5/06/09 – NWA: Alamo’s attorney seeks delay in abuse hearing

May 6, 2009

Alamo’s attorney seeks delay in abuse hearing

An attorney for evangelist Tony Alamo on Tuesday requested a delay in his client’s trial, saying he needs more time to investigate the credibility of the girls Alamo is accused of sexually abusing and to examine the locations where the abuse is alleged to have occurred.

“Defense counsel needs a minimum of 120 days before the cause can be tried competently,” defense attorney Danny Davis of Beverly Hills, Calif., wrote. Otherwise, he wrote, the trial “would not be a competent confrontation in our adversarial system, but a stumbling, ad hoc discovery proceeding, where defense counsel learns glimpses of the evidence during the prosecution’s case and makes the best record of constitutional defects that it can.”

Prosecutors said they would oppose the request, noting that the trial, now set for May 18, has already been postponed twice.

“We’re just ready to go to trial,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Plumlee said. “We don’t see any reason for delay.”

Alamo, 74, who was arrested in Arizona on Sept. 25, faces charges that he transported five underage girls across state lines for sex between March 1994 and October 2005.

In a filing Monday, prosecutors said they plan to present evidence that Alamo has also had sexual relationships with at least two other underage girls, along with several women. Alamo’s attorneys hadn’t responded to the notice Tuesday, and Davis didn’t return calls Monday and Tuesday seeking comment.

Alamo was initially represented by attorney John Wesley Hall Jr. of Little Rock, but Alamo fired Hall in March and replaced him with Davis, who won fame for his work defending a worker at a preschool in Manhattan Beach, Calif., against sexual abuse allegations in the 1980s.

When he took over the Alamo case on March 20, Davis said in his request for a delay, he discovered that little investigative work had been done.

Hall turned over thousands of pages of documents and photographs, including depositions from civil cases and recordings of telephone calls Alamo made from jail. None of the phone calls had been summarized, however, and there were “no reports or records consistent with an investigation having been undertaken by Hall’s office,” Davis wrote.

Hall responded in a phone interview that he had been talking to members of the ministry “every day at least twice a day between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m.” The ministry members were gathering information, and Hall had set aside the final two months before trial to complete the investigation. He said Alamo did not give him money to hire a private investigator.

Since he took over the case, Davis added that he has been trying to find witnesses in Texas and California but is “encountering difficulties with people not wanting to be identified and/or who have fears that they might be subpoenaed by the government or arrested, and lose care of their children.”

Davis also blamed prosecutors for not turning over a batch of documents until last week, and he added that he injured his knee playing sports in February and needs to have laparoscopic surgery to keep it from getting worse. In the meantime, he is handling a trial in California that is expected to wrap up this week.

“During trial, the knee is now snapping, clicking and grinding, when counsel walks and stands to bear the weight on the joint,” Davis wrote. “The pain has remained constant but has increased, particularly when rising from a chair, walking and using stairs.”

In addition to Davis and Jeff Harrelson of Texarkana, the defense team includes attorney Don Ervin of Houston, who was hired to file a motion asking for Alamo to be released on bond. U.S. District Judge Harry F. Barnes rejected the motion last month.

Plumlee noted that prosecutors had also objected when Barnes granted an earlier request for a delay, postponing the trial from Feb. 2.

In: 2009 - (Trial year)

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