Attorneys for Timothy Joseph Buzbee, charged in connection with several rapes in Montgomery County's Aspen Hill area, have asked the county circuit court to dismiss the charges against Buzbee or to throw out much of the evidence in the case, arguing that it was illegally obtained.
The defense requests were disclosed in documents opened to the public for the first time yesterday. Other documents in the case remain sealed, and a judge has ordered the public and members of the media excluded from the hearing scheduled for Feb. 28, when the defense requests will be argued before a judge.
Though the orders for a closed hearing and sealed records are highly unusual, the requests for dismissal and evidence suppression are relatively routine legal procedures.
The Washington Post and two suburban newspapers yesterday appealed the order by Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Rosalyn B. Bell to close major portions of the Feb. 28 hearing and to keep certain documents in the case sealed. Buzbee's lawyers sought the closures, arguing that media coverage of the case could make it impossible to find an impartial jury in Montgomery County.
A spokesman for the Montgomery County State's Attorneys office, which is prosecuting the case, refused to comment yesterday on the defense allegations of improper evidence gathering, saying that a gag order prevented him from discussing the case.
Reginald Bours III, an attorney for Buzbee, argued in the documents made public yesterday that police violated Maryland law when an investigator recorded a telephone call he made to Buzbee's land surveying company and allowed one of the rape victims to listen in. The procedure "resulted in a possible voice identification" of Buzbee by the victim, according to the documents.
Bours argued that the procedure violated the law that prohibits authorities from recording phone conversations except in specific circumstances. This evidence gathering also violated Buzbee's Fourth Amendment right to privacy, Bours said.
Because this evidence was used in obtaining the authority to search Buzbee's home, business and vehicles, all evidence obtained from these searches should be thrown out, the attorney argued. Because it also was used to arrest Buzbee and indict him, the charges should be dropped, Bours asserted.
Bours also sought to suppress certain statements made by Buzbee to authorities on the night he was arrested, last Nov. 5. Bours said police violated Buzbee's rights in obtaining the statements because Buzbee had told them he wanted to be represented by an attorney and was unwilling to make a statement without one.