Evidence ruling forthcoming in sex-crimes case
GREG JORDAN Bluefield Daily Telegraph
PRINCETON - A Mercer County judge is scheduled to rule Monday on the admissibility of evidence in the case of a local man facing more than 50 charges including sexual assault, sexual abuse, and possessing child pornography.
John Spaulding, 40, of Montcalm was arrested in October 2013 and charged with five counts of sexual assault first degree, one count of attempt to commit a felony, one count of sexual abuse first degree, and 50 counts of possession of material depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. The two victims were ages 3 and 14, Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ash said when the charges were filed.
The alleged offenses occurred on or about Feb. 18, 2012 to July 26, 2012, according to the indictment. In November 2013, defense attorney Harold B. Wolfe III moved that one misdemeanor charge, third-degree sexual abuse, be dismissed. The alleged incident occurred in Wytheville, Va. and was not reported within a year of its occurrence; it has passed the statue of limitations. Circuit Court Judge William Sadler dismissed this single charge.
Spaulding appeared before Judge Sadler on Jan. 7 for a motions hearing regarding a computer that allegedly belonged to him and statements he made to investigators. Wolfe argued that who had used the computer could not be confirmed, and challenged the admissibility of his client's statements. The computer was found by West Virginia State Police investigators when a search warrant was executed at Spaulding's home. Found under a pillow, it allegedly contained sexually explicit photographs of children.
A second person in the case, 38-year-old Kimberly Cox of Nemours, is scheduled to be sentenced Monday before Judge Sadler. Cox has pleaded guilty to first-degree sexual assault and sexual abuse by a parent, guardian or custodian. She faces 15 to 35 years on the sexual assault charge and 10 to 20 years on the sexual abuse charge. If the sentences run consecutively, she could face a minimum of 25 years or a maximum of 55 years in prison.
Cox must register as a sex offender for the rest of her life. As part of the plea agreement, Cox also agreed to testify in the case of John Spaulding.
Spaulding's trial is currently scheduled for Jan. 22, said Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney George Sitler.
"Defense counsel is supposed to have an expert witness examine the hard drive of the co-defendant Kimberly Cox's computer. To my knowledge, that hasn't happened yet," Sitler said.
The case began in the summer of 2012 when a laptop computer sold to a pawnshop revealed explicit images of Cox and a 3- to 4-year-old girl. The pawnshop's employees found the images while preparing the laptop for sale and notified the West Virginia State Police.
During Cox's plea hearing, Sitler said Cox made and sent the images at Spaulding's behest.
At the Jan. 7 motions hearing, Wolfe presented the arguments that it could not be determined whether Spaulding was the person who corresponded with Cox, and that Spaulding's computer had belonged to his brother, the late Jackie Spaulding.
Sitler said after the Jan. 7 hearing that Cox would testify that she had sent the images to John Spaulding and had been corresponding with him.
"She will testify that she and John Spaulding had an ongoing relationship and that she knew the text number to be John Spaulding's, so we will authenticate through Kimberly Cox's testimony who it was she was corresponding with," Sitler said.
Sitler later said that on Jan. 10, he was contacted by Sgt. M.K. Summers of the West Virginia State Police, who told him there was no evidence that the late Jackie Spaulding had ever owned the computer found in John Spaulding's home.
Judge Sadler is also scheduled to rule Monday on statements John Spaulding gave to investigators.
An attorney was not present when Spaulding gave his first statement to investigators and he was not in custody, but he advised of his Miranda Rights, Sitler said. Spaulding was not in custody when he made his second statement, but an attorney was present and he was advised of his rights again.
Spaulding is currently free on bond.