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Defense asks judge to toss evidence in ex-Columbia officer’s case

The lawyer for a former Columbia police officer accused of dealing drugs argued in court Tuesday that police used a search warrant based on unreliable information.

Gamal Castile was indicted last February with including drug distribution, drug possession and unlawful possession of a weapon. The indictment claims Castile gave another man trenbolone, an anabolic steroid, in October 2016.

Castile’s attorney, Richard Hicks, said the probable cause the Columbia Police Department used to obtain a search warrant was based on unreliable information and the warrant was stale, so the evidence the officers collected should be suppressed.

Hicks said the police cherry-picked the information used in the affidavit when they didn’t confirm statements from a woman who said Castile gave her husband steroids after his package got held up during shipping. The woman also reportedly told officers her husband used steroids frequently.

Hicks argued the police ignored the man the woman said was her husband when he told them he did not use steroids frequently, would submit to drug testing and was not married to the informant.

The prosecution argued that the officers corroborated the information for the search warrant when the woman produced a receipt for the husband’s supposed package and text conversations between her husband and Castile. The prosecution also said officers had no reason to trust the man because he had previously changed his story with police.

It was not clear from the arguments whether the two were actually married.

Judge Jeff Harris did not grant or deny the motion, saying he would make his ruling in chambers.

The defense said if the motion is denied, it will request a Franks hearing, in which the court is asked to decide if the police affidavit used to get a search warrant returns incriminating evidence based on false statements.

Castile’s jury trial is scheduled to begin April 16.

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