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Suspect seeking disclosure of evidence

November 5, 2010

A young Oktibbeha County woman facing a January trial on a murder trial is seeking to have additional evidence in her case revealed to her defense attorneys.
Leslie Sharp, 22, is scheduled to stand trial Jan. 31, on a murder charge in the Nov. 10, 2008 shooting death of Christopher Cole, 20, of Mathiston, outside a home on Kelly Road in northeast Oktibbeha County.
Court documents state that Sharp fired multiple shots at Cole after he threatened her and her friends and fired at least one shot at her.
In a Circuit Court hearing that began Thursday and continues today, Sharp’s attorney, Jack Brown is seeking a ruling from Judge Lee Howard on a motion for supplemental discovery.
During Thursday’s portion of the hearing, former Starkville Police Department investigator Maurice Johnson — who now works for the District Attorney’s Office — was called to the witness stand, as were the three other young women who were with Sharp the night of the fatal shooting.
A written motion filed by Brown on Sharp’s behalf states that her defense team is seeking all the files opened by the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation master sergeant who investigated the shooting, as well as his personnel records, all witness statements, the entire Crime Laboratory file on all evidence tested in the case, all of Cole’s cellular phone records the night of the shooting and the revelation of whether Cole was working as informant for a law enforcement agency.
Court documents state that at the time of his death, Cole was under indictment for two narcotics charges in Clay County — charges that were retired after he died.
The MBI master sergeant’s files are being sought because the transcripts of three recorded statements — two audio and one on video — given by Sharp to authorities after the shooting in his original case “book” provided by prosecutors to her defense show marked differences to transcripts of the same statements that were transcribed by her defense team, court documents state.
Sharp’s defense team is alleging that some portions of the transcripts prepared by the master sergeant — who is not named in the file and who has been on active military duty — are “false” and “misleading,” court documents state.
Sharp’s attorney also alleges that several pages of the transcript that contain “dialogue that screamed self-defense” were not included in the original transcripts, though the second set prepared by the defense contains that dialogue, court documents state.
The defense is also seeking information on the contents of Cole’s truck that were found immediately after the shooting, including a digital weighing scale, rifle and a bag with a “golden leafy substance resembling marijuana.”
The motion also seeks the “disclosure of exculpatory material that could change the outcome of the case, indicate that the accused is innocent or which casts doubt on the guilt of the accused” under regulations in the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Brady vs. Maryland case.
The MBI handled the investigation of the shooting to avoid a conflict of interest since Sharp’s father works for the Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Department, which normally would have had jurisdiction in the investigation. Sharp was originally indicted on a manslaughter charge in Cole’s shooting death. A second grand jury session on the case earlier this year resulted in a new indictment on a murder charge.

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