Reilly's attorney seeks to dismiss charges of misleading police in Ringer disappearance investigation
PITTSFIELD — Laura Reilly's attorney is seeking to dismiss charges filed against her in connection with the disappearance of Joanne "Jo" Ringer.
Reilly, 43, faces three counts of misleading police in March and April 2017, during the investigation into Ringer's disappearance.
The motion, filed in Berkshire Superior Court by Northampton-based attorney Jesse Adams, seeks to dismiss all charges against Reilly on the basis that evidence presented to a Berkshire grand jury was insufficient to establish probable cause. Adams argues that because police already knew much of the information they were seeking from Reilly, that her answers didn't alter the course of the investigation nor did they rise to the level of criminal behavior. Prosecutors allege Reilly's inconsistent information prevented police from constructing an accurate timeline of the events in the days surrounding Ringer's March 2017 disappearance.
The motion comes on the heels of another filed by Adams to to suppress evidence against Reilly. In that motion, Adams argues warrants used to seize evidence against Reilly, including her car, phone and debit card records, were not valid due to a lack of probable cause.
A hearing on both motions is scheduled for May 23 at 2 p.m. in Berkshire Superior Court.
Ringer went missing on March 2, 2017, the same day she was expected to start a new job, driving a cab in Easthampton. She never arrived for that shift.Her late husband, Charles "Chad" Reidy, reported her missing on March 4.
Reidy became the prime suspect in Ringer's disappearance. He took his own life on April 7, 2017.
Ringer's remains were found in Hatfield in early March 2018, almost one year to the day she went missing. Reidy remains the primary suspect in the case, now classified as a homicide.
Reilly, of Easthampton, had a previous relationship with Reidy and was interviewed by police on at least four occasions. She is only charged with misleading police; she has not been accused of causing Ringer any harm.
In his motion to dismiss the charges, Adams argues that in order to mislead police with a lie, the statement must not only be false, but it also would have had to lead investigators down a "materially different" path other than the one they would have otherwise pursued. Adams says there is no evidence his client intentionally mislead police or tried to throw off the investigation.
He also argues the scope of the investigation precluded Reilly's statements from altering its course.
"Since the very beginning of the investigation, the police began establishing a timeline of events, and making changes to it based on Ms. Reilly's statements, cannot reasonably constitute leading investigators to pursue a materially different course of investigation," part of the motion reads.
According to court documents, during three separate police interviews on March 6 and 7 and April 5, 2017, Reilly told police she and Reidy were not together on March 3, the day after Ringer went missing.
Evidence, including text messages, witness statements and surveillance video showed the two were together at some point on that day. When confronted with that information, Reilly blamed her poor memory for the disparity.
During the interviews on March 6 and 7, Reilly told police she met Reidy in Northampton, drove him to his car, parked in town and drove their own separate cars back to Clarksburg.
On April 5, told police she gave Reidy a ride to Greenfield on March 2; information she hadn't given in earlier interviews. She also allegedly gave inconsistent statements to police about how long she spent at Reidy's home in Clarksburg that night.
It was during the April 5 that Reilly said she had received a text from Reidy on March 2, but failed to inform investigators that the message came from a phone that didn't belong to Reidy. Police, who knew at that point the text didn't come from Reidy's phone, asked her again about it. She said the text came from Reidy's phone, but when pressed, said she didn't know for sure because she was sleeping when the text came in.
Adams wrote in the motion that since police were already aware the text came from a phone other than Reidy's, her answers about where the texts came from couldn't have sent the investigation in a different direction.
"Reilly truthfully told the police that she had contact with Reidy and was unaware (and never told) of the significance the police attached to which phone the contact came from ... At the time they confronted Reilly, the police already knew the Ms. Reilly and Mr. Reidy had seen each other on March 3," Adams wrote, noting Reilly volunteered to speak with police and did not decline any of their requests to do so.
Adams also noted that Reilly "constantly reminded" investigators of her issues with her memory and "clearly made a mistake ... which completely lacked the intent to mislead and also lacked the intent to interfere with the investigation."
Bob Dunn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @BobDunn413 on Twitter and 413-496-6249.
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