Gun case dismissed for Little Rock suspect in slaying

A Pulaski County man currently awaiting trial for murder in Pulaski County District Court succeeded in dismissing a federal charge for obtaining a gun and ammunition after a federal judge in Little Rock agreed that the search, at which the weapon was found was illegal.

Zereak Zernell Oliver, 21, of Little Rock, is a suspect in the shooting of Regina Jackson, 46, at her home in Sherwood in July 2018.

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US District Judge Brian Miller ruled last month that the search that found the gun and a subsequent testimony from Oliver to police were the result of an illegal search and ordered that the evidence be thrown away. On Friday, Miller upheld a US attorney’s motion to dismiss the charges.

On July 16, 2018, the day of Jackson’s death, Oliver was arrested along with another man, Martieo FD Nash of Little Rock, after a car chase that ended in Little Rock. Oliver spent seven months in jail before being released on February 2, 2019 on a $ 200,000 bond.

On October 29, 2019, Oliver was arrested by North Little Rock police investigating a shoplifting complaint in McCain Mall. Three days later, on November 1st, he was charged on the gun charge and detained pending a hearing by US Judge Patricia Harris.

According to a likely affidavit related to Oliver’s arrest at McCain Mall on the gun charge, police spoke to the Sprint Communications business manager, who told them that Oliver was believed to have recently stolen goods from the Little Rock location and escaped, when the police arrived.

After police handcuffed Oliver and an unidentified companion, officers discovered a small bottle of marijuana and several ecstasy pills in his pocket. When Oliver tried to give his companion a set of car keys, the police intercepted them and used the trailer to locate the vehicle in which the two had arrived. They then searched the vehicle on the premise that they smelled what they suspected was marijuana emanating from the vehicle, a Toyota Camry. During a search of the vehicle, police found a loaded .380 caliber Glock pistol in a belt pouch. The affidavit said when questioned that Oliver said the gun was his.

Last January, Oliver’s attorney, Theodis Thompson, of Little Rock, filed a motion to suppress evidence that belonged to Oliver’s companion’s mother from the Toyota raid. Thompson’s motion stated that the search was in violation of the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments.

In his June 30 order, Miller ordered that any evidence found in the search of the car be discarded. He ordered that Oliver had thrown ownership of the gun as well.

In his order, Miller said the police found a small amount of drugs in the search of Oliver but found no evidence of the shoplifting allegation. However, that basis alone did not automatically destroy the search.

“Whether this would be enough to give officers an opportunity to take Oliver’s key fob off, go out of the store … find the car and search it and Oliver’s bag is not addressed,” Miller wrote in the order. because none of the officers said their probable cause investigation was based on finding drugs on Oliver. “

Instead, the statement went on to say, both officers testified that they searched the car based on Oliver’s fiddling with the key fob, saying his actions appeared to be “evasive” and the smell of marijuana they noticed from the car.

“None of these are plausible,” Miller said in the order. It was plausible, according to the order, that it would make sense to give her the keys, as Oliver knew he was being arrested, but his companion was allowed to leave.

Although both police officers said they smelled the strong marijuana odor from the car even though all the windows were pulled up, the order said none of the officers ever reported anything about the detection of the marijuana odor from Oliver or his companion.

“It is more likely than not true that if someone stands in front of the car with the windows up, they could smell a strong marijuana smell from the car,” wrote Miller, “then Oliver and so.” [his companion] would have smelled like marijuana. “

On Monday, Thompson expressed satisfaction with Miller’s decision and the US attorney’s decision to dismiss the charges, calling the allegation that officials smelled marijuana “far-fetched.”

“We trust officials to serve and protect us, but every now and then officials do too much and go beyond their limits,” Thompson said. “This is one of those cases. With regard to my client, [police] believed he was doing a little more than was supposed and they went on a fishing expedition with the aim of getting into that car by any means, legal or not. “

After the indictment passed, Thompson said, a prosecutor’s motion to revoke Oliver’s loan was granted, and on December 13, 2019, he was transferred from Pulaski County Jail in Little Rock to Miller County Jail in Texarkana , where he? has stayed since then.

“I’m going to file a motion with the district court today asking for his bond to be reinstated,” Thompson said on Monday. “Because the revocation was based on the federal indictment and this indictment was dismissed, I see no reason for the state to continue to detain my client.”

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