Martin hearing to focus on hard drives

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By Jonna Spelbring Priester

A suppression hearing in the case of a Turners Station man charged with rape will include testimony about evidence found on computer hard drives.

In 2011, Joseph Martin, 39, was charged with illegally having sex with a minor over the course of three years.

In February, Commonwealth’s Attorney Courtney Baxter indicated in a Henry Circuit Court hearing that she would bring new charges against Martin based in part on child pornographic images found on computer hard drives.

At the time, Baxter declined to elaborate further, saying only that new charges were under investigation.

Last week, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Berry Baxter told Circuit Court Judge Karen Conrad that a federal law will regulate who possesses the evidence.

“There are a couple of federal statutes in play as it relates to the information that’s on his computer,” he said. “Child pornography is specifically covered by the Adam Walsh law, and there are provisions of 18 United States Code to the prohibition of reproduction of child pornography.”

In short, Berry Baxter said, only the state or the court may possess the evidence, and that a Commonwealth witness would testify at the upcoming hearing about that constraint.

Martin’s attorney, Harley Blankenship, expressed concern that neither he nor his client would be able to review the evidence or a report based on the evidence.

“I don’t get that suggestion,” Conrad responded. “The suggestion is they cannot give it to you… you would have to go to somebody that constitutes the state.”

Kentucky State Police Det. Tim Moore, the lead investigator in the case, was on hand however, and after the hearing, he, Blankenship and Martin utilized a private room to review the report.

Blankenship said he would save his concerns for a hearing on the issue later, but that he was interested in hearing the report and the Commonwealth’s response.

But he wanted more than simply the report.

“I’m entitled to see the evidence… the providence, and that includes the information about when these documents are created, how they are created,” he said. “The evidence they are talking about is evidence they claim to have retracted from a discarded file or a closed file or a deleted file, but I’m entitled to know when that information went onto the computer and when it was deleted.

“It would be Mr. Martin’s position that those times were when he was at work.”

But Blankenship also said that if the Commonwealth wasn’t planning on using the information, that it should be suppressed.

Though he had not yet done so, Blankenship also hinted at a change of venue.

“I would like to suggest a change in venue would be appropriate,” he said, only to be reminded by Conrad that “you need to do what you have to do to get a hearing on change of venue.”

The hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m., Wednesday, April 10.