Defense attorney in weapons case assails Metro detective’s credibility

A veteran Las Vegas police detective once charged with beating and robbing a prostitute was grilled on the witness stand Monday in a defense bid to persuade a federal judge to toss out evidence in a weapons case he helped put together.

Defense lawyers in the weapons case questioned Michael Kitchen’s credibility and argued that he put false information in a sworn affidavit to obtain permission to raid the home of Richard Ward in May 2014 during a disturbance in the area.

Ward faces a federal felony charge of possessing an unregistered rifle with a silencer.

At the time of the raid, detectives assigned to a gun crimes task force with federal agents found 78 firearms, including rifles illegally altered by shortening their barrels and adding silencers, a pistol with a silencer and an operation for manufacturing illegal silencers in the garage, according to a criminal complaint.

Kitchen first testified in the case at a suppression hearing on Jan. 22 — just hours before he was arrested by fellow officers and charged with felony robbery, battery and attempted sexual assault in the confrontation with the prostitute.

He later entered what is called an Alford plea in District Court to a gross misdemeanor attempted theft charge and was sentenced last month to three years probation. Under the Alford plea, he did not admit guilt but acknowledged prosecutors had enough evidence to prove his guilt.

Kitchen, now on unpaid administrative leave from the Metropolitan Police Department, has a chance to see the charge reduced to a misdemeanor if he makes it through probation without any violations. No decision about his future with the department has been made public.

Assistant Federal Public Defender William Carrico won permission in the weapons case to recall Kitchen to the witness stand and question him about his criminal charges. After listening to the detective’s testimony Monday, U.S. Magistrate Nancy Koppe said she would issue a written decision on whether to throw out the evidence.

Federal prosecutors argued that Kitchen did not put false information in his search warrant affidavit and that any errors were not intentional and did not rise to a level requiring suppression of the evidence.

Carrico questioned Kitchen about his Jan. 22 encounter with the prostitute, who worked for an escort service. The woman told officers Kitchen became “angry and ultimately violent” when told his initial $100 fee was only for her “time and company,” and sex would cost another $150, according to a police report.

Kitchen was alleged to have punched the prostitute twice in the head and shoved her to the floor, breaking her wrist. He was also accused of yanking $100 bills from her bra before leaving the scene. He was arrested the following day.

But on Monday Kitchen denied harming the woman, and his lawyer, Josh Tomsheck, said afterward it turned out the woman’s wrist was not broken.

Kitchen testified that he had only gone to her apartment for a massage and that the woman voluntarily gave back his $100.

“Did you inflict those injuries upon her?” Carrico asked.

“No, I did not,” Kitchen responded.

He admitted, however, that he changed the license plates on his truck after he left the prostitute’s apartment and deleted text messages from her.

He testified that he deleted the messages because he didn’t think his girlfriend would appreciate him getting a massage from another woman.

Contact reporter Jeff German at jgerman@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-8135. Follow @JGermanRJ on Twitter.

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