Lawyer: findings in Idaho toddler’s investigation not enough


(NewsNation) — Following the excavation of a nearby backyard and determining missing toddler Michael Vaughan had been abducted, died, and that his remains were later moved to a new location, legal experts are still doubting there is enough evidence for charges.

“Based on what I’ve heard so far, I don’t hear enough to charge homicide,” said legal analyst and criminal defense attorney Bernarda Villalona during “NewsNation Live” on Monday.

The search, which happened in early November, took place in the home of Sarah and Stacey Wondra. Sarah was later arrested and charged with failing to report a death, and Stacey Wondra is currently in jail on unrelated weapons charges.

In a further breakdown of the Idaho Police Department’s most recent press release and the newest findings thereof, Villalona maintained that she is still curious about what led them to search Wondra’s yard in the first place.

“We do know that there was at least probable cause for a search warrant to be executed at that home. So I’m curious to read what was the probable cause to execute that search warrant at that home,” Villalona said.

Based on evidence from the Wondra home, police said they believe both Sarah and Stacey were involved in Vaughan’s abduction, but not to what extent.

In addition to confirming the death of Vaughn, police also identified and released pictures of two additional individuals they believe have firsthand knowledge of the crime in Thursday’s press release: Brandon Shurtliff and Adrian Lucienne.

Both of them were either living or had been at the home around the time police believe Michael disappeared, although neither is currently in Idaho. Police urged them to come forward with any information they have, noting the window for cooperation is closing.

While possibly key to the investigation, Villalona believes such a revelation by law officials in a case of this nature is uncommon.

“So it is a little bit out of the ordinary because usually you wouldn’t put out the name and photographs of eyewitnesses or witnesses to the public, because it can cause harm to them,” she said, adding that she guesses the reason is to put pressure on them to come forward. And if they did decide to come forward, Villalona gave this bit of advice:

“I would suggest that they get an attorney to represent them when they go to talk to police because at this point, look, you put my name out there. I don’t know if you’re looking at me as a suspect; you’re not saying you’re looking at me as a suspect; but that could be so I don’t lawyer up.”

Police said the investigation is active and ongoing, and they anticipate they will be searching other locations in hopes of locating Vaughan’s remains.

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