner Chuck Harris has ruled the death a homicide.

Police said Mitchell advised that throughout the evening of Sept. 13 and the morning of Sept. 14 Crouse was verbally and physically abusive. She advised she retrieved her shotgun and fired it once after Crouse ignored her warnings that she would shoot if he didn’t leave her alone, police said.

Harper told the Chesterton Tribune on Monday that prosecuting attorneys agreed to his motion after he promised to withdraw a previous motion to suppress statements made by Mitchell.

Porter County Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford granted the motion to suppress evidence coinciding with Harper’s agreement to drop his previous suppression motion. However, Harper still retains the right to re-file the motion, Bradford said.

Harper said the new motion seeks to block all evidence collected by police after Mitchell was taken into custody, such as swabs taken.

Bradford said that evidence collected before Crouse was taken away by paramedics can still be used in court such as photographs or items taken at the scene under the Plain View Doctrine.

A status hearing has been scheduled for Monday, Jan. 27 at 9 a.m. to discuss trial proceedings.



Posted 11/12/2013