ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – A Taylor County Judge is set to decide if evidence seized in a theft case against the only publicly named suspect in the murder of Abilene realtor Tom Niblo is admissible in court.
Suspect Luke Sweetser attended a Motion to Suppress Hearing Tuesday morning, where his attorney, Lynn Ingalsbe, argued that evidence that led to his client’s arrest for firearm theft was illegally seized.
Sweetser was taken into custody and charged with Theft of a Firearm on December 14, 2016, two days after Niblo, Sweetser’s brother-in-law, was shot-to-death inside his home on the 3700 block of Woodridge Drive.
He was arrested after detectives found stolen firearms belonging to Abilene attorney Randy Wilson inside a safe owned by Sweetser when a search warrant was executed at a Niblo family storage facility on Mesquite Street during the murder investigation.
The “Motion to Suppress”, filed in September, states the evidence seized from Sweetser’s safe, including the stolen firearms, should be thrown out because the search warrant didn’t state probable cause for searching the safe.
In the Motion, Sweetser’s attorney says the items were “illegally seized during an unreasonable illegal search.”
Sweetser’s attorney argues that the search was illegal because the search warrant fails to state who told detectives the safe belonged to Sweetser and it also fails to state any “logical, believable, credible, or trustworthy reason” why detectives believed it had evidence connected to the murder investigation, according to the motion.
A supplemental “Motion to Suppress”, filed in October, also asserts that the search warrant never authorized police to “seize” evidence from the storage unit. The text in the warrant only states that detectives could enter the unit and “search for items”, including but not limited to the stolen firearms.
Multiple court documents reveal Sweetser has no alibi for the night of the murder, and he was also involved in an ongoing dispute with Niblo regarding Niblo’s late father’s estate.
Niblo and his mother had been made executors of the estate, but Niblo’s sister – Sweetser’s wife, Ellouise Niblo Sweetser – was not named an executor, according to the documents.
Several properties owned by the Niblo and Sweetser families have been searched during the ongoing murder investigation.
Multiple search warrants were also filed so detectives could gain access to both Sweetsers’ electronic data and communications before, during, and after the murder.
A recap of the most recent information released during the investigation can be found here.