Motion to suppress in upcoming murder trial denied in Accomack Circuit Court

September 1, 2023

By Linda Cicoira

A motion to suppress evidence against Jordan Eric Ames in his upcoming murder trial was denied Wednesday in Accomack Circuit Court after the judge found the defendant’s rights were not violated by police officers as they carried out their investigation.

Defense lawyer Kenneth Singleton unsuccessfully argued that police lied to the then 17-year-old Ames, of Hill Street in Onancock, after going to his house from a shooting/traffic crash on nearby Johnson Street.

They told him they were investigating a traffic crash, but didn’t say there was also a shooting.

Singleton said the officers kept questioning Ames without a parent  despite learning he was a juvenile. He said they intimidated the defendant, told him that possessing marijuana wouldn’t be an issue, and went into the house when no one else was home. Singleton also said police told Ames he was not to go back inside the home, even though he was shirtless and visually shivering.

“He’s sitting there half-naked with nowhere to go,” the lawyer said. He wasn’t allowed in the house, and he didn’t have a car. Singleton said they told him he wasn’t being detained, but their actions said otherwise.

While acknowledging the seriousness of the crimes, the lawyer said, “It was all pretext that they were being fair. You can’t sacrifice someone’s rights.”

Singleton complained that Ames was not read his rights before being questioned. Ames was arrested a month later, in November, and he again wasn’t wearing a shirt, the defense lawyer said. Ames was also left in a cold room in the sheriff’s office, and was again questioned without a parent.


The video showed squad car lights flashing in the background, numerous cars in the driveway, and about six officers at the house.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Spencer Morgan disputed Singleton’s allegations. A town officer identified Ames as one of the people caught on a security camera from a home on Johnson Street. “They were trying to find out who was involved,” Morgan said of the officers. They came in numbers for safety as there were multiple guns involved.

At that point, the victim, 23-year-old Nicholas Kyle Joseph, of Painter, was in critical condition. He had been shot nine times in the head, face, and upper body.

Morgan said those who went to Ames’ house “didn’t command him” to do anything. “His surrounding was his home,” Morgan said as he argued against intimidation. The prosecutor said the defendant invited the officers in when they asked to see the clothing he was wearing earlier in the day.

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Morgan played an audio recording taken from an officer’s cell phone. It was the beginning of the police interaction with Ames. The rest of the interview was captured by an officer’s bodycam, and was viewed by the court.

Judge W. Revell Lewis III said neither showed that the officers had made Ames uncomfortable. “An officer got him a coat,” the judge added.

While Ames was heard several times saying he was scared, Morgan said he also was laughing with the officers. They told him he wasn’t under arrest, that he was “a person of interest,” Morgan added.

Once the defendant was told Joseph had been shot, the defendant admitted to knowing the victim and buying marijuana from him that day. Morgan said, it was then that Ames’ marijuana possession became a relevant part of the case.

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Kathy Northam, Ames’ mother, was also told he was not under arrest. While waiting for a search warrant, the woman took her son to the local McDonalds to get something to eat. “It would have been different if they said he couldn’t go,” said Morgan. “They were free to leave, and they left.”

Singleton said Northam also felt pressured by police, which is why she consented to the search of her house. But Morgan contended when she told the officers she had nothing to hide and told them to go ahead and search, “that is beyond consent.” There was “no fear.”

Later Northam’s husband came home, and stopped the search because the officers didn’t have a warrant.

“The interaction on Ames was not hostile,” the prosecutor added. “They have no obligation to disclose all information.”

Ames was a senior at Nandua High when the incident occurred at about 3:15 p.m. Oct. 13, 2021. He will be tried as an adult. Indictments brought against him included counts of first-and second-degree murder, conspiracy to commit robbery, attempted robbery, and use of a firearm in the murder and robbery.

A cell phone seized during the search contained a photo of Ames holding a handgun. An empty ammo box and a .40 caliber round were also among the items found.

A trial date has not been set.

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