Arguments Made In Secoy Evidence Case

By
Susan Tebben - Athens Messenger staff reporter

Dateline
Updated Wed, Oct 23, 2013 8:32 am

Attorneys argued this week that a former Nelsonville police officer has a “pattern of abuse” in his career as a law enforcement officer and that that information should be allowed in a case in which he is criminally accused of assaulting a juvenile.

Randy Secoy faces charges of assault, abduction and deprivation of civil rights for an incident in which he allegedly pushed a juvenile by the throat after having arresting the teen at a Nelsonville restaurant. While questioning the teen at the police station in March, Secoy allegedly pushed him backwards while he was seated in a chair, “causing physical injuries to the juvenile,” according to previous Messenger reporting.

A motion to suppress documents including written reprimands, disciplinary actions and medical evaluations was argued by the Elizabeth Pepper, assistant county prosecutor, and Dominic Vitantonio, attorney for Secoy, in a court appearance Monday.

Pepper told Judge L. Alan Goldsberry that video of the incident showed Secoy leaving the room after he questioned the teen.

“(The victim) did not do anything while he was being assaulted,” Pepper said.

The prosecution disputed Secoy’s motion to suppress, filed in September, saying the prior offenses show a pattern that is relevant in the case before the court.

“The defendant has shown a behavioral fingerprint,” Pepper said. “What that fingerprint shows is that he does act with intent ... and that he does act with motive.”

In order for it to be admissible, the evidence from previous incidents by Secoy must prove motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity or “absence of mistake or accident,” according to court documents.

Vitantonio argued, in his motion to suppress and in court Monday, that the past incidents are not facts of the current case, and therefore should not be used.

One piece of evidence that was discussed might not be used as a main part of the court proceedings, according to Pepper. A report by a psychiatrist that could be used to argue Secoy’s “fitness for duty” was on the list of documents Secoy wanted removed from court proceedings.

“We believe that is one of the items best reserved for cross-examination,” Pepper said.

The two parties also discussed a motion for a more specific bill of particulars. The motion to compel the state to furnish a bill of particulars was filed last month by Vitantonio.

The defense attorney asked the prosecution to specify exactly which civil right is at issue in regards to the charge of interfering with civil rights.

“When you accuse someone of a crime and their liberty’s at stake, you have to identify (the civil right),” Vitantonio said Monday. “It’s easy enough, if you are claiming some constitutional right, name it so we can defend it.”

The prosecution argued that the bill of particulars’ purpose was to explain the conduct accused of the defendant and “inform an accused of the exact nature of the charges against him so he can prepare his defense ...” according to the prosecution’s response to the motion, filed on Friday.

“I would certainly argue that our two-paragraph bill of particulars does that,” Pepper told the court.

Goldsberry said he would have “as specific a ruling” as he could to the two parties. He did not give a timeline on the ruling.

 

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