The testimony of a Monroe County prosecutor will be needed before an evidence-suppression hearing wraps up next month in the Annette Montstream murder case.
Montstream, 40, of Clarkson, is accused of having her husband, John Montstream, 37, shot to death in June 1998. His body was left in the victim's minivan in the Rainbow Center parking ramp in Niagara Falls, which is why the case is being heard in Niagara County.
The hearing is being held for County Judge Peter L. Broderick Sr. to determine whether thesigned confession that resulted from a July 7, 1998, interrogation of the suspect should be ruled inadmissible because of alleged police coercion.
The hearing, which resumed briefly Wednesday, had been suspended since Aug. 26, as defense attorney Paul J. Cambria Jr. attended to other cases, including the lengthy murder trial of John Tomaino in Niagara Falls. Cambria won an acquittal for the Wheatfield man accused of shooting his wife in 1990.
Cambria opened Wednesday's session by announcing he did not need to continue questioning police investigators, which had been the exclusive fare of the first three sessions in July and August.
In an interview, Cambria explained: "As it turned out, we got more out of certain witnesses than we thought. We covered all the bases."
But Cambria is trying to have all the evidence gathered through Monroe County grand jury subpoenas ruled inadmissible as well. That evidence includes, among other things, telephone records that could be used to trace Annette Montstream's contacts with the alleged shooter, Michael Northrup, 28, of Caledonia.
Northrup is to be tried separately after the Montstream trial concludes.
Cambria said his goal is to throw out "anything that was produced by subpoena if the subpoenas were improperly issued."
Second Assistant District Attorney Ronald J. Winter presented Judge Broderick with a letter from Monroe County First Assistant District Attorney Richard Keenan, in which Keenan attested that the subpoenas and the use of the resulting evidence were legal and proper.
Broderick said, "If I had an affirmation from an officer of the court that locked down these issues, I might be tempted to agree with him."
But Cambria's associate, Barry Covert, asserted that the letter contradicts in some particulars information the defense had received in its own contacts with Keenan. He and Cambria insisted that Keenan be put on the stand.
Cambria said: "A letter is hearsay. I can't cross-examine a letter."
Winter said Keenan is working only part time as he recuperates from recent quadruple-bypass heart surgery. At Broderick's instruction, he called Rochester to see if Keenan could testify today. He could not, so his appearance was scheduled for Jan. 14.
Winter said after Keenan testifies, Cambria likely will be given two weeks to submit a brief summarizing his argument.
Montstream's oft-postponed trial is currently scheduled to begin March 13. Northrup's tentative trial date is May 1.
However, Northrup's attorney, John R. Parrinello of Rochester, is also challenging the admissibility of much of the evidence in his case. A suppression hearing in that matter is scheduled to resume Jan. 13 and 14 before Broderick.