Prosecutors and a defense attorney in a murder case that happened over three years ago said they are frustrated that significant portions of the evidence have not yet been supplied by the Sheriff's Office.
The trial for Sanel Durakovic had been set to start on Feb. 27. However, Criminal Court Judge Barry Steelman said the case would have to be delayed once again. He said attorneys would advise him on Feb. 27 if they had been able to make progress in getting the evidence.
Durakovic is charged with murdering a hairdresser, who allegedly had made advances toward his girlfriend, Sabina Blue.
The victim. Patrick Godwin, was shot in the head as a vehicle drove by on Jan. 7, 2020. He worked at the same Tease Salon as Durakovic's girlfriend.
Prosecutor Addie Nestor said, "We are not blaming anyone, but we ask the Sheriff's Office direct questions, but we don't get direct answers."
She said there are 14 different officers who had roles in the complex case. She said the lead detective had significant health issues, but would still be able to testify at trial.
She said the Sheriff's Department does not handle many homicide cases, and the office is accustomed to working with efficient city police detectives.
Prosecutor Nestor said two key surveillance tapes were missing, though they had been played at the preliminary hearing. She said an eight-hour surveillance tape was turned over, but it stops a minute before the pertinent part. She said apparently those tapes were taken out of the longer tape and placed elsewhere in the Sheriff's Office.
She also said that "phone dumps" from the phone of the defendant and the victim had not been furnished to the DA's office. She said those should show actual communication between key people in the case around the time of the slaying.
Attorney Ben McGowan said Durakovic asserts that he is not guilty and wants to get the case resolved.
He said he was confident that the DA's office had turned over to him all the evidence it has. But he said there is a list of missing items he recently turned over to the prosecutors.
Attorney McGowan said it is a circumstantial evidence case, and various items of proof are extremely important.
Judge Steelman said the case had gone on so long and the handling by the Sheriff's Office seemed so "disorganized" that he might be willing to rule favorably on a motion to dismiss the case based on "failure to prosecute."
Robert Patterson had just finished watching a basketball game and was fixing to go to bed when Sanel Durakovic, 25, allegedly shot and killed his neighbor, Patrick Godwin, in Godwin’s vehicle.
“My wife and I heard two sounds like gunshots,” said the neighbor, “and one was loud and one was muffled. There was probably one or two seconds in between. The first one was really loud.”
When he went outside to see what caused the noise, he and another neighbor planned on checking behind another house, as they believed that’s where the sound came from. From his front porch, Mr. Patterson then observed a black sedan with distinctive lights speeding off. The same vehicle came back around a minute later, since the neighborhood’s exit was in that other direction.
“I noticed a vehicle, a black sedan, and its lights were off,” said the witness. “When the vehicle came back down the street, the taillights were very elongated LED lights.”
He said that the taillights were so distinctive that a few weeks later, when he saw an Audi with the same kind of lights, he immediately took note of the brand of car. He then sent prosecutor Coyle an Internet image of the car.
During cross-examination, attorney McGowan asked the witness if he had gotten a good look at the car’s driver. “No sir, I did not see the driver,” replied the witness. Aside from the car, Mr. Patterson also described the state he found his neighbor in.
“He was lying on his right side, arms directly beside him and holding his phone,” said Mr. Patterson on the victim’s positioning when he went over to the body. “His eyes were open but unblinking, and he was not responding in any way.”
Mr. Patterson said his neighbor was deceased when he encountered him, and that police responded within two minutes of being called. He said he saw a wound on his head, but he did not want to touch or interfere with the body before police arrived.
Investigator Mike Thompson said he saw a bullet wound on Godwin’s head and shoulder, and that he was near a silver BMW convertible. Godwin’s phone was intact, and his wallet was also still there. Investigators found a couple of .40 caliber shell casings near the scene.
The detective then displayed a series of videos, the first being outside of the Tease Salon where Godwin, and Durakovic’s girlfriend, Sabina Blue, worked. Godwin had allegedly made unwanted advances toward Ms. Blue while they worked together, something her boss testified to. She said, “I told her he was flirty.”
The owner of the salon said Ms. Blue had wished to talk to her about an issue she had with Godwin the day before he was shot. She also described the relationship between the two as “a normal co-worker relationship” from her viewpoint.
The boss also said Durakovic was very possessive, and that because Ms. Blue did not drive, the defendant drove her to and from work.
“She’s a young girl, and dependent on her man,” said the woman, “He was a little hovering, and there were lots of texts and a constant onslaught of communication.”
She also described a situation where Ms. Blue had gotten into an argument with Durakovic over her outfit. He believed the tight pants she wore were not modest enough, and she had to change out of them.
The investigator’s video showed Durakovic, in his Audi, pull up to the salon and wait for Ms. Blue to finish her shift. However, a few minutes later, the same car could be seen going to a gas station, with the license tag removed. The video also showed Godwin leaving the salon after he had finished with his last client of the day.
After Durakovic had been arrested, the investigator described what he found in the defendant’s apartment. He said the shoes Durakovic were seen wearing in the video footage were in the sink, there was a 0.09 caliber gun in the apartment, and the floor mats had been taken out of the Audi.
The floor mats were actually outside, but investigator Thompson said he “didn’t know if they had been washed recently.” He also did not know if they had been washed at all.
Attorney McGowan asked for and was granted the prospect of pre-trial house arrest for his client. Should Durakovic afford the $200,000 bond, he would be placed on house arrest with drug screens and GPS monitoring.
Durakovic would be unable to contact Ms. Blue, and would not be allowed to go anywhere near Tease Salon.
Judge Statom noted that Ms. Blue ignored a subpoena after she was supposed to testify as a witness.