GOSHEN — An attorney for the suspect in a Goshen College professor’s 2011 murder is arguing that evidence used to tie him to the crime was wrongfully collected and should be thrown out.
Winston Corbett, 23, of Goshen, is charged with murder and attempted murder in the Oct. 9, 2011, attack on James and Linda Miller in their home. Corbett was arrested in November after results from the Indiana State Police laboratory implicated him in the home invasion.
Corbett’s lawyer, Peter Britton, filed a motion to suppress evidence on June 21. He argues the warrant that was used to take a DNA sample from Corbett was issued in violation of his rights because it was based on evidence that was either unsubstantiated or collected illegally.
Because the affidavit drawn up in support of the search warrant failed to establish probable cause, Britton says, the DNA evidence that was obtained and all facts and conclusions drawn from it must be suppressed. He was scheduled to present his case to a judge during a hearing in Elkhart County Circuit Court on Thursday.
At the time of Corbett’s arrest, the court sealed documents related to his charges at the request of the Elkhart County Prosecutor’s Office. A judge kept them sealed, despite a media request that they be made public, on the grounds that they’re confidential criminal and investigative records.
Britton refers to evidence cited in the affidavit in his motion to suppress.
He notes that the initial connection between Corbett and the 2011 murder was made on Oct. 16, 2018, when authorities received an “investigative lead.” He argues that the affidavit failed to establish the credibility of the lead or corroborate information that amounted to hearsay.
Acting on the lead, a police detective went to a Goshen address to see if Corbett was living there, and police collected trash from the residence the following day. Britton argues that both actions represent an illegal search, and that the affidavit failed to articulate a suspicion that the residents engaged in unlawful conduct that might lead to evidence in their trash.
The affidavit and search warrant refer to DNA extraction and analysis, Britton also notes, but don’t explain what that means, why it’s relevant or how it was analyzed. He argues that as a result, the opinions given by the analysts is only hearsay.