Judge will decide whether to toss evidence in Riverdale day care abuse case

Thursday , September 14, 2017 - 5:15 AM

MARK SHENEFELT, Standard-Examiner Staff

RIVERDALE — Attorneys for a day care worker charged with choking a 5-year-old boy want a judge to throw out several items of evidence gathered by police, including surveillance video and an apology note.

Justice Court Judge Reuben Renstrom is weighing several motions by Kristopher Greenwood and Lauren Forsyth, Ogden attorneys who represent Alexander Brent Jones, 21. Riverdale City prosecutors have filed documents challenging the motions.

Jones, of Layton, was indicted in Riverdale Justice Court in January on a class B misdemeanor count of child abuse consisting of injury and recklessness for an incident Nov. 3, 2016, at Bravo Arts Academy, 5165 S. 1500 West in Riverdale.

Trial is scheduled for Oct. 13.

RELATED: Northern Utah day care violations include 6 child walkaways, state data shows

RELATED: Mothers of kids who attended Bravo day care voice complaints over alleged abuse

The defense attorneys contend the Riverdale Police Department’s search warrant that was used to acquire Bravo’s surveillance video of the alleged assault and seize Jones’s personnel file was flawed and served improperly. 

They argue an apology note given to the boy’s mother by Jones was not an admission of guilt, just an expression of remorse; and they say the police interview of Jones at the Riverdale police station was conducted improperly and in violation of the defendant’s civil rights.

Finally, they seek to suppress an interview with the boy at the Children’s Justice Center, arguing prosecutors failed to turn over the evidence to the defense in a timely manner.

Police reports detailed surveillance footage of the incident in which Jones allegedly slammed the boy on the ground and grabbed his throat. The boy was not seriously injured, but his mother said he needed counseling afterward.

“Presenting this evidence (surveillance video) to a jury when it is choppy, has poor quality and is inconsistent can unduly prejudice” the case against Jones, his attorneys said in a court document. “And not one of the viewers will be able to determine what is happening.”

Prosecutors urged Renstrom not to suppress the video, 

“The video is not inflammatory, gruesome, or misleading. Rather, it captures the event as closely as possible and allows the jury to personally view the events upon which they are asked to decide the ultimate issue,” said a prosecution document filed Monday.

The video quality has been improved, they said, “its current state (offering) sound and clarity that will allow the jury to hear and see what is happening, the reactions of the child, as well as the statements of the defendant during the assault.”

The video and the apology note are corroboration of the boy’s statements that Jones hurt him, prosecutors argued.

The boy’s mother, Lindsay, said Wednesday she was not surprised the defense was trying to get the video ruled inadmissible.

“That’s the smoking gun,” she said. “The video shows it all. When I saw it, it was choppy, but I could see, and my husband could see ... that what was happening was clearly not right.”

The Standard-Examiner normally does not identify child victims of crime, so his mother’s last name is not included in this story.

Greenwood and Forsyth have declined to be interviewed about the case. Angy Ford, Bravo’s owner, did not immediately return a phone call Wednesday.

Ford has denounced the police investigation and news coverage of the case. She said Jones would be exonerated. Bravo has not been charged in the incident. 

You can reach reporter Mark Shenefelt at mshenefelt@standard.net or 801 625-4224. Follow him on Twitter at @mshenefelt and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SEmarkshenefelt.

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