Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

August 7, 2012

Attorney wants child porn case dropped

TAHLEQUAH — The attorney for a local man accused of possessing thousands of photographs that depicted child pornography is asking the courts to quash information and dismiss the case.

James Allen Rice, 44, of Tahlequah, was charged in April with a felony count of possession of child pornography. Detectives claim Rice has from 5,000 to 10,000 child pornography photos in his possession.

In late July, Rice’s attorney, Crystal Jackson, filed a motion to quash the court information, citing insufficient evidence and reasonable doubt as to whether Rice committed the crime.

Jackson argues that during a preliminary hearing, prosecutors introduced only two photographs of the alleged child pornography. Jackson claims 100 or more photos are required for a person to be charged with aggravated possession of child pornography.

But in their response to Jackson’s request, prosecutors insisted the state didn’t have to admit 100 or more separate images at the preliminary hearing to establish probable cause that Rice had the photographs.

Jackson is also asking the court to suppress the contents of Rice’s interview with Tahlequah Detective Thomas Donnell. She claims Rice’s statements were involuntary because the detective used “coercive tactics and implied promises and leniency to induce statements.”

Jackson maintains Rice indicated he did not want to give up his rights while talking with Donnell. Jackson said Donnell then told Rice he’d signed in the wrong place, and had him sign on a waiver line.

“It is clear that Mr. Rice did not know what he was doing and was just signing the form wherever [Donnell] told him to sign,” Jackson’s filing states.

Jackson claims that without access to Rice’s statements, the state has no evidence against Rice, and the charges must be dismissed.

Prosecutors argue Rice volunteered to speak with Donnell, and drove himself to Donnell’s office for the interview, then made his statements of his own free will when he was not in custody. He agreed to sign away his rights, but signed in the wrong place on the document, prosecutors say. He later signed his name in the proper place.

They also argue Donnell said he wanted to get Rice help, and didn’t specify the type of help he wanted to get for Rice, nor did he imply the help would replace some harsher punishment.

In the recent filings, Jackson indicates Rice has been diagnosed with depression and schizophrenia, but that Donnell didn’t attempt to determine whether Rice had any mental illnesses that would affect his ability to understand his rights.

During a preliminary hearing, Donnell contended he isn’t a medical professional, but said Rice seemed to have no problems speaking during the interview with the detective, and told Donnell he understood the questions. The state argues Rice has provided no documentation of any mental illnesses.

Rice is next set to appear in court for a criminal disposition docket on Aug. 16.

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