A Smiths Grove man facing trial in a homicide case is seeking evidence that shows his co-defendant expects a deal from prosecutors for cooperating with authorities and testifying against him.
Lawyers for Antonio Marsonel Wilson, 41, have filed a flurry of motions in his criminal case, in which he is charged with murder by complicity, tampering with physical evidence and abuse of a corpse.
Wilson is charged in the death of Smajo Miropija, 49, whose badly burned body was found Feb. 8, 2019, at a building on Porter Pike.
Wilson is accused of paying Jeffery Smith, 48, of Bowling Green, to kill Miropija, who was the father of Wilson’s girlfriend and had previously been in a physical altercation with Wilson, according to court records.
Smith is charged with murder, tampering with physical evidence and receiving stolen property.
Defense attorneys Rob Eggert and Ted Shouse filed eight motions Nov. 16 on behalf of Wilson, including a motion that seeks a court order requiring the Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office to produce any evidence supporting Wilson’s innocence or that tends to negate any guilt.
Included in that motion is a request to produce evidence that Smith expects a deal for cooperating with authorities or testifying against Wilson.
“The defense will object to any situation where Mr. Smith gets on the stand and states that he is merely telling the truth and has no idea what’s going to happen to him after he testifies,” Eggert and Shouse said in their motion. “The defense respectfully submits this would be a sham and a deception.”
Wilson’s defense team argued that a jury should know whether Smith has received a deal, whether any deal is in writing and whether there have been any formal or informal promises to Smith for his cooperation.
A separate motion seeks the prohibition of any testimony from so-called “snitch witnesses” with a motive to cooperate with the prosecution and “shade the truth.”
Wilson’s attorneys argue that such testimony would be unreliable and request a hearing prior to trial to determine the reliability of the testimony from those witnesses.
Additional motions seek the suppression of evidence collected in the case, including evidence that a trip Wilson made to the Philippines shortly after Miropija was found dead suggests he fled authorities.
According to the Bowling Green Police Department, police made contact with Wilson on Feb. 9, 2019, the day after Miropija’s body was found, but he declined to speak with officers before saying he would come in later that day for questioning.
Further attempts to contact Wilson were unsuccessful, and police learned Feb. 11, 2019, that Wilson had made a trip to Chicago on the previous day and flew to the Philippines, where he was arrested the following month.
Eggert and Shouse said in their filings that Wilson has relatives in the Philippines.
“There is no evidence that the defendant was fleeing to avoid prosecution,” Eggert and Shouse said. “Counsel would respectfully request that any evidence of flight be excluded ... here, since Mr. Wilson has relatives in the Philippines, his trip there is unremarkable and not probative of guilt.”
One of the filings from Wilson’s defense team mentions that, during the investigation, a dog alerted to the alleged presence of accelerants inside a vehicle.
Wilson’s attorneys say that no accelerant was found and the alert from the dog cannot be considered reliable.
Another filing mentions that Smith claimed Wilson threw a cellphone from a car window in the area of Ky. 3145 on the right side of the ramp and that police found an apparent shattered glass screen and a digitizer in the area six weeks after Miropija’s death.
Eggert and Shouse argue that those items can’t be proved to have been part of a cellphone allegedly thrown out by Wilson and that they should not be admitted as evidence.
“Nobody knows for sure what the alleged items are or how long they had been at the location where they were found and whether or not they have anything to do with this case,” the motion says.
Other motions seek the suppression of evidence recovered from Wilson’s Smiths Grove address on the basis that they were the fruits of a faulty search warrant, the exclusion of cellphone tower location data due to questions of relevance and the prohibition of witnesses from testifying over video app Zoom on the grounds that it violates Wilson’s rights to confront his witnesses face to face.
Wilson is scheduled to appear in Warren Circuit Court on Tuesday. The case had been set for a Dec. 8 jury trial, but an emergency order issued Friday by the Kentucky Supreme Court in light of an upsurge in COVID-19 cases postponed all jury trials until after Feb. 1.