Defense attorney claims evidence seized illegally in 2009 gambling case
BY JESSICA PRIEST - JPRIEST@VICAD.COM
Sept. 16, 2012 at 4:16 a.m.
Updated Sept. 17, 2012 at 4:17 a.m.
The next motions hearing is set for 9 a.m. Sept. 24 before Judge Robert C. Cheshire.
A 50-year-old Ohio woman the Attorney General's Office charges ran a gambling establishment in a Victoria business in 2009 with at least four others received immunity to testify Thursday.
Jane Lewis, is expected to testify sometime this fall against her former business partners, Christopher Shawn Fellows, William Sue and Paul Carter, as well as her former attorney Frank Henderson. They are all charged with engaging in organized criminal activity, or running a "gambling promotion, keeping a gambling place, possession of a gambling device and possession of gambling paraphernalia" and laundering more than $200,000 from the now shuttered Internet Cafe from April 28, 2008 to Feb. 19, 2009, according to the indictment.
Assistant Attorney General Harry E. White also requested during the hearing that the defendants' attorney, Stephen A. Cihal, be disqualified. He maintained Cihal has a conflict of interest now that Lewis has testimonial immunity.
"I don't believe he can effectively cross examine Mrs. Lewis without calling into question how he knew that information (or what to ask)," White said.
Cihal, who declined to comment about the details of the case, said he would consult with his clients about whether he should step down.
In August, he filed motions to dismiss and suppress evidence, claiming the defendants' couldn't get a fair trial because the indictment was not specific enough and the evidence obtained by police was illegally seized.
"The defendant is unable to present in his defense the activities that occurred at the Internet Cafe because, after the seizure of items from the Internet Cafe by the state, the ability to operate the seized computers and/or terminals as operated at the Internet Cafe no longer exists," Cihal wrote in one motion.
White argued that he didn't have to lay out his case before the trial actually started.
"The evaluation of the legal sufficiency of an indictment cannot turn on evidence of individual elements of the crime," he wrote. "The state will be required to prove the case on the merits at trial. If at trial there is insufficient evidence to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt then the defendant will be found not guilty."