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Motion to dismiss attempted murder charge denied

A woman who authorities say tried to kill her now-ex-husband will continue to face attempted murder charges after a motion to dismiss was denied Thursday.

A woman who authorities say tried to kill her now-ex-husband will continue to face attempted murder charges after a motion to dismiss was denied Thursday.

Dawn Long, of Ethan, was charged with attempting to murder Todd Long in 2015. She’s scheduled to stand trial in April.

Long’s attorney, E. Steeves Smith, made arguments at the Davison County Public Safety Center in Mitchell to Judge Chris Giles in relation to six motions, five of which were denied and most of which dealt with a bottle of caffeine that Long allegedly purchased and a bottle of rum out of which Todd Long reportedly drank.

The motion to dismiss, filed by the defense last week, states that there isn’t enough evidence against Long to prove that she’s guilty of the attempted murder charge, arguing that there isn’t medical evidence to corroborate that Long’s ex-husband had anything poisonous in his system, that there’s no proof that Long did anything to poison him and that the state can’t prove there was enough caffeine in the rum bottle to kill anyone.

“I can’t find there’s any evidence that would show any attempt on the part of the defendant to murder her ex-husband,” Smith said at Long’s hearing.

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Attempted murder is a crime of intent, meaning that for Long to be convicted, the state must prove that she had formed a plan to cause her ex-husband’s death. Smith argued that because the amount of caffeine found in the alleged victim’s system was not enough to kill a person, the state would not be able to prove intent.

Giles said during the hearing that if there had been enough caffeine in Todd Long’s system to kill a person, Long would likely now be charged with murder, not attempted murder. He denied that motion on the grounds that it’s premature at this stage of the case, but said that Smith could raise a motion after the state presents its case.

Also discussed at the hearing was a motion by the defense to suppress evidence of caffeine powder purchased by Long, based on a narrative report written by the investigating officer who spoke with a lab technician about the analysis of the caffeine in the rum bottle. Smith wrote in his motion that the caffeine tablets purchased by Long were irrelevant because the conversation between the officer and the lab technician indicated that the caffeine found in the rum bottle wasn’t consistent with the precipitate that would be present if caffeine tablets had been used.

Katie Mallery, who is representing the state in the case, said there wasn’t justification for a hearing on the issue.

“It’s premature to say that it’s irrelevant until any of the evidence has been brought forward,” Mallery said.

Giles stated that the motion involved a credibility issue, not an admissibility one, and he denied the motion.

A motion by the defense asking for more information about the rum bottle and its contents was filed on Jan. 18. That motion requested any additional information on details such as the amount of liquid in the bottle at various points in the investigation. Smith asked for the state to provide a narrative summary of the bottle’s contents, but Mallery said the state had already provided the defense with all the information they had on it.

Giles denied that motion on the basis that he didn’t believe there was any additional material that could be found or provided.

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The other motion involving the rum bottle involved the defense requesting an interpretation of Todd Long’s medical records involving any urinalysis or blood tests that were done that would indicate caffeine or any other foreign substance was in his system.

He reasoned in part that the reference to a “Morgan Coke” in Todd Long’s medical records was confusing because the rum in question had been the Ron Diaz brand, not Captain Morgan; he wasn’t sure what a “Morgan Coke” was and he wanted advisement as to whether the term referenced caffeine or a foreign substance being present in Todd Long’s system.

Giles denied that motion, as well, and said he felt it was common sense to interpret the term “Morgan Coke” as being another name for a rum and Coke, and that doing so did not require a scientific or medical interpretation.

“I don’t think you get anything more than, here’s the record, it is open and subject to interpretation,” Giles said.

Another motion regarding Todd Long was addressed at the hearing, as the defense moved for discovery of his bank records and a ruling on their admissibility. Smith claimed that Todd Long had testified during his divorce hearing that all the proceeds of a loan he took out had gone toward paying Dawn Long’s student loans, but that he lied and that that affects his trustworthiness moving forward with the case.

“If he lied about that, he could be lying about any other thing,” Smith said.

That motion was denied, as well. Giles stated that because Smith was also the attorney involved in the divorce proceedings, he has the ability to get those records on his own and does not need to have them provided by the state.

Some discussion between Giles and Smith took place during the hearing on the possibility of the defense holding a hearing where Smith would have to prove that Todd Long was untruthful, for impeachment purposes.

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In connection with a motion to have records recovered from Long’s iPhone provided to the defense, Giles determined that the state would share everything needed from the phone if the defense provided a flash drive on which to store the information.

With the motion to dismiss one charge denied and no delays addressed on Thursday, Long is still scheduled to stand trial for the charges of first-degree attempted murder and reckless burning beginning on April 1.

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