Today was a much more interesting, but frustrating day in the Frank Carson preliminary hearing. We start out late this morning. All of Sheriff deputies were over at the main courtroom because a verdict was coming in on a very contentious trial. We were finally able to start court today at 10:30 AM.
We start out with discussion about Mr. Abdul Atala, and how he was allegedly given special consideration on his legal problems in exchange for his testimony in a Federal trial. Mr. Atala was the one who wore a body wire in a visit to Frank Carson’s law office. It was brought out by the defense attorneys that Mr. Atala’s brother was the one who actually got special consideration. Frank Carson was representing Mr. Atala at the time, and Prosecuting DA Marlissa Fereirra stated that Frank Carson was using information that was protected under the attorney client privilege statute. The DA Prosecutor in the case was John Goulart, the same DA that tried to convict Carmen Sabatino on 12 felony charges. Defense Attorney Robert Forkner stated that he is going to call Mr. Atala as a witness. Judge Zuniga cautions Percy Martinez that “This can be a slippery slope.” “It can lead to State Bar charges, be aware of it.” Judge Zuniga wants the DA to ask John Goulart if any special benefit was given.
It is now brought out that we are going to start out with Officer Derek Perry on the stand, instead of Detective Jon Evers. Officer Derek Perry takes the stand, and immediately defense attorney Martha Carlton Magana states that she does not have the police report concerning Officer Perry. Marlissa Fereirra looks very somber at this point.
Officer Perry testifies that he presently works for the Tracy Police Department. He states that he previously worked for the Ceres Police Department. He testifies that he worked on the early stages of the Korey Kauffman investigation. He was brought into the investigation by DA Investigator Kirk Bunch because he had arrested someone who had information regarding Praveen Singh. He stated that this happened about 3-4 years ago. He started working on the case shortly after Korey Kauffman’s remains had been discovered in the woods near Mariposa County. He and Kirk Bunch had initially set up two game cams at the site where Korey Kauffman’s body had been found. One of the game cams was on the dirt road leading to the site, and the other was covering the actual site itself.
Perry testified initially that he went up to the game cams around 8 times over a six week period. He testified that he would download the sim card images from the game cams onto a lap top computer. He would then wipe the sim cards clean, and change the batteries in the game cam. He testified that the game cams captured hundreds of pictures, but only about 8 of the pictures were of actual people. The rest were pictures of birds, animals, or nothing at all. He stated that a leaf falling would trigger the game cams to take a picture. All of the images taken were burned to around 8 CD’s from the lap top computer. These CD’s were stored in a binder that was kept in his office at the Ceres Police Department. He testified that these CD’s are now missing from the binder. He testified that he had changed places of employment, and that they had gone missing after he left his job at the Ceres Police Department.
Officer Perry testified that Kirk Bunch viewed the images contained on one of the CD’s, and that he did not recall if Kirk Bunch had taken the disc that he viewed. He testified that nothing is presently contained on the laptop computer that he had originally downloaded the sim cards onto. He did not know why the images were not still contained on the laptop computer. Officer Perry testified that the last time he saw the CD’s was around September of 2014. He stated that the only people that had access to the binder containing the discs were supervisors and detectives who worked in the office. He stated that the binder was kept in a locked room that contained files and recording devices associated with their investigations.
Defense attorney Jesse Garcia gets Officer Perry to state that a running report written on DA letterhead on the 8 visits to the game cams was loaded into an encrypted thumb drive that was in his possession. He stated that he had just moved, and that he has been unable to find the thumb drive. It was brough out that the company that wrote the encryption software is now out of business, and that it has been impossible for the thumb drive to be opened up. He testified that an officer with the last name of Hiveley (sp?) had tried to open up the thumb drive, but was unsuccessful.
The thumb drive also contains report on cell phone records concerning Frank Carson, and collections of digital images that were from the Department of Motor Vehicle concerning people that were suspects early in the investigation of the Korey Kauffman death.
It was brought out that there was also a pole cam that was in place watching the residence of Praveen Singh. Officer Perry testified that the images from this pole cam were put on an external hard drive, and were given to Detective Corey Brown around 2014.
Officer Perry testified that after Detective Hively attempted to open up the thumb drive, he had returned it to Officer Perry. He stated that about 6 weeks ago, he had been asked by DA Investigator Kirk Bunch to provide the thumb drive to the DA’s office. He testified that he looked for it for about 20-30 minutes and was unable to find it. It seems to me that a murder trial should require a much more thorough search than this. Officer Perry testified that there was no chain of custody for the binder that contained the CD’s that was stored in his office at the Ceres Police Department. He testified that he is a personal friend of Kirk Bunch.
Defense attorney Percy Martinez gets Officer Perry to testify that the game cam took hundreds of black and white images. He said that only a few contained pictures of people. He testified that he did not recognize any of the people in these pictures, and that several of the people appeared to be hunters. Officer Perry testified that he has never spoken to Jim Cook.
Defense attorney Timothy Rien gets Officer Brown to testify that none of the images captured on the game cams were transferred to the encrypted thumb drive. Officer Perry testified that he left the Ceres Police Department in February of 2015. He did not know all of the people who had access to the room where the binder containing the CD’s was stored because of changes of personnel after he left the Ceres Police Department. He mentioned the names of Hively, Venn, Vierra, and Robbins as people who had access to the room where the binder was kept.
Defense attorney Hans Hjertensson gets Officer Perry to admit that he and Kirk Bunch had gone to the game at least twice a week at first, and that Bunch went up with him at least a couple of times. Kirk Bunch is pacing the courtroom at this point, and looks very nervous.
It is almost 12:15 PM, and we are allowed to go to lunch. We are told to be back at 1:45 PM. Marty Carlson will be covering the afternoon session. We are splitting up our days in order to get some things done with our personal lives, and to get some rest. This last 9 months have been hard on both of us.
Sincerely; William Thomas Jensen