takes up evidence issue in Harms murder case
Justices of the 6th District Court of Appeal in San Jose heard
arguments this morning on whether key evidence in the Jeanine Harms
murder case can be admitted at the trial of Maurice Xavier Nasmeh,
the 43-year-old Campbell architect charged with killing her in
Arguments focused on whether police violated their search
protocol by seizing Nasmeh's Jeep Grand Cherokee and keeping it too
long to search it following Harms' disappearance. The search turned
up fiber evidence that authorities said linked Nasmeh to Harms and
led to his December, 2004 arrest.
Harms, a 42-year-old Fujitsu employee who lived in Los Gatos,
disappeared in July 2001 after a date with Nasmeh, whom she had met
for the first time earlier that evening. Police believe he was the
last person to see her alive. Her body has never been found.
Amy Haddix, a state deputy attorney general representing the
Santa Clara County District Attorney's office, argued that Los Gatos
police officers' search and seizure of Nasmeh's car was not
unreasonable because they had probable cause to believe it contained
evidence of a crime.
Attorney Courtney Shevelson, representing Nasmeh, said police
should have limited their search only to items that had been listed
in their warrant, which did not include a search for fibers.
The case landed in the 6th District Court of Appeal after the
DA's office challenged a Superior Court ruling that police had
violated the warrant by keeping Nasmeh's car for more than three
weeks. Subsequently, Superior Court Judge Linda Condron barred the
crucial fiber evidence found in the car from being used at a future
Condron's ruling threatened to collapse the prosecution's case
Nasmeh's attorney, Daniel Jensen of San Jose, filed the original
motion to suppress that evidence that went before Condron.
The appellate court is expected to issue a ruling within 90
Nasmeh has been held in Santa Clara County Jail without bail
since his December 2004 arrest.