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Tamaqua man gets partial victory in suppression motion, but not all

Published June 07. 2013 05:03PM

A Tamaqua area man won a partial victory in seeking to suppress a volume of criminal charges he faces and managed to have his case severed and will be tried separately from two other defendants.

Frederick Andrew Postie, 42, of 626 Fairview St., Tamaqua R.D., had items police found at his home suppressed from being used against him at his trial because the search warrant obtained by Rush Township Sgt. Duane Frederick, on Feb. 21, 2012, lacked specificity.

Postie won his motion on a technicality, the judge pointed out, because the items to be searched for and seized were not specifically identified in the search warrant. The warrant simply stated they were searching for stolen items from several burglaries in the township. Judge John Domalakes stated the law specifically requires that the applicant identify the property to be searched and seized.

Domalakes noted although the officer personally observed copper wires similar to ones removed from a number of township homes in the defendant's residence that this was sufficient under applicable standards of a warrant to establish probable cause, however, the search warrant in this particular case attached on another basis that being a technical one and the motion was upheld to suppress because that was the correct issue under the law.

On the matter of severing the case from co-defendants, Stephenie L. Keck, 239 E. Cataswissa St., Nesquehoning, and Kerry L. Frank, 31, of 36 E. Ludlow St., Summit Hill, were granted because the court ruled Postie may be prejudiced by the trying of his case with his co-defendants' case they could implicate him in the crimes charged against them.

"A joint trial of all the defendants under the foregoing circumstances would be generally prohibited," Domalakes ruled.

All three face 51 criminal counts filed by Frederick including buglaries committed in homes, criminal trespass, theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property, criminal mischief, and loitering and prowling at night

Majority remain

Concerning the issue raised by Postie that statements, both verbal and written, given to the members of Rush Township, Nesquehoning, and Summit Hill police should be suppressed because they were obtained without probable cause and that his detention was illegal, the court disagreed ruling the statements were obtained because the police wanted to question him based on information independent of any illegal search of his residence that he was involved in these burglaries.

Domalakes ruled, "The court finds, based on credible evidence in the record that Postie's statements to the police at the Summit Hill Police Station was sufficently an act of his own free will and the connection between the statement and any illegal search of his home was so attenuated as to dispute any taint from that search. The court finds his confession was not induced by any promise of leniency."

Postie also sought that all evidence seized from the home of Michael Christman and Kerry Hoffman, 68 W. Center St., Nesquehoning, on Feb. 21, 2012, be suppressed were also denied.

Christiman is owner and occupant of the home with his girlfriend, Kerry Hoffman. Domalakes commented on that date the officers asked for permission to search the premises because they were looking for stolen items and both Christiman and Hoffman gave permission and that neither one was threatened or coerced in any way into granting consent.

The court ruled, "There was no evidence that Postie had any interest in the property, therefore, he has no standing to object to the owners consent to search."

On another issue, Postie sought to suppress evidence seized from his cell phone including the phone iitself, by Patrolman Timothy Wuttke, obtained on Feb. 27, 2012, with a search warrant.

The court noted Wuttke included information in the affidavit of probable cause for a search warant concerning Postie's cell phone, noting that in November and December 2011, Nesquehoning Officer Robert Blizzard, handled an investigation on Nov. 25, 2011, of a burglary at a vacant home at 134 Stock St., Nesquehoning, and found taken copper piping and wiring.

Also, Wuttke's affidavit stated he received information from Frederick of having taken Postie into custody on a warrant and he gave information of burglaries in Nesquehoning and also leaned from an independent source that Postie keeps a list of homes he hit on his phone. The motion to suppress was denied.

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