KINGMAN – The defense attorney for first-degree murder suspect Justin James Rector is asking for more evidence to be disclosed before setting a trial date, including recordings and data from all electronic devices confiscated by police during the investigation.
Julia Cassels filed a motion to compel prosecutors to turn over specific items related to medical examiner records, content of electronic devices and documents from the FBI.
She said there were at least eight cell phones, computers, tablets and other devices seized by the state, and she wants to review the contents of all those devices.
During a court hearing Monday, Cassels told Mohave County Superior Court Judge Lee Jantzen that records from the medical examiner were “woefully lacking” compared with past medical records that she has received in murder cases.
The former medical examiner was on the scene and did not submit any notes or diagrams, she said.
“Not one word about her being on the scene. It’s shocking to me,” Cassels said.
The final item she requested is from FBI files in digital format that cannot be printed without password access.
Prosecuting attorney Greg McPhillips said he met with Cassels on May 15 and found about nine different discs that needed to be disclosed again to the defense.
“We went through full disclosure on May 15 to make sure they have all the same things I have and we asked to move forward with interviews,” McPhillips said. “We still need to get this case set for trial.”
The state has disclosed everything in existence, he said.
As for the FBI passwords, McPhillips said he finds it a little “silly.” Of the hundreds of documents he viewed, only two files could not be printed, and they were methodology and procedure, not actual exhibits, the attorney noted.
Rector is charged with first-degree murder, kidnap and assault in the death of 8-year-old Bella Grogan-Cannella of Bullhead City in September 2014. The girl’s body was found in a shallow desert grave not far from her home where Rector was staying.
The girl’s mother, Tonia Ann Grogan, and stepfather, Ralph Leroy Folster, are in prison on charges of dealing methamphetamine.
Cassells said some of the electronic devices were seized by the state during an arrest of Bella’s mother and stepfather, and belonged to various people who either lived at the home or were there the night of the murder.
Judge Jantzen said it does sound “concerning” that some of the evidence taken in the drug case is not included in the murder case, and that information needs to be revealed and relayed to Cassells. He set the next hearing for 11 a.m. Monday, July 30.