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Defense says home search was illegal

Edward Allen Kline Jr. (Buy photo)

Judge asked to throw out evidence seized against man accused of killing mother

By Alex Bridges - abridges@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER -- Authorities illegally searched the home of a man accused of killing his mother in February, according to the defendant's attorney.

Edward A. "Eddie" Kline Jr., 34, formerly of 1257 N. Timber Ridge Road, appeared in Frederick County Circuit Court on Wednesday with his attorney, Timothy Coyne.

Judge John Prosser scheduled a hearing Jan. 19 for Coyne to argue several motions the attorney filed Tuesday, including one asking the court to suppress evidence seized and statements taken from his client on Feb. 26.

Kline is charged with first-degree murder in the death of his mother, Margaret Landis. Investigators found 62-year-old Landis in her home at 1255 N. Timber Ridge Road on Feb. 16 after a major snowstorm covered the area.

Landis may have been dead for several days, according to information filed with the court. A medical examiner declared her death a homicide from puncture wounds.

But Coyne argues in the motion the search warrant executed on Kline's home violated his Fourth Amendment rights pertaining to search and seizure. The attorney cites case law in arguing the court should suppress evidence seized under a search warrant if the magistrate who issued such a document was deliberately misled by the information included in the affidavit.

According to the search warrant affidavit filed by Sheriff's Office investigator Tim Juergens, Landis' trailer showed no signs of forced entry and that Kline told authorities he was the only other person with a key to her residence.

"In this case, the affidavit contains statements made with reckless disregard for the truth," Coyne states in his motion. "The statement that the Defendant 'stated that he was the only one that could have done this' is taken wholly out of context and does not accurately reflect the tone or tenor of the lengthy interrogations of the Defendant on February 17, 2010.

"He clearly stated that he did not know what happened to his mother, and told the investigators that he loved his mother."

Investigators interviewed Kline for nearly another four hours at the Sheriff's Office, where "they used various investigatory techniques designed to elicit a confession," according to Coyne.

The affiant used a response made by his client during the interrogations -- in which Kline admits evidence would point to him as the killer because he had the only other key to Landis' home -- to secure the search warrant, according to Coyne.

"Totally absent from that affidavit, however, was the fact that ... the Defendant denied killing or harming his mother more than 80 times despite the relentless efforts of three different investigators to extract a confession," Coyne states.

Leaving out this information, according to Coyne, had the effect of misleading the magistrate who issued the warrant.

Coyne also has filed motions to hire a forensic pathologist who can help prepare the defense in cross-examining a witness the commonwealth may call to testify. Coyne indicates the commonwealth plans to call an assistant chief medical examiner who performed the autopsy on Landis.

The attorney also has filed a motion to issue subpoenas in obtaining information contained in toxicology reports, Landis' prescriptions for anti-depressants and bank records.

Coyne states he expects the commonwealth to argue Kline's "financial condition as a motive for this offense."

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