A tangle of prior offenses and a sealed arrest warrant led to the recent arrest at the Luzerne County courthouse of a man accused of murder. Sorting out the alleged crimes and the use of the sealed arrest warrant has raised questions about the validity of the arrest.
The man arrived at the courthouse for a hearing on whether the court should vacate a prior bench warrant for his arrest. The bench warrant was issued when the man failed to appear at a preliminary hearing on a credit card fraud case. When the man appeared for the hearing on vacating the arrest warrant, he was arrested under a sealed arrest warrant that charged him with criminal homicide in connection with a reported slaying at a Wilkes-Barre apartment building. Police did not release any details about the alleged homicide or the man's connection to the crime.
The chief public defender criticized the high level of secrecy surrounding the arrest. He observed that all defendants have a right to be represented by counsel as soon as they are arrested and that prosecutors were withholding basic details in this case, including the date and time of his arraignment, where he was being held and the name of the judge who signed the sealed warrant. Court records indicate that the suspect has also been charged in three other criminal cases in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties involving the use of a counterfeit credit card.
All criminal defendants are entitled to be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. They are also entitled to be represented by counsel. Many salient facts about this case are not yet known, including the substance of the police allegations that presumably support the arrest warrant. People in situations such as this may benefit from the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney who can identify flaws in the police procedures and find defenses to the criminal charges their clients face.
Source: The Citizens' Voice, "W-B murder suspect nabbed at courthouse," James Halpin and Bob Kalinowski, Oct. 6, 2016