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Date of Issue: March 19, 2008

Evidence challenged in officer shooting case

The attorney for a man charged in the mainland shooting of an off-duty Holmes Beach officer is challenging the use of evidence associated with a possibly illegal wire tap.

Attorney Brett McIntosh made the argument in a motion filed at the Manatee County Courthouse in regards to the prosecution of James Perkins, charged with attempted second-degree murder.

As of The Islander newspaper’s press time, the state attorney’s office had not responded to McIntosh’s motion.

Perkins was charged soon after the April 4, 2007, incident in east Manatee County that left off-duty Holmes Beach police officer James Cumston suffering from a minor bullet fragment wound.

The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office maintains that Perkins and another man were involved in an attempted burglary next door to Cumston’s home. Cumston interrupted the burglary and a car chase began. During the chase, the suspects fired several times at Cumston, who fired back. The officer suffered a minor wound to his leg when fragments from a bullet struck him, but he did not need hospitalization.

Perkins was arrested in Georgia on a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office warrant April 5, 2007. The Barrow County News reported that the sheriff’s office dispatched crisis negotiators and a tactical unit after Perkins barricaded himself in a home in Winder, Ga.

According to court documents, MCSO followed the trail to Perkins and Winder after first interviewing local witnesses, including Carrie Boyett, who said Perkins called and told her to notify the police that her car, allegedly his getaway vehicle from the burglary, was stolen by an unknown person.

Boyett later allegedly told deputies that Perkins and two acquaintances were at her home at about noon April 4 and when she went to take a nap with her child, they left in her car.

Court papers filed by the state attorney’s office indicate that law enforcement used cell phone data to identify and locate witnesses and locate and arrest Perkins.

In preparing Perkins’ defense, McIntosh went to court to obtain MCSO’s records on cell phone activity for two local numbers during three days last April.

The court ordered the release of the records, but, according to McIntosh, MCSO released only a single paragraph of an “unidentified document, of an unidentified origin, drafted on an unidentified date by an unidentified person.”

McIntosh, in court papers, argued that MCSO failed to meet the court order and also suggests that there are “viable issues of the lawfulness of the wiretap or ‘trap and trace’ conducted on certain cell phones.”

McIntosh wanted the records to review and see whether MCSO obtained the information properly because “if such measures were conducted in an unlawful manner” evidence that resulted from them should be excluded, including statements made by Perkins and his relatives.