Attorneys argue over evidence in double murder investigation
Fri, 17 Feb 2012 16:52:38 GMT —
Hiralkumar Gopaldas appeared in court Friday morning for matters relating to his murder trial, and those matters had attorneys for the prosecution and the defense sparring.
The Florence County Sheriff's Office arrested and charged Gopaldas with murders in the of his wife, Punam Gopaldas, and her mother, Vinabin Patel on June 28, 2011. They were found stabbed to death at a home in the Country Club of South Carolina June 25, 2011.
Prosecutors argue the Gopaldas' were in the middle of a bitter divorce when the murders happened.
Circuit Court Judge Michael Nettles removed the case from the Florence County Sheriff's Office after an evidence custodian taped a conversation between the defense and prosecution. Now the South Carolina Attorney General's Office is prosecuting the murder case and the State Law Enforcement Division is investigating.
During Friday's hearing, defense attorney Rosemary Parham said she's received six disks of information from SLED, but is still waiting for them to provide her with more information. Parham says SLED has submitted several pieces of evidence for DNA analysis, but she hasn't been told what they've submitted.
"We really need this information," said Parham.
Heather Weiss is the lead attorney for the prosecution. She argues they're providing all information to the defense as fast as they can.
"We're doing everything in our power to move forward this investigation," said Weiss.
In another matter, Weiss expressed concern over not being able to break the code to get into Hiralkumar Gopaldas' computer. She argued it is hindering the case.
Parham says they've given the code to the prosecution, but that the prosecution has entered it incorrectly three times so the computer is locked. Weiss said that wasn't true. Judge Nettles asked Weiss to provide an order to the court requesting any additional information needed from the defense concerning the computer.
Weiss also asked for a copy of convenience store surveillance video that the defense has indicated it may present at trial. Weiss says they need the entire video and not just still pictures from it. She says Parham initially agreed to give them a copy, but now won't turn it over.
Parham argued she still isn't sure if she'll use the video because the tape is very long with so many different camera angles. She says if she does use it in their defense, she'll provide the prosecution with a copy. Judge Nettles asked Parham to provide the entire tape of the one camera angle.
The trial is scheduled to start in April, but could be delayed because of a possible conflict with Judge Nettles' schedule. He plans to let the attorneys know in the coming if the trial will have to be rescheduled.