Whitcomb Evidence Called into Question

Attorney Takes Issue with Police Procedure

In anticipation of a trial for two federal felony charges relating to illegal use of a firearm, the lawyer representing Richard Whitcomb, 39, of Hartford, filed two pretrial motions on January 10.
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If the judge accepts the motions, they would alter both the evidence the state can use against Whitcomb, and how the trial may be held.

Whitcomb was named in federal court documents last year, as a suspect in the disappearance of 19-year-old Sharon resident Austin Colson. No one has been charged in connection with Colson’s disappearance or death. Colson disappeared on January 11, 2018, and his body was discovered in a barn in Norwich last May. His death was classified as a homicide by gunshots to the head.

The first motion filed by Attorney Bradley Stetler on behalf of Whitcomb looks to suppress evidence obtained by police in January of 2018.

According to court documents, Whitcomb was held in custody and interrogated on January 16, 2018, but police did not read Whitcomb his Miranda Rights.

Additionally, Stetler wrote, police have produced no evidence that Whitcomb waived his rights prior to the interrogation.

Noting that the interview was audio and video recorded, Stetler

“it was clear early on that the police suspected him of involvement with the recent disappearance of Mr. Colson.”

Additionally, according to the document, on that day police obtained consent from Whitcomb to search his house, but did not have a warrant.

The police retrieved a firearm and five cell phones from that search. Stetler alleged that the government cannot prove that Whitcomb’s consent was lawfully obtained.

The motion requests that all evidence obtained from that interview and search of Whitcomb’s house be suppressed in the event of a trial.

The second motion filed by Stetler requests that both counts currently pending against Whitcomb be tried separately.

One charge relates to being a previously convicted felon in possession of a firearm. Whitcomb was convicted of aggravated domestic assault in 2003. The second pending charge relates to using a firearm as part of drug transaction.

Citing case law, the document filed by Stetler states that trying Whitcomb on both charges together might unduly prejudice the jury against him.

Stetler did not respond to a request for comments for this article.

In addition to his federal court case, Whitcomb also faces a pending charge in state court for home improvement fraud.

The investigation into Colson’s death is ongoing, and anyone with information regarding the death of Colson can contact Vermont State Police at 802-234-9933.

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