Police departments in the Belleville area generally issue a press release after they arrest the suspect in a major crime. The press release usually contains a description of the crime, identifies the suspect and describes how police found the suspect. In a recent arrest in Belleville, the press release appears to raise more questions than it answers.
The crime in question involved the daylight robbery of an auto mechanic who had been called to repair a disabled vehicle. The victim told police that he was approached by three men and robbed at gunpoint. The police statement says that the victim was shot in the hand, but the how and why of the shooting were not disclosed. After the three men left the crime scene, the victim began to drive his car to obtain treatment for his wound. He was intercepted by an emergency services vehicle that was on its way to the crime scene. The EMTs took the victim to a nearby hospital where he was treated for non-life threatening injuries.
After the robbery, police state that they searched two houses, one in nearby Swansea and one in Belleville, but police do not say how they identified the houses or how they gained lawful entry. The searches yielded a firearm and a bloody chair, but their connection to the alleged robbery was not explained. Police also credit the actions of an off-duty police officer who spotted two of the suspects near a local Walmart store. Both suspects were arrested and taken into custody, but police did not specify how the off-duty officer was able to identify the suspects. In all, two men were arrested and charged with robbery, aggravated battery with a firearm and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
The charges in this case are serious, but the police department’s account of the crime, the investigation and the arrest leave many questions. If the suspects choose to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney, the attorney may be able to find significant holes in the prosecutor’s case or detect procedural errors by the police that may bar the admission of critical pieces of evidence.