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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A defense attorney asked a judge to dismiss murder charges against one of his clients because Omaha police haven’t filed critical reports related to the case.

Douglas County Public Defender Tom Riley highlighted at a hearing this week dozen of instances in which Omaha Police Department investigators failed to file reports or book evidence in the 2015 deaths of DePrecia Neelon, 23, and Garion Johnson, 19, the Omaha World-Herald reported. Riley represents Marcus Short, 28, who is scheduled to go on trial this month.

“This problem has been going on for a while in the homicide unit,” Riley said.

Riley said such delays can “make it virtually impossible to present a defense.”

“This police department, who brags about having one of the greatest homicide units in the country — I beg to differ.”

Short and Preston Pope, 28, each face two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths.

Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer said that reports in the case took too long to complete, but that personnel adjustments have been made. He also noted that the homicide unit had a 70 percent clearance rate last year, above the national average of 50 percent.

“Mr. Riley is an excellent public defender, but his widespread assertions are out of line. … Professionalism needs to take place at all times,” Schmaderer said.

Prosecutors said they sometimes share defense attorneys’ frustration in getting reports, but that dismissing the case would be extreme. Prosecutor Mike Jensen said case dismissals should be saved for cases of intentional wrongdoing by officers.

“I understand the need to want to send a message. But a dismissal based upon the screw-ups and blunders of a police officer is not in the best interest of society,” Jensen said.


Information from: Omaha World-Herald,