- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 13, 2016

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - A federal judge is refusing to throw out what could be crucial evidence in the upcoming trial of a Fort Berthold Reservation man accused of killing another man with his bare hands.

Authorities say Marcel Chase killed Toby Young Bear during a methamphetamine-fueled fight on Dec. 21, 2014, then stashed the body in the trunk of his mother’s car. He’s scheduled for a five-day trial beginning May 23 in U.S. District Court in Bismarck. Chase, who is in his early 30s, could face life in prison if convicted of second-degree murder.

Defense attorney Paul Myerchin in January asked U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland to suppress evidence that law officers obtained from Chase’s home and the car, maintaining that Chase’s rights had been violated because searches were conducted without a warrant. Myerchin also said Chase did not “knowingly and intelligently” waive his right to an attorney when being questioned later by two federal agents.

Prosecutors in a February response to Myerchin’s motion said law officers who handled the case did not trample on Chase’s rights. Assistant U.S. Attorney Rick Volk maintained that Chase voluntarily gave law officers verbal permission to enter his home and to open the car trunk, and said Chase did not speak to agents against his will.

Hovland heard oral arguments by attorneys in mid-March and recently issued his ruling, saying legal precedent is on the side of prosecutors.

“The critical issue is whether the consent obtained from Chase was voluntary, and the court concludes that it was,” Hovland said in his ruling. “The court expressly finds that there was no evidence of coercion, threats or intimidation on the part of law enforcement officers throughout the evening.”

Myerchin declined comment to The Associated Press.


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