During a contested omnibus hearing in Stevens County 8th Judicial District Court last Thursday, the attorney for Crystal Rose Searle submitted four motions including one to have the charges against his client dismissed.
Attorney Kent Marshall claims that there is a lack of probable cause to believe she committed the offenses with which she is charged.
Searle is charged with four felony counts for her alleged violent shaking of an infant in her care that resulted in serious harm to the child March 14, 2022, at her home in Donnelly.
While in Searle’s care, the child sustained severe head injuries, the extent of which required him to be airlifted Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis. When the child arrived at Children’s Minnesota, he was diagnosed with a subdural hematoma and hematomas behind each eye. Physicians there said the baby’s injuries were consistent with being shaken, the complaint against Searle states.
She is charged with Assault in the First Degree – Great Bodily Harm, a felony carrying a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $30,000 fine. Searle is also charged with Malicious Punishment of a Child-Great Bodily Harm, a crime carrying a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.
She is also charged with Assault in the Third Degree – Victim Under Four and Neglect or Endangerment of a Child-Substantial Harm, both of which carry maximum penalties of five in prison and a $10,000 fine.
In addition to the motion to dismiss the case against his client, Marshall presented the following three motions to Judge Benjamin Wilcox:
– The defendants moves the court for an order suppressing all data (text messages) obtained from the defendant taken outside the scope of the warrant.
– The defendant moves the court for an order suppressing all data (text messages) taken from the defendant because there was insufficient probably cause to issue the warrant for this data.
– And the defendant moves the court for an order suppressing all statements made by her to law enforcement personnel and/or other agents of the state because the statements were taken in violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights to remain silent and to have counsel present during questioning.
Marshall told the court that the warrant for the cell phone wasn’t obtained until March 16 two days after it was seized March 14.
Searle was interviewed by law enforcement on the night of March 14, 2022. She was read her Miranda rights and given the opportunity to ask for an attorney. However, during the interview Marshall said that she said things that indicated she might need an attorney.
Stevens County Attorney Aaron Jordan, who is prosecuting the case on the part of the State of Minnesota, responded to Marshall’s motion asking Stevens County Chief Deputy Jason Reed to take the stand. He was asked to recount the interview with Searle that led to the cell phone seizure.
A transcript from the interview was presented to Reed and areas pointed out where the defense claimed Searle was attempting to ask for an attorney. Reed testified that he did not take her statements as a request for counsel.
Jordan also asked about the seizure of the cell phone to which Reed testified that due to the circumstances he felt it was better to seize the cell phone so that no messages were deleted. A warrant was then obtained before any data was taken from the phone.
In a motion submitted by Jordan to the court that requests Searle’s husband be asked to testify in the case. He states that Brad Searle had said Crystal Searle had texted him stating, “I must have hurt him.”
In most cases, a husband is not required to testify against his wife, however, that law does not apply when a criminal case is brought against a spouse involving a crime against a child, Jordan states.
Judge Wilcox did not rule on these motions by Marshall or Jordan at last Thursday’s hearing.
Marshall also requested that a possible trial date be changed from August to October or November because an expert witnesses for the defense would not be able to testify in August.
The pre-trial hearing was set for Aug. 28. Two blocks of dates were set aside for the jury trial. The first block was October 16 – 27 and the second block was November 6 – 17.