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Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014

Ex-West Valley police detective will testify at hearing on evidence

By Emiley Morgan, Deseret News

Published: Tue, Aug. 5 12:50 p.m. MDT

 Shaun Cowley leaves his hearing with attorneys including Paul Cassell, left, Monday, July 28, 2014, in Salt Lake City. Cowley, 33, has been charged with manslaughter, a second-degree felony, in the shooting death of 21-year-old Danielle Willard, who was killed during a botched drug operation on Nov. 2, 2012. The Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office determined the shooting was not legally justified in August 2013, and criminal charges were filed in June.

Shaun Cowley leaves his hearing with attorneys including Paul Cassell, left, Monday, July 28, 2014, in Salt Lake City. Cowley, 33, has been charged with manslaughter, a second-degree felony, in the shooting death of 21-year-old Danielle Willard, who was killed during a botched drug operation on Nov. 2, 2012. The Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office determined the shooting was not legally justified in August 2013, and criminal charges were filed in June.

(Tom Smart, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — A former West Valley police detective will testify at a hearing about the evidence against him in October, his attorneys told a judge Tuesday.

But first they are going to ask that the case against Shaun Cowley be dismissed.

Cowley, 33, has been charged with manslaughter, a second-degree felony, in the shooting death of 21-year-old Danielle Willard, who was killed during a botched drug operation on Nov. 2, 2012. The Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office determined the shooting was not legally justified in August 2013, and criminal charges were filed in June.

Cowley's attorneys Tuesday asked for a weeklong preliminary hearing, during which 3rd District Judge L.A. Dever will hear the evidence the state has against Cowley.

"I can't imagine a preliminary hearing lasting a week," the judge said.

Prosecutor Matthew Janzen said the state has 10 witnesses planned for the hearing, including accident reconstruction, firearms and trajectory experts and a medical examiner. He said the state needed at least two days to present all of its evidence.

"Given the unique nature of this case and the requirement to show that this shooting was unjustified, I do believe we need all these experts to establish probable cause," Janzen told the judge.

Cowley's attorney, Lindsay Jarvis, said the defense needed at least a day to call witnesses and said Cowley would take the stand, as would the West Valley police officer who was with him the day of the shooting. Jarvis said the defense also intends to call an expert "that will basically rebut everything" the state offers in the hearing.

The judge again questioned the number of witnesses.

"What I see is you trying to have a trial here, making me find certain factual issues I don't think we can find at a preliminary hearing," Dever said. "It seems to me you have the cart before the horse."

The matter is further complicated, defense attorneys indicated, by a motion they filed last week alleging that prosecutors and investigators used statements Cowley gave under a threat of job loss to support the charges.

They wrote that shortly after the shooting, Cowley gave a number of interviews after being given a Garrity warning, which informed him that if he refused to answer questions, he could be "subject to disciplinary action which can include job termination."

Garrity warnings also advise, though, that any information given in the interviews can't be used in a criminal proceeding.

Defense attorneys wrote that typically a "clean team" of investigators and prosecutors who have never seen the interviews is established to handle the case. They allege that the state made no such effort in this case.

"The Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office has plainly violated detective Cowley's constitutional rights in investigating and prosecuting this case," the motion states.

The defense argues the statements Cowley gave were compelled due to the threat of job loss and that their use in the case is a violation of Cowley's Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination.

The defense is asking that the case be thrown out. If that happens, there would be no need for the preliminary hearing, defense attorneys told the judge.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said his office will review the motion and respond to it in court.

"That's what the process is," Gill said Tuesday. "We will respond and let the court adjudicate."

Dever asked that attorneys keep him updated on the motion, which will be heard by another judge. He ultimately set a two-day preliminary hearing to begin on Oct. 2 and noted that the hearing may continue beyond those two days as needed.

Email: emorgan@deseretnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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