Joanne Ringer homicide: Laura Reilly wants evidence tossed in misleading police case

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PITTSFIELD — Evidence in the obstructing justice case against Laura Reilly should be thrown out because it was improperly seized, according to her attorney.

Reilly is accused of misleading police investigating the disappearance of Joanne "Jo"Ringer, whose remains were found earlier this year.

But attorney Jesse Adams is challenging information gleaned from the seizure of Reilly's cellphone, cellphone call records, cellphone site information and her credit and debit card transactions because, he said, there was insufficient justification to issue a warrant.

"The lack of solid evidence in the warrant applications is alarming. With nothing more than hunches, police investigators worked backwards," Adams wrote. "They began by inventing theories as to how Ms. Ringer disappeared, then secured warrants that lacked probable cause, containing only unfounded speculation and guesswork."

The 13-page motion, obtained by The Eagle, challenges four search warrants issued between March 8 and April 26, 2017. That period of time begins a few days after Ringer's disappearance, and ends almost three weeks after the suicide of Ringer's husband, Charles "Chad" Reidy.

Reidy has been identified by the Berkshire District Attorney's Office as the prime suspect in Ringer's homicide. Reilly, a former girlfriend of Reidy's, has not been accused of causing Ringer any harm.

Adams' motion claims the original search warrant affidavit was not based on probable cause and, therefore, illegal. He maintains the subsequent warrants also lacked probable cause.

"Therefore, anything recovered as a result of these illegal warrants is `fruit of the poisonous tree,' " the motion states, and thus must be suppressed.

Reilly did not consent to any of the searches that resulted in seizure of evidence, according to the motion and, "each affidavit in support of each warrant failed to contain facts supporting probable cause for any crime."

Reilly, 42, allegedly misled investigators by giving incomplete and contradictory information regarding the whereabouts of herself and Reidy during a series of police interviews in the days after Ringer's disappearance March 2, 2017.

"[The seized evidence] was used to contradict previous statements made by (Reilly) and (her) statements given to the police after confrontation with the evidence seized, resulted in three counts of obstruction of justice," the motion reads.

Adams argues the search warrant affidavit for cellphone records didn't have enough evidence that Reilly's phone contained any evidence of Ringer's murder.

"At best, the affidavit establishes a personal relationship between Reidy and Reilly, that they had communicated by cell phone before and after the disappearance of Ringer and had spent time together after her disappearance," according to the motion.

Adams said the warrant to search Reilly's car was speculative and not based on probable cause.

The affidavit for that warrant sought "any trace evidence to include, but not limited to biological evidence which would indicate that Ringer's corpse was in Reilly's vehicle."

At the time of the affidavit, there was no corpse, the motion reads. "There was nothing more than pure speculation on the part of the affiant that some evidence may be found in Reilly's car."

The affiant, in this case, is Massachusetts State Trooper Ryan Mauer. The warrant was also signed by Northern Berkshire District Court Clerk Magistrate Timothy Morey.

"There was no actual evidence and no probable cause to link Reilly's car to the crime of murder or any other crime," the motion reads.

Adams also found fault with the warrant used to seize Reilly's cellphone records.

"(Reilly's) relationship with Reidy does not justify the intrusion in Reilly's cell phone," the motion reads and Adams contends there was no basis for the assertion her phone may contain evidence of the homicide investigation and of misleading a police officer.

The motion seeks a hearing on the matter. Reilly is tentatively scheduled to go to trial in September on three counts of misleading a police officer.

Bob Dunn can be reached at bdunn@berkshireeagle.com, at @BobDunn413 on Twitter and 413-496-6249.


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