INDIANAPOLIS — Caden Smith was supposed to be in Marion Superior Court Monday morning to begin his trial for the murders of three friends in some woods on the south side last October.
Instead, he’ll be at home, with a GPS monitoring device strapped to his ankle, as the teenager’s attorney was successful in convincing a judge in Indianapolis to toss out the search warrant that yielded the evidence that tied him to the murders of Abdullah Mubarak, Joseph Thomas and Michael James, Jr.
“It is perplexing when you think there is some type of closure and the evidence, there was enough evidence of a judge to sign off on a warrant, then when that warrant is executed, you find the murder weapon, another gun, drugs, there’s just so much evidence,” said Michael James, Sr. “It’s even bewildering to think how someone would have a heart to do that to know that this overwhelming evidence was present to suppress it.”
IMPD homicide detectives said they found bullet fragments in the bodies of Thomas and Mubarak that matched a gun that was found in Smith’s house on West Thompson Road in early December.
Smith’s attorney convinced a judge to toss the evidence, which included cell phones and drugs, arguing that the search warrant was invalid, police could not have known they would find the murder weapon at Smith’s house, and, therefore, the 16-year-old’s arrest was without cause.
“It looks like IMPD, they did their job, and they did it actually in a timely manner,” said Gladys Larsen, a former Chicago police officer who is James’ mother. “We’re here today as we’re confused as to why the evidence is being suppressed.”
The Indiana Attorney General is in the process of drafting an appeal to the Indiana Court of Appeals, arguing that the officers had probable cause from credible witnesses that Smith had guns plus testimony from Evelyn Nelson that Thomas told her he was going to meet Smith the day of his killing.
“He said he was going to go out and hang out with his friend Caden, that’s what he told me,” said the grieving mother. “Joseph was a friend to him. Joseph had no idea that his friend would turn around and do this to him.”
IMPD detectives said they seized Smith’s cell phones and on them a web search indicated he was interested in, “Homicide lawyer cost,” and, “Does freezing a gun remove DNA.”
“I don’t see any officer running into anyone’s home and taking evidence out of the home without a search warrant. I don’t see a judge signing off on a search warrant if it was not probable cause to go into the home,” said Larsen when I asked her professional opinion about the State’s chances of getting the evidence re-entered into the case. “I’m not confident, to be honest.”
Larsen said her son left behind two boys, ages 6 and 4.
While Monday’s trial date has not been reset, there is a status conference between the attorneys and the judge in January.