Defense Challenges Use of Video Evidence in Preparation for Murder Trial

A defense attorney challenged a prosecutor’s decision to use certain video evidence in an upcoming murder trial.

Tony McClam is charged with first-degree murder while armed in the shooting of 11-year-old Karon Brown on July 18, 2019, on the 2700 block of Naylor Road, SE.

Defense attorney Jason Tulley argued during the Dec. 1 hearing that videos and images the prosecution planned on using during the trial would sway the jury to find prejudice against 31-year-old McClam.

Tulley showed two videos the prosecutor intended to use. In one of the videos, the police searched a witness’ apartment found a gun allegedly used during the shooting.

The video clip showed the gun was found in a bag next to children sitting on the couch. Tulley said that the jury might associate McClam with letting the gun be in a space where children are present and hold it against him.

The prosecutor argued that the video is relevant because it adds to the timeline of where the gun traveled from the time of the shooting. The witness found the defendant’s gun in her bag and presumably brought it to the residence they were staying in, the prosecutor said, so the gun being retrieved near children does not involve McClam.

The other video from the prosecutor showed Body Worn Camera footage of a police officer who found a bullet on the child of the witness during a search. Tulley said this is not relevant and “advances the case in no way.”

The prosecutor said the evidence of the bullet in his pocket corroborates the story the witness gave about handing the gun to her child to let him unjam it.

“There’s no way to take kids out of the case,” the prosecutor said, “the government has a right to present evidence in the manner it unfolds.” They said they are modernizing the system by showing the video instead of telling the jury what took place.

Judge Neal Kravitz said there is relevance and the prejudicial effect is diminished because the defendant was locked up before the gun was found. Judge Kravitz mentioned the prosecution has the right to show where the gun was found.

The prosecutor was required to blur the image of the child in handcuffs during the video at Judge Kravitz’s orders and Tulley’s request.

Judge Kravitz said there is no evidence McClam asked the witness to put the gun in the residence it was found and he didn’t see the connection of how there was an unfair risk to McClam since the bullet retrieved corroborates the witness’s testimony.

However, Judge Kravitz encouraged the prosecutor to think again about showing the video of the child being searched by police. He denied both motions filed by the defense and allowed the videos to be used as evidence for the prosecution during the trial resuming on Dec. 6. 

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