By MATT DEGROOD | Oct 26, 2018 | Galveston Daily News
The case against a League City man accused of killing his former wife is headed to an appeals court after a district judge ruled a recorded statement the accused gave police was inadmissible at trial.
The trial of Shaun Philip Hardy, 34, on one count of murder and another of tampering with his ex-wife’s body was set to begin Oct. 15 but now could be delayed for as long as a year.
Hardy is charged with murder in the death of Anne-Christine Johnson. League City police arrested Hardy on Dec. 30, 2016, after finding Johnson’s body wrapped in plastic sheets in his garage.
The trial went into limbo when Judge Patricia Grady ruled jurors could not hear one of two statements Hardy made to investigators and prosecutors appealed.
The case could take between six months and a year to wind its way through the 14th Court of Appeals in Houston before it returns to Galveston County, Chief Assistant District Attorney Gina Gilmore said.
Prosecutors wouldn’t comment about how important the statement was to their case against Hardy, but his defense attorney said it was essential.
“I’d say it’s a pretty crucial part of the case,” said Dan Krieger, a League City attorney representing Hardy.
Months after police arrested Hardy, high-profile defense attorneys Dick DeGuerin and Todd Ward filed a motion to suppress two statements Harvey gave to police.
DeGuerin and Ward have since withdrawn as Hardy’s attorneys and Krieger has taken over the defense, court records show.
Grady on Oct. 5 denied a motion to suppress the first statement, which investigators took in the backyard of Hardy’s house at 617 Chesterfield Lane in League City. The judge ruled a second statement taken at League City Police headquarters was inadmissible, however, according to court records.
Hardy during that second interview asked several times whether he could call his lawyer, but police didn’t allow him to use his cellphone, which investigators had seized, according to the motion to suppress.
Gilmore declined to comment about why the district attorney’s office decided to appeal the judge’s decision. But Krieger said the statement was crucial to the prosecution’s case and that many parts of the statement had been included in probable cause affidavits used during the investigation.
An arrest affidavit from Dec. 31, 2016, stated that Hardy had admitted killing Johnson and gave some details to police about how it happened.
The motion to suppress, which was filed Oct. 23, includes some excerpted comments Hardy made to police asking to have his lawyer present and responses from police.
The excerpted police comments acknowledged Hardy had a right to have his attorney present during the questioning, according to the motion.
The motion does not include the full transcription of either interrogation, but it does describe the first interrogation as lasting 41 minutes.
Stephanie Johnson, Anne-Christine Johnson’s mother, said Thursday she was relieved the district attorney’s office is appealing the ruling.
“I hope very much that the second confession is re-admissible to the court,” she said.
Matt deGrood: 409-683-5230; firstname.lastname@example.org