Monday, December 08, 2008

Defendant Wants Recorded Jail Visit Tossed Out

From Centre Daily:

An attorney is asking a judge to keep a jury from hearing the recorded jailhouse visit between a teenage girl and the man she accused of raping and torturing her repeatedly for six years.

Gary Eugene Prisk testified in court Thursday that he had no idea the girl was wired up when she went to visit him in March to try to get him to admit that he violently abused and raped her.

Prisk, 54, faces more than 250 criminal counts relating to assaulting the girl starting when she was 12 and continuing until she was 17.

Police say Prisk forced the girl to drink beer and watch pornography, then reenact with Prisk what was happening on the TV screen.

He also held her head and hands over hot oven burners and burned her stomach with a blow torch, police said.

When she resisted, he threatened to murder her family and “cut up” her grandparents, court documents state.

The basis for this challenge is a Pennsylvania law that forbids police from conducting wiretaps at someone’s residence unless a judge signs a court order. However, the girl wore a wire at the jail's visiting room which the defense attorney is arguing became part of his client's residence since he was a jail inmate at the time of the taped conversation.

The defense attorney, Casey McClain, also tosses in a separate issue related to assumptions of privacy in the jail which undermines the argument that jails are covered by the residence wire tapping law.

The judge won't rule on this request until January. If the judge rules in the defense attorney's favor then Pennsylvania lawmakers need to amend the wiretapping law to explicitly exclude jails and other public facilities where someone can be incarcerated from the list of protected residences.

Because jailhouse informants can be unreliable, having the ability to monitor what is said inside a jail can protect innocent inmates from fellow inmates who fabricate confessions from other inmates in the hopes of leveraging false testimony for an early release or dropped charges.

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