Brother and sister facing death penalty return to court, trial set
Matthew and Ebony Sonnier, the brother and sister facing the death penalty for the Oct. 2017 murders of Latish White, Kendrick Horn and Jeremy Norris, were back in the Rapides Parish courthouse on Monday.
Attorneys were putting the final touches on arguments on a few defense motions that aim to get evidence suppressed that was obtained during the arrests of the two, including the search of Matthew's truck and statements made to police.
Ebony was in court first on Monday where capital defense attorneys from New Orleans tried to continue to build a case of an improper arrest when she was picked up by Pineville Police for questioning.
When the murders took place, as Pineville Police searched Ebony's house, she was handcuffed and taken to the police department for questioning after detectives discovered suspected drugs in her home and that she had an outstanding warrant through the Alexandria Police Department.
Officer Susan Mosley, who worked for Pineville Police at the time, told the court that she advised Sonnier of her rights as she cuffed her and place her in her unit to transport her to the station. Once she arrived, one arm remained cuffed and Sonnier spoke with detectives about the case involving her brother.
As we learned, Sonnier was never given her Miranda rights at the station. Det. Will Smith testified that, at the time, Sonnier was only considered a witness, not a suspect.
"Did she say she didn't want to talk or request an attorney?", asked special prosecutor Hugo Holland. "No," replied Smith.
Mosley told the court that she provided pizza for Sonnier, as well as tissues when she cried.
Ebony's attorneys believe it was a bad arrest and argued that Sonnier didn't know why she was shackled on the outstanding Alexandria warrant. Dennis Moore, who represents Ebony, also questioned a time stamp on the search warrant to sweep Ebony's home and what appeared to be an earlier draft of Smith's report that stated that he informed his officers that he successfully obtained the warrant that conflicted with the time that it was actually obtained.
Judge Mary Doggett will make a decision on the motions at a later date.
Matthew's appearance in court was brief. This time, the defense wanted to suppress evidence regarding the search of his truck.
One witness, Det. Miranda Collura with Pineville Police, testified. She explained how detectives were able to track down the truck and address.
Judge Chris Hazel will make a decision on the motions at a later date.
"Criminal defense lawyers never want a jury to hear about the evidence that was found against their clients, and so they routinely file motions to suppress evidence, claiming that the police have acted inappropriately or in violation of their client's constitutional rights," said special prosecutor Hugo Holland.
"The criminal defense lawyers in both Ebony and Matthew's cases are trying to suppress the same thing. There was a significant amount of evidence that was found in a vehicle that was traditionally driven by Matthew Sonnier. There was some evidence that was found at the Sonnier residence. The police seized all that evidence. Additionally, Ebony gave some statements to the police which were inculpatory in nature, and of course, they want to suppress those statements as well."
Meanwhile, a trial date was set for Matthew for Aug. 24, 2020. As it stands now, Ebony's trial is set to take place in March, but it could be continued to a later date.