Accused killer at center of possible civil rights violation - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Accused killer at center of possible civil rights violation

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PASCO, Wash--  He's accused of killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend and now charges against Kurtis Chapman could be dropped because of an alleged civil rights controversy.

Thursday in court the 22 year old pleaded not guilty to murdering 19 year-old Shenay Greenough and her unborn child.  But Chapman's defense attorney claims a detective eavesdropped on a jailhouse phone call between Chapman and his attorney, and that might be enough to dismiss the case.

"It would be as if they opened up legal mail or eavesdropped at a listening device in the attorney/client meeting room.  That's how bad this is.  I don't care how they try and spin it, it's bad," says Chapman's attorney Matt Rutt.

But prosecutors say they're staying away from the controversy, and isn't aware of what was discussed during the phone call.

"I don't know the facts to even respond to it, I don't want to know the facts.  I want to be in a position to be able to tell the courts I don't know anything about it other than the fact this detective did it.  And everything from that point on is turned over to a separate detective," explains Franklin County Prosecutor Steve Lowe.

Lowe will stay on the homicide case, but the investigation into the phone call is now in the hands of the Benton County prosecutor.