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Published: Saturday, 6/9/2012

Suppression of evidence sought

Attorney: Warrant used in murder suspect's arrest invalid


The attorney for a Toledo man charged in the robbery and beating death of a local taxi driver has asked a Lucas County Common Pleas Court judge to suppress evidence collected when Brandon Hoffman was arrested.

Hoffman, 29, of 333 Chapin St. is charged with aggravated murder and aggravated robbery in the death of Scott Holzhauer, 47, found dead Nov. 26 in his home at 842 Lorain St. A crowbar was embedded in the victim's skull.

In a motion to suppress, Hoffman's attorney argued that items found when Hoffman was arrested -- namely the victim's gun and his cell phone -- should be suppressed because Hoffman was not arrested on a valid warrant.

During a hearing Friday, defense attorney David Klucas noted that Hoffman became a suspect in the homicide but was arrested Nov. 27 because of misdemeanor warrants previously filed in an unrelated theft case. But because those warrants had not been reviewed by a "detached and disinterested party for probable cause," they were invalid, Mr. Klucas argued.

And if the arrest was invalid, so was any evidence collected at the time, he said.

Assistant prosecutors argued that case law from the 6th District Court of Appeals, which governs Lucas County, states the misdemeanor warrants were obtained appropriately. Even if the court rules the warrants were invalid, Assistant Prosecutor Frank Spryszak said, the officers involved were acting "on good faith" when executing the warrants.

Six witnesses testified during the hearing, including one for the defense. They included members of the police department and an employee of the Toledo Municipal Court Clerk of Courts Office.

The officers testified that Hoffman became a "strong person of interest" after officers interviewed neighbors at the crime scene. They said they believed guns were missing from Mr. Holzhauer's house, making it a public safety situation.

The officers further testified that Hoffman, although a suspect in Mr. Holzhauer's murder, was initially arrested because he had active warrants and they had no reason to believe the warrants were invalid.

Judge James Jensen granted time for both sides to supplement arguments with written memorandums.

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