A man accused of two 2019 Dayton homicides that took place feet away from each other and just hours apart wants some evidence tossed in the case.
Christopher L. Smith, 29, is charged in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court with multiple counts of murder and felonious assault in connection with the deaths of two men, 33-year-olds Brandon Harris and Clarence Brown. Authorities accuse Smith of killing Harris and shooting another man Dec. 5 outside Rick’s Jazz Club and then hours later killing Brown outside Save Food Super Market.
The locations of the two incidents are less than 100 feet apart.
A motion filed by the defense is asking the court to disallow the use of identification testimony, including photospread identification, and evidence that was collected in Smith’s Ohio and Georgia homes.
A hearing on the motion was conducted this week and focused mainly on how Dayton police conducted their photospread with witnesses to the shootings. During the hearing, multiple Dayton police detectives testified.
Dayton Police Detective Thomas Cope said that police were alerted by an FBI agent that a confidential informant said he or she saw the shooting in front of the market. The confidential informant identified Smith as the shooter, although the informant did not come forward as an official witness in the case.
But police could still use the information and generated a photospread to show witnesses of both shootings. Cope said the photospread was created and conducted following Dayton Police policy which includes using a law enforcement database to generate mug shots and selecting people who looked like the “target” or suspect in the case. The policy also says that the administrator of the photospread with witnesses must be “blind,” meaning the officer must not have knowledge of the case to ensure the officer doesn’t guide a witness into choosing the target.
A contentious point during the hearing was the use of Detective Zachary Williams as a “blind” administrator multiple times. The defense questioned whether he was actually blind during the third photospread because he had conducted two others and had assisted during the investigation.
Williams and Cope both said he was because the first two witnesses couldn’t say whether Smith shot the gun, only that he was in the area. Williams maintained he didn’t know who the target was while conducting the photospreads.
Montgomery County Judge Gregory Singer didn’t immediately rule on the motion. Instead, he set another court date in the case for June.
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