9/09/09 – ADG: Judge rules against new Alamo trial

Arkansas Democrat Gazette
September 9, 2009
By Linda Satter

Judge rules against new Alamo trial

He denies defense motion to have evangelist’s conviction thrown out

Evangelist Tony Alamo isn’t entitled to a new trial, U.S. District Judge Harry Barnes said in a 12-page order filed Tuesday.

In July, a federal jury in Texarkana convicted Alamo, 74, of 10 counts of transporting girls across state lines to engage in illegal sexual activity with them.

Alamo won’t be sentenced until a presentence investigation is complete.

In a motion seeking to have the convictions thrown out, defense attorneys Jeff Harrelson of Texarkana and Donald Ervin of Houston argued that the evidence presented to a federal jury was insufficient to convict Alamo and that Barnes made several errors.

Barnes, who presided over the trial that lasted from July 13 through July 24, rejected each of the arguments, one by one, in his written order.

The defense attorneys argued that not enough evidence was presented to prove that the dominant purpose of Alamo’s travel across state lines with the girls was to have sex with them. The attorneys also argued that it wasn’t Alamo’s idea to go on the trips and that there was no evidence that he had sex with the girls while on the trips.

Barnes said prosecutors didn’t have to prove that sex with the girls was the primary reason for the trips, or that sexual conduct occurred while on the trip.

“The evidence need only establish that the illegal sexual activity was at least one of [Alamo’s] purposes,” Barnes said. He also said the law requiresonly that “an illicit intent must have been formed before the conclusion of the interstate journey.”

In support of Alamo’s arguments about whose idea it was to take the girls on trips, he cited testimony of two defense witnesses that contradicted testimony of government witnesses. Barnes said it was the jury’s role, not that of the court, to judge the witnesses’ credibility, but that the court finds the evidence would allow “a reasonable-minded jury” to convict Alamo.

Barnes also rejected arguments that challenged various pre-trial rulings, including a denial of defense motions seeking documents that prosecutors said they didn’t have, and his refusal to force prosecutors to identify a confidential informant whose statement served as a basis for a search warrant.

The judge also rejected arguments challenging, among other things, the admission of evidence about Alamo’s previous tax-evasion trial. Barnes noted that the tax trial played a role in some of the trips with the girls and wasn’t used as character evidence.

In: 2009 - (Trial year)

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