Evidence from traffic stop an issue in Nelson murder hearing

Posted at 11:44 PM, Jul 10, 2012
and last updated 2012-07-11 10:53:42-04

HENRICO, Va. (WTVR)–A traffic stop and how it was conducted is the focal point of a high profile murder case.

Chesterfield Police pulled over Gregory Nelson, Junior for speeding the same morning his pregnant mistress was found murdered in Henrico. The traffic stop occurred before the woman’s body was discovered. Police recovered a knife and bloody clothes, but will they be able to use that as evidence when the case goes to trial this winter?  That’s what lawyers were debating Tuesday.

Nelson’s defense team argued Tuesday that evidence recovered at a traffic stop in Chesterfield County, including bloody clothes and a knife, should be thrown out because they said Nelson was detained unlawfully for two hours and not read his Miranda rights in a timely manner.

As legal expert and defense lawyer Kevin Purnell explained, “There can be searches with items recovered, including statements recovered from the defendant, but courts look at it as fruit from a poisonous tree, if you violate their Fourth Amendment rights to get that evidence.”

Nelson was initially charged with capital murder.  Police say his mistress Susanna Cisneros was pregnant and close to her due date when she was killed March 9th of last year, her body dumped near a Hardee’s trash bin on West Broad St.

In court Tuesday afternoon, the capital murder charge and the charge of killing a fetus, were “null-prossed.”  Nelson will instead go on trial in December for the first degree murder of Cisneros.

Whether prosecutors will be able to use the alleged murder weapon collected in that traffic stop as evidence has yet to be determined.  Purnell says it’s an obstacle for prosecutors, but it’s not case-altering.  “In a homicide case, you need the deceased, the cause of death and witness statements and that could be statements the defendant made himself,” Purnell said.

If a judge determines elements of the traffic stop were unlawful, from any  any actions Nelson took could be thrown out, including his flight to Florida and the video confession he gave to police there.