published Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

Multiple lawyers allege prosecutors holding back evidence in FBI task force cases

Multiple defense attorneys have filed motions in Catoosa County Superior Court alleging prosecutors are holding back on information about the Northwest Georgia FBI sex crime task force, and they want details about a civilian’s involvement in their clients’ arrests.

After a police officer was fired two weeks ago, an investigation revealed Angela Russell was working on the Northwest Georgia Crimes Against Children task force with FBI Special Agent Ken Hillman, and that she may have been allowed to slap the handcuffs on suspects.

Now five area defense attorneys, who represent several defendants arrested by the task force, are alleging the information about the investigation that were given involving members of the task force and those they arrested is “false and incomplete.”

Currently, there are 17 attempted child molestation cases on the trial docket that could be affected.

The attorneys, including David Dunn, McCracken Poston and Shawn Bible, now want the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s office to hand over the computers the FBI task force used and also give out the personnel files of all the agents and officers on the task force.

They also have requested the district attorney’s office recuse itself from hearing the upcoming criminal cases. One reason for that is because one of the assistant district attorneys, Beth Evans, is married to a former member of the task force, recently fired Ringgold Police Department Sgt. Tom Evans.

District Attorney Herbert “Buzz” Franklin was in court this morning and unavailable for comment.

In a previous interview, he said the FBI investigation into Hillman was personal and he didn’t believe the criminal case would be jeopardized.

For complete details, see tomorrow’s Chattanooga Times Free Press.

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...

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