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Murder defendant wants cellphone evidence tossed

WARREN — The attorney representing a man charged in the April 17 murder of a 26-year-old pregnant woman at a northwest Warren home seeks to suppress evidence taken from his client’s cellphone.

An evidence suppression hearing for Kemari James, 27, has been set for 9 a.m. Sept. 4 in the courtroom of Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge Peter J. Kontos. This action taken Monday by the judge during James’ pretrial hearing effectively postpones the scheduled July 27 jury trial for James.

James, who last had a Parkman Road SW address, is charged with two counts of murder each with firearms specifications; one count of attempted murder, one count of aggravated robbery, one count of escape and one count of having a weapon as a convicted felon.

If convicted, James faces at least a sentence of 36 years to life, which includes the two three-year mandatory gun specifications.

The defendant is accused of killing La’Nesha Workman at a home in the 1600 block of Ogden Avenue NW. Workman was pregnant at the time of her death.

After an autopsy, the Trumbull County Coroner’s office reported Workman died of multiple gunshot wounds.

A court brief filed Monday by defense attorney David Rouzzo states his client was identified by a witness in a police photo lineup that was “unnecessarily suggestive.” Rouzzo also wrote that all evidence used by the prosecution taken as a result of a “warrantless seizure and search of the defendant’s cellular phone” should be thrown out.

In the brief, Rouzzo charged the police affidavits that were used to obtain the judge’s search order were defective in that information was “hearsay” taken from unreliable witnesses, and the affidavit does not specifically indicate a cellphone should be seized.

James is being held in Trumbull County jail in lieu of $2 million bond. If he is able to make bond, James would be required to be under electronic-monitored house arrest, according to court documents.

James was arrested in May on Parklawn Avenue in Baltimore. He waived extradition so he could be transported back to Ohio on May 15.

At the time of James’ arrest, U.S. Marshal Pete Elliott said, “The U.S. Marshals and Warren police officers were deeply impacted from the callous nature of this crime.”

Workman’s body was found by Warren police, who were responding to a call about gunshots coming from the home. When Warren police arrived, they found two children in the house crying, according to a 911 report.

On Monday, Kontos did not set a new trial date for the case, saying trials usually take place at least two weeks after evidence suppression hearings are held.

gvogrin@tribtoday.com

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