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Implications of the Murray v. State Ruling

The 4th District Court of Appeals, which oversees all appeals in Broward, Palm Beach, Okeechobee, Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River counties just ratified the worst type of police misconduct and exemplifies why a citizen should NEVER speak to Law Enforcement Officers. The 4th DCA in their written opinion of Ungray Murray v. State, actually held that: (i) if law enforcement officials purposefully make false statement in their sworn statement, contained within their affidavit in support of a search warrant, to establish probable cause, the search warrant must be voided, and the evidence seized as a result of the search must be excluded. But on the other hand, the false statement contained within the affidavit of search, made by law enforcement officers, will not invalidate the resulting search warrant if after the erroneous material is excised, there is still probable cause to issue the search warrant.

The 4th DCA reasoned in Murray that law enforcement officers can lie in their sworn affidavit of search, when applying to a neutral magistrate to obtain a search warrant, and still receive a valid search warrant if some of the officer’s sworn lies are sprinkled with truth. I venture to say that we expect more from our elementary school aged children, regarding telling the truth; then the 4th DCA does from sworn officers when applying for a search warrant in Florida.

Ungray Murray appealed his conviction for sexual battery, contending the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress DNA evidence obtained pursuant to a search warrant because the affidavit in support of the warrant contained intentional misstatements and omissions by the applying law enforcement officer.  The pertinent facts of Murray are as follows: Murray was accused of raping a woman who he had known from doing lawn care services at her home. The victim in the Murray case was interviewed at the hospital after the sexual assault regarding the description of who her attacker was. The victim told law enforcement that she thought she knew her assailant as “Andre” from a local church ministry, who in fact cut her grass on previous occasions. Law enforcement then tracked down “Andre” and identified him as Ungray Murray.

During a voluntary police integration, Murray told law enforcement officers that he did know the victim, that he did do lawn service at her home but that he did not see her in over one year. Murray even provided law enforcement officers with a voluntary DNA sample; because he was sure that his DNA was not inside the victim’s home and would not match a “CPT” examination.

A “CPT” examination is a medical examination of the vagina with the results of the examination used by law enforcement officers in the prosecution of sexual assault or sexual battery case in Florida. The main interests of a “CPT” examination conducted by a medical professional are: trauma, redness, scratches, bruising, discharge and semen contained in or around the vagina. If semen is present, it is collected and ran through a national data base, to determine if it can be matched with other samples of DNA on file.

Before law enforcement officers in the Murray investigation could run his DNA through the data base, law enforcement officers allegedly “lost” Murray’s DNA. Instead of law enforcement officer’s just requesting Murray give another DNA sample, after all he volunteered the first DNA sample, officers obtained a tainted search warrant to forcefully extract Murray’s DNA.

When applying for the search warrant, the officer’s sworn false testimony included the following: that the alleged victim knew the attacker by name as “Ungray Murray;” that the alleged victim told the officer that “Murray” took a liking to the her; that the alleged victim told the officer “Murray” matched the description of the attacker; that alleged victim told the officer “Murray” matched the height, weight and had very white teeth like the attacker and finally, the victim told the officer that she was 99% sure that Murray had raped her.

The previous sworn testimony to the sitting judge, who issued the search warrant, was a complete lie. The previous testimony by the law enforcement officer was in fact perjury.  The law enforcement officer provided perjured testimony sprinkled with some truths, to the sitting magistrate, in obtaining the search warrant

On Appeal the 4th DCA did not even scold the perjured testimony of the law enforcement officer when applying for the warrant. Instead, the 4th DCA went on to stretch things as far as they could, in their reasoning, that because other facts may have been correct about Murray, the affidavit for search that produced the search warrant was good enough. Therefore, the evidence collected was not fruits of the poisonous tree doctrine and would stand in trial in upholding Murray’s sexual assault conviction.

The problems with Murray’s ruling are many. First, where did the original DNA sample go? If law enforcement officers would lie under oath to a sitting judge, when applying for search warrant to extract “DNA” from an alleged target in a sexual assault or sexual battery case, would they not do worse with the original DNA they collect from the accused and somehow “lost.”  Second, if law enforcement officers would make up facts like the “name” of a suspect in a sexual assault or sexual battery case and then swear to it under oath in obtaining a search warrant, how credible is the rest of their entire investigation. Third, and doesn’t the law enforcement officer’s perjured testimony complexly undermine the victim’s statement and in essence victimize her again. Forth, with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s budget over 600 Million Dollars, which is the largest expenditure in all of Palm Beach County Services, you would think that evidence would not just get “lost.” Lastly, as an Appellate court that published written opinions for many which is their last resort for justice, one would hope the 4th District Court of Appeals would write opinions that reflect reason with: truth, honesty and veracity being their cornerstone of reason. But as the Murray opinion shows, he who lies best wins according to the appellate court’s blessing in Murray.

If you or loved one has been accused or arrested for sexual assault or sexual battery in Palm Beach County contact West Palm Beach criminal defense Lawyer Andrew D. Stine. Palm Beach criminal defense attorney Andrew D. Stine has been representing those accused and arrested for sexual assault and sexual battery for over a decade. As a criminal trial lawyer who also practices appellate law, West Palm Beach’s Andrew D. Stine has set himself apart from the pack and will fight for you in the courtroom and in his appellate practice. Hire Stine or Do the Time!

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