The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals recently rejected a petition from a man serving a life sentence for first-degree murder. The defendant, David Edward Niles, was convicted in January of 2010 for the death of Laura Parker. Niles claimed that circuit Court Judge Robert Crigler erred by denying his motion to suppress evidence that was sized during the search of his residence. Niles also said there was not sufficient evidence to convict him and that the judge abused his discretion in denying a motion for money for a psychiatrist.
According to the appeal, public defenders working for Niles discovered he had told one of his jailers that God told him to kill Parker because she was an unfit mother to their 4-year-old son. Niles then told his attorneys that he initially believed God told him this but later though it may have been the devil.
Judge Crigler ruled that Niles had already been examined once and was found competent to stand trial. The Court here agreed, saying that Niles provided “only unsupported assertions” that a psychiatrist might have been of help in his case, failing to show that testimony from an expert was necessary in order to receive a fair trial.
Before his trial, Niles attempted to have evidence seized at his residence suppressed. A detective, Brian Crews, had asked Niles’ wife, Patricia, about ammunition for the gun her husband was found with the night of the shooting. Patricia allowed Crews and another detective to enter the home to get the ammunition. While they were in the house they found receipts for a replacement barrel and firing pins. Both items ended up being important pieces of evidence that were used to prove that he had planned the killing weeks in advance.
Crews also asked if police could have a day planner and the computer at the home, but his wife objected saying she needed it for schoolwork. The detective ended up making copies of both. The Court decided that Mrs. Niles freely, specifically and intelligently gave her consent to the search. The day planner and computer were never used as evidence so the issue regarding their copying is moot.
The Court of Criminal Appeals also said that the record of the case showed that there was “overwhelming evidence of premeditation,” including evidence indicating that an attempt was made to conceal the crime prior to the murder.
Niles confessed to another one of his jailer’s that he had done research on the internet about how to defeat ballistics testing by using a replacement barrel and firing pin. Thus the Court found that “there was sufficient evidence supporting Niles’s conviction for first degree premeditated murder.”
To read the full opinion, click here.
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