No decision yet on blood draw in OWI homicide case

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Nico Savidge
Wednesday, July 31, 2013

JANESVILLE—A Rock County judge delayed a decision Wednesday on whether to throw out blood evidence obtained without a warrant in a homicide by intoxicated driving case, opting to let attorneys make their arguments in briefs this fall.

Defense attorney Walter Isaacson had filed a motion in Rock County Circuit Court to suppress a blood sample from his client, 33-year-old Sean M. Waterman of Brodhead, because deputies did not first get a search warrant.

Waterman is accused of driving drunk in a Sept. 23, 2012, crash in the town of Spring Valley that killed a passenger in his car, according to a criminal complaint. He faces more than 25 years in prison if convicted.

At Wednesday's hearing, Judge Richard Werner decided to let Isaacson and Assistant District Attorney Scott Dirks file briefs on the motion.

Werner set deadlines in September and October for Dirks and Isaacson, respectively, to file their briefs. He did not schedule a hearing or trial in the case.

As Waterman was being treated at a Rockford hospital in the hours after the fatal crash, a Rock County deputy told a nurse to draw some of his blood, authorities said.

The sample showed Waterman had a blood-alcohol concentration more than three times the legal limit, according to the complaint.

Officers regularly took blood samples from suspected drunken drivers without search warrants until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the practice unconstitutional in April.

Isaacson has argued that authorities had ample time to get a search warrant but did not, meaning the court should suppress the blood evidence it uncovered.

Prosecutors say the deputies were following practices in place before the Supreme Court decision, so the evidence is admissible.

“This isn't a case where I think the facts are in dispute,” Dirks said Wednesday. “I think it's more a question of how the law applies.”

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