Thursday, September 26, 2002

Accused killer wants search voided

Robert Cordell charged with 3 Reading slayings

By Marie McCain,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Attorneys for a Reading man accused of a triple homicide want a Hamilton County judge to throw out evidence collected from his home.

        They contend the warrant Reading police used to search Robert Cordell's residence was improperly initiated. Rather than searching the house in the 2100 block of Bolser Drive in the daytime — as indicated on the warrant — police searched it at night.

        Prosecutors say Mr. Cordell, 42, strangled his former sister-in-law, Kathleen Cordell, 40, with whom he lived, and shot to death his neighbors, Frank Carnevale, 72, and Mr. Carnevale's ex-wife, Rita Bushman, 68.

        On April 2, shortly before 6:30 a.m., the bodies of Mr. Carnevale, a former Reading mayor, and Ms. Bushman were found inside the home the couple shared next door to the Cordells. The house had been ransacked and set on fire, prosecutors say.

        According to court documents, police suspected Mr. Cordell after canvassing the neighbors. In an affidavit for the search warrant, Reading Police Lt. Scott Snow said he knocked on Mr. Cordell's door and he answered wearing a boot that appeared to have a “reddish substance on the toe.”

        “Lt. Snow, through his 12 years of law enforcement experience, believes the substance to be blood,” the affidavit stated.

        Police asked for a warrant that would allow a nighttime search of the Cordell home, but in the warrant signed by Hamilton County Municipal Judge Ralph E. “Ted” Winkler, the language authorizes police to do a daytime search.

        The document was signed April 2 at 8:21 p.m. and the search was executed at 8:50 p.m. that same night.

        Among the items inside the house, police found Ms. Cordell's body, two guns — a revolver and a target rifle — and more than 40 bullets.

        Authorities believe the other killings occurred during the commission of a robbery, and that the fire was set to cover up the crime.

        Mr. Cordell, who is charged with aggravated murder, aggravated robbery and aggravated arson, could be sentenced to death if convicted.

        He is scheduled to appear before Common Pleas Judge Steve Martin on Friday.


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