Prosecution seeks to delay suspected rapist’s trial; defense seeks to suppress evidence

2013-12-31T17:26:00Z 2014-04-02T12:33:16Z Prosecution seeks to delay suspected rapist’s trial; defense seeks to suppress evidenceBy EDDIE GREGG egregg@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

Motions recently filed by the defense and prosecution in the case against Toby Griego, a suspected serial rapist, could have a dramatic impact on the man’s trial.

Attorneys for Griego recently filed a motion to suppress evidence — a voice recording of Griego and evidence of his past crimes — from being submitted in trial. Prosecutors objected to the motion.

Griego, 41, faces 40 charges in connection to a string of robberies, sexual assaults and attempted sexual assaults in 2013. He pleaded not guilty to all the charges at an arraignment on Nov. 19. His trial is scheduled for Jan. 22, but prosecutors are seeking to reset it for March.

Griego’s attorney, J. Thomas Bartleson, argues in the motion to suppress evidence that police made a recording of Griego’s voice without properly advising him of his right against self-incrimination.

A woman who investigators say is one of Griego’s victims identified him only by a recording of his voice made by police after he became a suspect in the case, the motion states.

The woman told police that she couldn’t identify her attacker by his appearance, but that she would recognize his voice, according to the document.

If convicted of any of the rape charges against him, Griego would face a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole because of a prior sex crime in New Mexico, court records say.

Bartleson, an assistant public defender in the state’s major-crimes unit, argues in the 10-page motion that evidence of Griego’s other crimes should be excluded from trial because the information would be unfairly prejudicial.

Griego’s criminal history would lead the jury to conclude “once a rapist, always a rapist,” the motion states.

Prosecutors filed a motion last week to delay Griego’s Jan. 22 trial to early March because the state crime lab hasn’t finished DNA testing of evidence.

The motion also states that Juli M. Pierce, a prosecutor assigned to the case, will be out of state in the week before the trial and will not return to Billings until Jan. 22.

Prosecutors are asking that the trial start on March 6 or 7, which would keep the trial within the required speedy-trial deadline of 200 days.

Prosecutors are also seeking to delay a pre-trial hearing scheduled for Jan. 10 on pending motions filed in the case because one of the state’s witnesses will be out of state that day.

Griego’s counsel objects to rescheduling the pre-trial hearing and trial.

At least two other motions filed by Griego’s attorneys are scheduled to be discussed before District Judge Russell C. Fagg on Jan. 10.

The first is a motion to move the trial to another county because media coverage of the case has “inflamed the prejudice of community passions.”

Another motion seeks to split the 40 charges against Griego into six groups, corresponding to the number of alleged victims, based on the argument that not splitting the charges up would cause unfair prejudice against Griego.

Griego remains in custody in the county jail on $1 million bond.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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