By Allen Edmonds
HARRISONVILLE – Murder suspect Demetrious Singh was bound over for trial in Cass County Circuit Court following a preliminary hearing before Associate Circuit Judge Mike Rumley on Thursday.
But issues cropped up prior to the hearing that seemed to point to a recurring problem in the Cass County justice system recently – a seeming inability to transmit discovery evidence from the Belton Police Department, through the Cass County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and on to defense teams on a timely basis.
Singh, 21, was charged on Feb. 14 of this year with first-degree murder in the the Feb. 11 shooting death of 24-year-old Mason Teel on the street in front of his residence in the 200 block of Manor Drive in Belton.
He is being held in the Cass County Jail on $1 million bond.
But despite the passage of more than eight months – nearly seven months since public defender Holly Griffith first filed a motion requesting discovery evidence, she was still – the day of the hearing – receiving some pieces of evidence for the first time, she told Rumley in a pre-hearing conference on Thursday.
Cass County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Austin Johnson insisted his office had followed procedure exactly, turning over evidence within 10 days after it had been received from the Belton Police Department.
“Any idea why it hasn’t come from the police department then?” Rumley asked.
No one answered, but Griffith provided a sketch of what she had experienced the past several months.
“I think would be a fair statement to say the bulk of discovery received in this case has been received in the last six weeks – With two discs being received today,” Griffith said.
She said what she had received had typically been in a disorganized fashion.
“A few CDs here, a jump drive there, another jump drive just a few weeks ago and then CDs today,” she said.
Griffith said she would be able to proceed with the preliminary hearing on Thursday, which is merely an opportunity to force the prosecution to demonstrate that probable cause exists to charge the defendant with a felony.
The prosecution called four witnesses – a neighbor from Manor Street that was watching television the night of the shooting, observed a car pull up to the driveway, heard gunshots and observed the victim lying wounded in the driveway after being shot. That neighbor called 911.
Prosecutors also called Belton Police detectives Jeff DeCook and Jeff Richardson, as well as Deputy Jackson County Medical Examiner Lindsey Holdeman.
Holdeman testified that the victim died of multiple gunshot wounds, while the detectives testified as to how they zeroed in on Singh three days after the shooting. Singh did not confess to the shooting, pointing instead to an “unknown male” who went back into the house after the shooting.
Detectives testified that no weapons were found inside the house, however, Teel’s cell phone was found.
On that phone, evidence was found that detailed plans for Teel to sell two “zips” of marijuana and an agreement to meet at the Manor Street house.
The driver of the vehicle, who has not been charged in the case, told detectives that Singh believed he had been “shorted” on his purchase.