Warrick County Prosecutor JoAnne Krantz has come under fire from the defense community in Booneville, IN. for repeatedly withholding exculpatory evidence in criminal cases. In February, the Tri-State Times wrote a piece titled, “Attorneys Speak Out About Warrick County Prosecutor” in which defense attorney Rick Martin said Krantz’s office has failed to turn over evidence in a number of cases, causing dismissals in some. This was followed by a run of articles about specific cases in late February and March where other attorneys argued that Krantz wasn’t providing basic – in some instances, court ordered – information to the defense.
In the initial article Martin, who is also the 8th District Republican Head, cites a specific case related to child pornography that was dismissed after Krantz failed to disclose exculpatory evidence. He used the case to illuminate some of the broader problems in Krantz’s office:
During a number of cases over the last few years, Martin says, the Warrick County Prosecutor’s office has failed to provide evidence to the defense even after being specifically asked by the court to do so. “A person who is charged with a crime, has the right to see the evidence that is going to be used against them,” says Martin.
He says some cases are handled by other deputies, but it’s ultimately County Prosecutor, Joanne Krantz’s responsibility. “No convictions, no jail time, no probation, no punishment.” That’s the result when crucial evidence is never provided. “When it’s dismissed its gone. Its gone without giving the state the chance to prove whether the person did it or not.”
Martin is one of two attorneys representing defendants in a recent murder case who received zero evidence beyond an affidavit for probable cause, even though media seemed to have more information. The other attorney on the cases, Mark Phillips, told the Courier Press that “facts and other information regarding the case had been reported in local media that were not contained in a two-page probable cause affidavit provided to him.”
The disparity in information stems from the formal charges filed by the Warrick County Prosecutor’s Office Wednesday, which notes that McCallister asked Nelson for his personal identification number to his bank card before Nelson was shot.
“The government has the obligation to disclose everything,” said Phillips, who added he’s had issues with obtaining evidence from the prosecutor’s office in the past. At the time of the hearing, Phillips said he had only been provided a probable cause affidavit.
At a March hearing, Phillips subpoenaed a number of investigators, including the lead detective in the case, because he wasn’t getting the information, documents and records he believed he was entitled to. 14 News reports:
Phillips was joined by Jade Stigall’s attorney Anthony Long. Phillips called lead investigator Bryan Flowers to the stand to testify about his communication with fifth suspect, Kelli Wyrick.
Lieutenant Flowers testified that he did purchase a cell phone for Wyrick so he could communicate with her and about 175 text messages have been sent back and forth.
Phillips presented screens shots of text messages between Wyrick and Flowers. In one message, Flowers tells Wyrick the probable cause affidavit for her fiance, Mat McCallister was released publicly, but he tells her they did not include important information in the affidavit.
“There was an admission that there were things that were not included, important information as part of the probable cause affidavit and we still don’t have police report one. We don’t know what that could be,” Phillips says.
… [N]ow there’s concern over an interview with a confidential informant. The defense wants a copy and the state doesn’t want to give it up.
Chief Deputy Prosecutor Dan Miller says they have been forthcoming with providing evidence. Some of the evidence including police reports simply are complete yet. Miller says the only thing they’re withholding is that single interview with the informant.
Phillips argued that he and his client are entitled to know if there’s an informant and if they were interviewed pertaining to the case, they have a right to that information.
“I am concerned that the C.I. may be one of the defendants in this case. If they’ve got a C.I. In a drug case that had a hand in the killing, that would probably be pretty embarrassing to law enforcement. I’m not suggesting that’s the case, but I can’t understand why,” Long says.
Krantz filed motions seeking the setting of trial dates on April 3.
In an unrelated case, Long recently sought a dismissal after Krantz failed to respond to court-ordered discovery in a timely manner. He alleged in a 10-page motion for sanctions against Krantz that Krantz didn’t produce evidence until well after the December deadline imposed by the judge in the case of Andrew Emmons, who faces 26 counts of child exploitation and voyuerism. The same judge had to delay Emmons’ trial after opening statements when Long objected to the introduction of evidence by the State that he had never seen before. The judge denied Long’s motion for sanctions and reset the trial date for early this month.
Krantz told the Tri-State Times that she disputes Long’s claims “but wouldn’t speculate as to the reason why he made them. Krantz said she stands by her track record as the county prosecutor and her career that spans three decades.”