FRONT ROYAL — The expected bench trial regarding a drug charge against accused murderer Richard Crouch was continued to August because of two new hearings in the case.
Crouch’s attorney, Eric Wiseley, of Front Royal, filed an ex parte motion to hear from an expert about the case. The hearing, which was held Monday, was closed to the prosecution because it could have provided insight on the defense’s strategy in the case.
But after the hearing Judge William Sharp ordered the contraband evidence in the case to undergo fingerprint and touch-DNA analysis to determine if Crouch possessed the drug.
Crouch was charged Sept. 25, 2019, with possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine after police searched his parent’s home on Bear Court, where he was living, and found a bag of methamphetamine, a scale and other items.
The case was continued to Aug. 2, which is the first day of a murder trial against Crouch. Crouch is accused of beating to death 20-year-old Tristen Brinklow on Sept. 28, 2019.
A pre-trial conference for the murder case is scheduled for July 26.
Crouch is also scheduled to go on trial Nov. 29 for abduction and assault charges for allegedly chocking and beating a woman on Sept. 24, 2019. The pretrial conference for the beating case is scheduled for Nov. 19.
When police spoke with the woman in the beating case, they learned about the drugs and went to arrest Crouch at his home, according to previous testimony in the drug charge case.
But Crouch took off from police and while searching the home police found methamphetamine. He was then arrested for the beating charges on Sept. 29, 2019, before he was charged with the drug possession and the alleged murder.
On May 11, Sharp denied a motion to suppress evidence found during the search, citing no case precedent allowed him to do so.
Crouch was living with his parents at the time, and Wiseley argued the parents’ Fourth Amendment rights were violated because they didn’t consent to the search even if their son waived his right to do so by being on probation. The commonwealth argued the parents weren’t on trial, and the waiver was enough to search where he was residing.
But two days later, Wiseley filed a motion to rehear the argument, stating in part, the defense had no prior knowledge of the legal cases the commonwealth would use in its argument justifying to include the search result as evidence.
The cases referenced by the commonwealth’s attorneys office, furthermore, don’t reference the searching of a home, which is distinctly referenced as subject to privacy in the Constitution, Wiseley also argued.
Because Crouch wasn’t present at the time of the search, his Fourth Amendment waiver should not be factored, and the rights of the parents, who were present, should have been considered at the time of the search, Wiseley argued again in the motion to rehear.
An addendum to the motion to rehear cited a case decided on Monday by the U.S. Supreme Court in which Justice Clarence Thomas stated that what is reasonable for a vehicle is different than what is reasonable for a home.
A hearing for the motion to rehear is scheduled at 9 a.m. June 4. Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Fleming, who is prosecuting the case, had not filed a response to the motion to rehear as of Wednesday evening.
Crouch remains in custody at Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center without bond.