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The Daily Tar Heel

Lawyers Argue Over Evidence In Edwards Trial

Dwayne Russell Edwards was arrested Jan. 9, 2001, but the legality of evidence found during the arrest is now being questioned.

Edwards was arrested Jan. 9, 2001, when Carrboro officials stopped the former UNC employee for having an expired registration sticker on his 1988 Chevrolet Cavalier. Edwards was stopped by Carrboro police shortly after Chapel Hill officials broadcasted that a sexual assault had occurred in Chapel Hill. The description the Chapel Hill police gave matched that of the suspect in the two Carrboro assaults.

Edwards is facing a number of charges stemming from two sexual assaults and one rape that occurred in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area in December 2000 and January 2001.

The purpose of Edwards' motions hearing, which began Tuesday and will resume at 9:30 a.m. today at Orange County Superior Court in Hillsborough, is to determine whether evidence secured during the traffic stop, which helped officials link Edwards to the sexual assaults, should be admitted.

The evidence in question includes a silver handgun found under the driver's seat of Edwards' vehicle, loose U.S. currency found on the passenger's seat and cream-colored gloves discovered in the passenger-side floorboard. The motions were filed by Edwards' attorney, Steve Freedman.

Lead investigator Matthew Dean of Carrboro took the stand first and recounted for almost two hours the two sexual assaults that happened Dec. 23, 2000, and Dec. 26, 2000, in Carrboro. Dean testified that the victims noted the suspect wore cream-colored gloves and brandished a weapon of some sort. The details were more specific regarding the nature of the assailant in the second attack, specifically naming Edwards as a suspect, Dean said.

During the hearing, Edwards reclined in his chair, resting his head against his right hand, sitting without emotion as each officer delivered his or her testimony about the night of his arrest.

Dean said the Carrboro police filtered information through the department regarding the case. The officials observed Edwards' residence on Jan. 5, 2001, and Jan. 6, 2001, after the two assaults, when he was named as a prime suspect.

Carrboro police Officer Seth Everett, who initiated the traffic stop in question, said that when Edwards emerged from the vehicle, he had something unidentifiable in his left hand. "At that time I drew my weapon and told him to put his hands up," Everett said. "When the vehicle came to a stop, I immediately saw the driver put both of his hands under the seat."

Freedman targeted the search of Edwards' car in particular, grilling Everett about why Edwards was held if he had in his possession new tags to put on the car.

Freedman argued that Edwards should have been released because he had the proper registration on him. But officials said because Edwards fit the description of a suspect wanted in the three sexual assaults, he was detained.

Once the hearing is over, Judge William Griffin is expected to set a date for the trial.

The City Editor can be reached at citydesk@unc.edu.

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