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Judge denies motion to suppress evidence in Rogue River serial murder case

Evidence gathered in a January 2014 search warrant that led to the arrest of alleged serial killer Susan Monica will be admissible at trial, a Jackson County judge ruled Friday.

Judge Timothy Barnack also ruled that Monica's two murder charges will continue to be tried as one case. Monica, 66, is charged in the fatal shootings of handymen Robert Harry Haney, 56, and Stephen Frank Delicino, 59, in what investigators have described as two separate incidents more than a year apart. She also faces two counts of first-degree abuse of a corpse for allegedly dismembering their bodies and a charge of identity theft for allegedly using Haney's Oregon Trail EBT card.

Jackson County sheriff's deputies say they discovered the men's remains after serving a search warrant at her home, based on information uncovered while looking into Haney's disappearance. Monica's lawyers had filed two motions in January seeking to suppress evidence seized during the search and to split the murder charges in separate cases.

At the heart of the motion to suppress was attorneys' contention that investigators failed to act in "good faith" when they applied for the search warrant, arguing that Monica's knowledge of Haney's PIN suggested she was using it with his permission, diminishing investigators' probable cause for the crime of identity theft.

In a response filed March 10, Deputy District Attorney Allen Smith argued that legal standards don't require a search warrant affidavit to establish probable cause that a crime has been committed. The proper question, Smith wrote, is whether the affidavit established probable cause that the items sought would be found at the place and time the warrant was served. In this case, Smith wrote, sheriff's Detective Eric Henderson "did the right thing."

Prosecutors also argued that the two murders deserved to be tried as one case, saying they met the law's requirement of being committed by the same person and being of "same or similar character."

Monica's 14-day trial is set to begin April 14. If convicted of murder, she faces a minimum of 25 years in prison without parole under Measure 11 sentencing guidelines.

Reach reporter Thomas Moriarty at 541-776-4471, or by email at tmoriarty@mailtribune.com. Follow him at @ThomasDMoriarty.