Jail officials released the defendant's purse to police on April 2, their records state.
By PEGGY SINKOVICH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- A defense attorney says police had no legal right to take the purse that belongs to a 27-year-old Austintown woman facing capital murder charges.
Atty. Anthony Consoldane of the Trumbull County Public Defender's office said he was angered to hear that Weathersfield police confiscated Sherry Delker's purse from the jail.
Consoldane said Delker had signed a form to have the purse released to her boyfriend. When the man went to the jail to pick it up he was informed that it was taken to Weathersfield.
Child's death: Delker, accused of running over her daughter, Samantha Martin, 6, was arrested on an aggravated murder charge March 29. Jail records show the purse was given to Weathersfield police April 2.
"I'm not saying they can't have it but they need a court order to get it," Consoldane said. "I don't think it's right that they can just take it. I went and asked Judge John Stuard if he issued an order and he said he had not."
Ernie Cook, chief of operations at the jail, said he doesn't believe officials did anything wrong.
"It's not our job to second-guess arresting agencies," Cook said. "If they come in and ask for something we give it to them."
Prosecutor Dennis Watkins said he is declining to talk specifically about the Delker case but says clothes can be taken after a defendant is lawfully arrested.
Joe Consiglio, Weathersfield police chief, said police officers got the purse the same time they picked up Delker's clothes.
"We are keeping the evidence," Consiglio said. "If she wants the purse back, I don't have a problem with that. I'll ask the prosecutor if we can release it."
Delker, who could face the death penalty if convicted, is being held in the county jail without bond. She has pleaded innocent.
Consoldane has said that his client is suffering from a mental illness and is on medication.
Police said Samantha was killed around 8 a.m. on Prospect Street near state Route 46 in Mineral Ridge, next to St. Mary Church.
Evidence at scene: Scuff marks that could have been made when a body was dragged by a car were found on Prospect Street, and clothes were embedded in the pavement, according to an affidavit prosecutors filed with the court.
Crime lab officers with the Ohio State Highway Patrol also found a tire tread on Samantha's shirt that resembled the tread on Delker's front tires. Delker's vehicle is a black 1990 two-door Chevrolet Lumina.
Delker told police she went to the church to ask forgiveness after sending her daughter to a "better place."
The Mahoning County Coroner's office said an autopsy showed that Samantha, who died of multiple internal injuries, had been sexually abused. Mahoning County officials are investigating possible sex abuse. No charges have been filed.
Authorities in both counties are investigating because the girl and her mother lived in Austintown in Mahoning County, but the death happened in Trumbull County.