Suspect McGraw moves to suppress cell phone records in wife’s murder case

Published 6:23 pm Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Suspect claims rights violated
Murder suspect Travis McGraw has filed a motion to suppress evidence in the case against him regarding the murder of his wife, Vanessa Mintz.
The motion asks the court to suppress cell phone records obtained by the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) following Mintz’ murder at the Saluda Mountain Lodge on Feb. 19, 2011.

Travis McGraw

The motion claims that the SBI obtained cell phone records without a search warrant, which is in violation of McGraw’s right not to incriminate himself.
On Feb. 22, 2011, SBI Special Agent R.V. Williams executed an “emergency information request” to Cellco Partnership, doing business as Verizon Wireless, regarding McGraw’s phone, the motion said. The request sought information on incoming calls, text message activity and text message content, according to the motion.
The motion said “That Special Agent Williams ‘certified’ in all of the ‘Emergency Information Requests’ that ‘there is an immediate danger of death or serious physical injury to a person requiring that the information below be provided without waiting for a court order.’” The motion continues, “That the certification of the Special Agent Williams was an apparent misstatement of the facts, no apparent risk of immediate death or serious physical injury existed. This was a transparent attempt by the SBI to avoid attempting to lawfully procure the requested items by search warrant. That the state failed to produce any inventory of information received pursuant to these ‘emergency information requests.’”
McGraw also filed an affidavit stating that he was the contract owner of two cell phone numbers and “I had a reasonable expectation of privacy in my subscriber information, cell site location, incoming and outgoing phone calls, text message activity and text message content. I never gave my permission to procure my aforedescribed cell phone records….”
The cell phone records the defense is asking to be excluded from evidence include those between McCraw and Mary Beth Fisher.
In affidavits submitted by the state in the case, text messages on Feb. 17 between McGraw and Fisher indicated a relationship between McGraw and Fisher.
“While I may not deserve you too. Will you really be there on Sunday for me to call?” McGraw said in a message. Another message from McGraw to Fisher read, “I know you love me and I love you! While we share that, your friends exboyfriends all say kick me to the curb!”
Other messages from McGraw said, “Your word is enough for me! Thank you!” and “Good night darling!”
Some of Fisher’s text messages included, “You understand what Sunday phone call means…right?”
McGraw’s response said, “Yes. Ma’am!!”
“That means I could call Vanessa and she would confirm you are NOT together? Because eventually, I will call,” responded Fisher.
Fisher told investigators she met McGraw in December 2010 and did not know McGraw and Mintz were married. Fisher also told investigators she and McGraw’s relationship was not sexual but they talked and texted on a regular basis, according to court records.
Mintz, 53, was killed between the evening of Feb. 18 and the early morning of Feb. 19 at the lodge in the employees’ quarters, according to court records. Mintz family owned the Saluda Mountain Lodge at the time. Mintz died of a shotgun wound to the face, according to her death certificate.
Evidence in the case includes a shotgun shell that investigators said matched a shell found in McGraw’s truck, according search warrant records.
McGraw, 44, of Hendersonville, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder a few days after the murder. He is being held at the N.C. Department of Corrections under no bond.
The motion to suppress evidence was filed in Polk County Superior Court on Sept. 23 by McGraw’s attorney, Tony C. Dalton of Brevard. McGraw requested a public defender for his case in July.
Polk County Superior Court begins on Monday, Oct. 4, but it is unclear whether McGraw’s motion will be heard next week. McGraw is on the session’s docket, but not included on the trial list or the motion or the plea lists.

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