Vehicular homicide defendant requests evidence suppression
Attorney: no probable cause existed for warrant
The defense attorney for a woman charged with vehicular homicide after her involvement in a fatal crash nearly two years ago has requested that the court suppress evidence showing intoxication as a potential contribution to the accident.
Aisha Ismail, 25, of Fort Dodge, faces one count of homicide by vehicle, a Class B felony, stemming from a July 2018 accident west of Badger on Webster County Road C56 that killed David Fliehe, 20, of Humboldt.
Iowa State Patrol Trooper Neil Morenz, the investigator of the crash, said that Ismail crashed her Land Rover head-on into a Plymouth Neon, killing the driver, as she tried to pass a pickup truck. The report estimates she was travelling about 70 mph in a 55 mph zone.
Attorney Judd Parker asked the court for an oral hearing, granted and scheduled for June 29, to consider suppressing the search warrant, a urine sample obtained by it and resulting lab reports.
The urine sample taken from Ismail after she was transported to a Des Moines hospital showed a .101 blood alcohol concentration, above the .08 limit. Parker objects to the results of the warrant and urine sample on several grounds.
Parker cited several discrepancies between purported facts of the case and the facts Morenz presented to a judge to obtain a search warrant for Ismail’s bodily fluids.
First, the warrant authorized by a judge permitted a body specimen in the form of blood, different than both the requested urine sample in the application for the warrant and what was actually retrieved from Ismail. Parked argued that, per Iowa code, urine specimens are typically authorized after blood withdrawal is refused, which he said Ismail had no opportunity to do.
Parker alleges that Morenz knowingly made false statements in his warrant application when stating that the defendant had refused to give a specimen, as he had not been in contact with her before she was taken to the hospital from the scene of the accident.
Also, the defense attorney argues that there is no language in the warrant application filed by Morenz indicating reasonable cause to believe she was intoxicated, such as observations of slurred speech, beer cans on the floor of the vehicle, or failed field sobriety tests. All search warrants must be supported by probable cause or, in some cases, the less stringent legal definition of “reasonable suspicion.”
“Here, in removing extraneous wording, Morenz is essentially saying, ‘I think intoxicants may have been a contributing factor.’ Simply put, this cannot be found to satisfy probably cause,” Parker said.
“Putting it in the plainest words possible, ‘I think intoxicants may have been a contributing factor’ might as well be construed as ‘I’d like a warrant, please.'” Parker added, saying Iowa Code requires support from specific facts, information and circumstances.
Parker requests that the search warrant be invalidated and the results of the urine sample be suppressed.