ABILENE, Texas - Judge Thomas Wheeler questioned whether or not he had the authority to return items belonging to Luke Sweetser that are currently evidence in the investigation of Thomas Niblo’s murder.
A hearing for the return of confiscated items took place Thursday afternoon, but several points were made that resulted in the hearing being reset for a later date.
Sweetser is a suspect in that killing, which happened Dec. 12 at Niblo’s home, but he hasn’t been charged with murder. He was booked for theft of a firearm after several stolen guns were reportedly in his possession and released on a $75,000 bond.
Abilene police had searched Sweetser’s house and storage warehouse for evidence in the murder, and they seized dozens of items, including guns, passports, money, computers, tablets and cell phones.
Sweetser’s lawyer, Lynn Ingalsbe, said Thursday that police have had enough time to go through the evidence and called for the return of items not related to the theft of a firearm charge.
Prosecutor Joel Wilks added that an amended motion was filed by Sweetser’s defense just an hour before the hearing, and Wheeler agreed that the state didn’t have enough time to look over the documents.
Another point of contention was jurisdiction for the hearing. Wheeler said he looked through statutes to see if he had the authority to rule over the hearing since an official plea hasn’t been entered, but he couldn’t find one. Wilks said it wasn’t his responsibility to defend the Abilene Police Department’s confiscation of the items, adding that it was on Abilene City Attorney Stanley Smith to oversee.
Both sides agreed to a reset for April 27.
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