Victims’ families mystified as evidence thrown out of triple murder trial

INDIANAPOLIS – Caden Smith was scheduled to be in Marion Superior Court Monday morning to begin his trial for the murders of three friends in a South Side wooded area last October.

Instead, he’ll be at home, with a GPS tracking device strapped to his ankle, as the teenager’s lawyer managed to convince an Indianapolis judge to throw out a search warrant that yielded evidence linking him to the killing of Abdullah Mubarak , Joseph Thomas and Michael James, Jr.

“It’s confusing when you think there’s some kind of closure and evidence, there was enough evidence for a judge to sign a warrant, then when that warrant is executed, you find a murder weapon, another gun, drugs, there’s only so much evidence,” said Michael James, Sr. . “It’s mind-boggling to think how anyone would have the heart to do that if they knew this overwhelming evidence was there to suppress it.”

IMPD homicide detectives said they found bullet fragments in the bodies of Thomas and Mubarak that matched the gun found at Smith’s home on West Thompson Road in early December.

Smith’s attorney convinced the judge to throw out the evidence, which included cellphones and drugs, arguing that the search warrant was invalid, that police could not have known they would find the murder weapon in Smith’s home, and therefore that the 16-year-old’s home was without a warrant. reasons.

“It looks like IMPD, they did their job, and they actually did it on time,” said Gladys Larsen, a former Chicago police officer who is James’ mother. “We are here today because we are confused as to why the evidence is being suppressed.”

Indiana’s attorney general is in the process of drafting an appeal to the Indiana Court of Appeals, arguing that officers had probable cause from credible witnesses that Smith had a gun plus Evelyn Nelson’s testimony that Thomas told her he was going to meet Smith on the day of his murder.

“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 his friend. 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 an Internet search showed he was interested in “homicide attorney fees” and “Does freezing guns remove DNA.”

“I don’t see any officer running into someone’s house and taking evidence out of the house without a search warrant. I don’t see a judge signing a search warrant if there wasn’t probable cause to enter the house,” Larsen said when I asked her professional an opinion on the state’s chances of reintroducing the evidence into the case. “I’m not sure, to be honest.”

Larsen said her son left behind two boys, ages 6 and 4.

Although Monday’s trial date has not been set aside, a status conference between the attorney and the judge is being held in January.

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