Two confidential informants helped detectives crack the triple murder case that shocked the Arkadelphia community in the weeks before Christmas of 2012.
Two confidential informants helped detectives crack the triple murder case that shocked the Arkadelphia community in the weeks before Christmas of 2012, when Anna Galbraith arrived at her South 11th Street home to find her two daughters — Adiele, 6, and Marley, 4 — and her husband, Bobby Jean “Chino” Galbraith the victims of murder.
The arrest of then-19-year-old Riakos Ausmer Lizana II came two days after the murders. A bloody palm print found on the girls’ bedroom door tying Lizana’s DNA to the crime scene, he was charged later with three counts of capital murder and one count of aggravated residential burglary. Nineteen months later, investigators close to the case have remained tight-lipped on the details surrounding the murder; they have released neither a motive nor have they said what type of weapon was used in the slayings.
Now, his attorneys want the prosecution to surrender the names of two informants who apparently helped police solve the investigation. “The state references at least two confidential informants that provided information during the course of investigating this case,” attorney Jacqueline Wright wrote in a recent filing.
Wright notes that the state is privileged in keeping an informant’s information secret — “unless the failure to disclose would infringe on the defendant’s constitutional rights.” In the motion, she cited Roviaro vs. United States, a 1957 Supreme Court case that balanced the state’s privilege against providing a fair trial, ultimately ruling that such disclosure should be made when “relevant and helpful to the defense of an accused, or is essential to a fair determination of a cause.”
Wright also points out that the Arkansas Supreme Court has sided with prosecutors in past cases when the defendant faces drug charges and when the informant’s involvement acted as a lead for investigators. But Lizana “is not merely charged with possession of a controlled substance,” Wright argues, adding that disclosure would be “necessary to ensure a fair trial.”
“He is facing the ultimate penalty of death,” she wrote, “and the protection of a confidential informant’s identity must give way to the defendant’s right to exhaust all avenues of exculpatory evidence and mitigating sentencing evidence.”
Prosecutor Blake Batson answered the motion on Tuesday, arguing that the 1957 Supreme Court case “does not alter our well established rules precluding non-disclosure of informants.” Batson further contends that disclosure is generally required “only … when an informant is also a witness or a participant to the criminal incident.”
He wrote also that the Supreme Court holds that the defendant must “show the existence of any facts or circumstances which would require the identity of the informant,” something he said the defense has failed to do. “Instead, the defendant has merely cited to the nature of the crime charged and potential penalty in support of this request. There is no authority to support that the nature or penalty available for a particular offense justifies disregard of this rule to protect confidential informants.”
The motion is one of many that have yet to be ruled upon by Clark County Circuit Judge Robert McCallum. An omnibus hearing is slated for Friday.
Lizana, now 21, remains in custody at the Clark County Detention Center. The case has been scheduled for a two-week jury trial in September.