Suppression hearing continued in Onancock murder case

January 20, 2023

Defense Lawyer Says Unaware of Video in Murder Case

By Linda Cicoira

     A Virginia Beach defense lawyer got his suppression hearing continued Thursday in Accomack Circuit Court after he announced he was unaware there was a video linking his client to an October 2021 murder. The lawyer learned about the tape when the first prosecutor’s witness testified about it at the hearing.

    The video taken by a camera that was set up on a neighboring property was reported on last August. The witness at the proceeding Thursday, an Onancock officer, said she recognized the defendant in the surveillance taken during the shooting and quickly let the sheriff’s investigators know. It was that identification that led police to the suspect. The officer said she knew him because she often saw him walking in town.

     Court records state when the defendant,  Jordan Eric Ames, was contacted, he told police he had gotten out of school early and had met the shooting victim to buy marijuana. The record stated the house was searched after permission was given by Ames and his mother.  A photo of Ames holding a handgun, an empty box of ammunition, and a .40 caliber round, were among the items that were found.

     In the suppression hearing, defense lawyer Kenneth Singleton was trying to get evidence against his 18-year-old client thrown out. Singleton said it was obtained illegally through a “warrantless search” that involved “large numbers of armed people” who came to speak to Ames, who was a juvenile at the time and was home alone.

Judge W. Revell Lewis III said it was the burden of the commonwealth to prove that the evidence in question was legally obtained. Commonwealth’s Attorney Spencer Morgan argued that Ames was not arrested until weeks later and that he invited the officers into his home that day, where they saw marijuana. He said they also had to collect gunshot residue, which is a diminishing piece of evidence, and the defendant was wiping his hands on his pants.

     Investigator Kelsey Cobb, then of the Accomack County Sheriff’s Office testified she and three other officers went to Ames’ home after he was identified. She said she did not know he was underage until after she met him. He was never detained or arrested during the visit, she added. Cobb asked to see the clothing Ames was wearing earlier in the day. The defendant invited them inside and told them he had marijuana, which was how they learned he was alone. Ames took them straight back to the bedroom, where his clothes were and where they saw the drug.

     Singleton was upset that Ames’ parents were not notified and that Ames was not read his rights.

     Cobb soon left the house to get a search warrant and obtain a kit to check Ames for gunshot residue, which does not need a search warrant. On her way back to the sherriff’s office, she called the defendant’s mother and asked the woman to go home. Cobb returned without the warrant after she was alerted that Ames’ mother had arrived and had given permission for the house to be searched. The search was underway when the defendant’s step-father got home and told the officers to leave. The warrant was later obtained and the search and seizure were conducted.

Ames was 17, and lived on Hill Street in Onancock, when the crimes occurred. He was later indicted on counts of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, conspiracy to commit robbery, attempted robbery, and use of a firearm in the murder and robbery. The victim was twenty-three-year-old Nicholas Kyle Joseph, of Painter. Two others have also been charged with the crimes.

     Police were called to Johnson Street, which was not far from Ames’ home, at about 3:15 p.m., Oct. 13, 2021, for reports of a single-vehicle crash and because gunshots were heard. When officers arrived, they found Joseph inside the Lexus he had been driving. The vehicle had struck a pole. According to a court document, Joseph had been shot nine times in the head, face, and upper body. He died the next day.

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December 5, 2023, 12:32 pm
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